Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Defeated by the Blackfoot

It's been some time since my last post, I have been busy fishing on numerous occasions since my last post, although the fishing has been tough, I finally was able to catch my first fish on my new fly rod! The moment came on a sunny after noon in April while fishing on the Sun River about 30 miles northwest of Great Falls. Though the rainbow was small, 14 inches or so, it was a proud moment. Soon after I had on a small brown, 8-10 inches, which made my day just that much better. I had a few other flash at my olive wooley bugger as I was able to see clearly 3 feet or so through the green tinted water. Another broke off my olive sculpin as it was swing through a deep eddy past an exposed boulder toward the end of a run. She hit hard and must have been a good size, two head shakes and the sculpin pattern was lost, along with what could've been the biggest fish caught to date on my new fly rod.

As the new weekend neared, my buddy Nate and
I pondered upon taking a camping trip up to the river made famous by Norman Maclean's novella "A River Runs Through It", the Blackfoot. As I read through the fishing reports online, I read that the river was still clear and had 1.5 to 2 feet of visibility and was still holding it's natural green hue. I figured why not, the spring run off isn't in full force yet, and I have never been to the beautiful river in all the years I have lived in Montana. So we packed up Nate's car with all the necessities you might find a fisherman to need for a night of camping and a day on the river. Fishing and camping gear, brats and dogs for the campfire, and a cooler full of cold ones. All the ingredients to a relaxing and enjoyable outing. As we pulled into the campground off highway 200, we spotted the perfect camping spot less than 50 yards from Monture Creek. We unpacked the car, set up the tent, gathered wood for the fire we would start upon returning from a night out on the creek. Monture Creek is beautiful and it just so happened we made it just on time for opening day to fish it.

As we made our way onto the stream, I couldn't help but notice the large numbers of insects flying about. I waded my out to the stream a bit and grasped into the air to see what I was to discover. Caddis, Caddis and more Caddis! I was extremely excited. The first major hatch I have seen all year and I was smack dab in the middle of it. It was a glorious sight. Before I decided to tie on an elk hair caddis dry fly, I took a look around for risers, expecting to see sippers across the banks, and foam lines. 5 minutes passed... nothing. I decided to tie on a caddis pupa emerger while waiting for the risers. Ten minutes later... still nothing. "What the heck?" I thought, hundreds and hundreds of caddis and no fish breaking the surface feeding on these sweet morsels of food after a long winter. I thought maybe I was in a bad location on the creek so I decided to move down stream. I scanned the banks, undercuts everywhere. Classic fly-fishing conditions exist everywhere on this creek. Short deep runs followed by shallow riffles, undercut banks along most of streches and outside bends. I threw my flyline up and across the stream to the undercuts with precision, dead-drifting the emerger, now with a prince nymph dropper deep in the side pockets. No hits. Still no risers. I came upon a large deep pool on that ran off the outside seam of an inside bend across to the other side of the bank and into an outside bend that fed into a foamed back eddy. No room to chuck a large streamer with a steep embankment at my back, I decide to tie on a red san juan with a beaded hare's ear dropper. I swung it out, let it get deep about 6-7 casts. Nothing. It was about this time, Nate who had been upstream from me on the other bank was walking back, yelling across that he had caught one. He said it was small, but still, he had caught one. Though he is a spinner and bait fisherman, I get a little jealous when he hooks em and I don't. Feeling defeated, we decide to call it a night and head back to camp as we see the sun making its way behind the mountain. Beers, brats and a nice campfire will lick the salt from the wounds for tonight.

After a freezing cold night, literally as the frost was seen on the windshield of the car in early morning, we had a quick breakfast and decided to go even further downstream on Monture Creek to see if the fishing condition bettered itself.

We figured an hour or two would suffice before we made our way down the highway to get on to the Blackfoot. It was a beautiful morning, birds being twitterpated with spring in the air, the Caddis were again everywhere along with midges popping off, seemed like hathes were occurring around the clock, still no risers. This has lead me to believe that no fish reside in this creek. How can there be some many insects across the top of the water and no fish to gorge on them. Pretty much boggles my mind yet. After making our way downstream, reaching unfished territory from the prior evening, we hit a few runs and deep holes we hit hard for another hour, until coming up empty-handed.

I had probably by this point flailed 400-500 casts, only to have lost a copper bob in the trees and no fish to show for it, not even a bite. Unnerved as I was, we decided to press on and face the beast of the Blackfoot in hopes our adventure was to change pace, as I so desparately yearned. One fish has the power to make all feelings of despair and defeat turn into joy and triumph. This was the fix I needed, like the fix a heroin addict needs to function, only my drug is attained by the cunning actions of my wrist and the natural presentation of my fly.

After making our way a few miles down the hightway down to Scotty Brown's Bridge access on the Blackfoot, we got out took a quick stretch, watched as a bald eagle made a few circles high above, I realized eagle and I both had the same thing on our minds. "This must be a sign!" I thought. If a bald eagle is fishing here, we must be in the right place. The river from the bridge looked green yet a tinge of brown had mixed in and realized the spring run off had definitely brought in some new sediment. As we looked upstream we could see the tail end of Monture Creek dumping clear fresh water into the already milky Blackfoot. It was all so discouraging as we only spent under an hour here, and another hour or so down the road in the Mineral Hill area.

Visibility was at about 1-2 feet. I know the fish must eat so I mostly threw olive and black woolys in hopes one would happen to cross paths with my fly. Once again, no luck. With a heavy heart, we decided to pack up, head over to the Missouri, in hopes to make a day out of it. With a few casts left in us, we tryed our hardest to bring in at least one. Another hour went by, no action, we were spent. Another day of defeat. UGGHH! I have faith it will pick up and the day will come where I own the river, not the day where the river owns me!