- By: Brad Bohen
- Photography by: Tosh Brown
I used to be a blissfully happy trout angler living a normal life in southwest Montana, catching dozens of fish a day on tiny dries or great big streamers. I had a job, a life, a routine. Now I’m a bachelor living in the Wisconsin northwoods, packing a fly box the size of a briefcase, and I’m happy when I boat a single fish in a long day on the water. My only routine is treating chronically slashed-up hands and healing my pride after it is trounced by what has become the focus of my life—the muskellunge.
So why did I give up trout and take on this highly predatory and confounding fish? The answer is this: The pull of my home state was too strong to ignore, and I wanted to rediscover myself, find my soul, on the water, while mastering what many considered an impossible task—regularly taking muskie with flies.
- By: Robert S Tomes
- Photography by: Tosh Brown
Whether you realize it or not, modern fly-fishing is guided by an age-old code of conduct with specific rules that help you catch more fish and, in some cases, keep the peace. Among those rules: don’t spook the fish; don’t drag your fly; keep your tip up; let the fish run; and never, ever give away a friend’s secret spot.
That’s all true in the world of trout, but in the Midwest and its emerging world of muskie fly-fishing, anglers are smashing those rules by blending elements of conventional and saltwater techniques, including big flies and figure-eight retrieves, to take muskie, with regularity, on flies.
The South Fork Snake is one of Idaho’s best trout fisheries—some would argue that is the gem state’s best fishery—and it hosts some solid rainbow, brown and cutthroat trout.
It gets a lot of pressure from locals and the outfitting crowd from Jackson, Wyoming. Bu the river keeps banging them out each year and it should continue to do so in 2012 because research conducted last fall found more than 5, 177 fish per mile in the river, the second highest tally since the mid-1980s.
What does that mean? It means that you should hit the river this spring before runoff and then continue to do so after runoff, which should occur sometime in July this year. Also this: if you’re looking for a really big brown trout, meaning a fish that stretches past 24 inches and might weigh six, seven, eight, even 10 pounds, the South Fork is a good place to toil—it holds some hogs.
It was too nice not to get out of the house this weekend and throw a line on Montana’s Bitterroot River. My decision was made a little easier when I talked to John and Jed Fitzpatrick and was told that they’d take care of the boat and shuttle—all I had to do was show up and fish. That I can do boys, even after staying out way, way too late on Saturday night.
- By: Skip Morris
- , Greg Thomas
- , Tom Keer
- , Matt Supinski
- and John Holt
- Photography by: Louis Cahill
I enjoy watching friends fish, but this debacle was too much and I was on the verge of losing it. My pal Dan Summerfield had just missed, like, 15 eats in a row.
“WTF,” I shouted from my perch above Idaho’s North Fork Clearwater River, mocking our dreadful societal sway toward slaphappy acronyms, as if I were texting instead of sharing an afternoon on the water with a friend. He answered, “This size 20 Baetis is so small I just can’t get a good set.”