Fall: Too Many Options

Every dedicated outdoorsman knows that fall is too short. There are too many good options at this time of year and not enough time to do them all. Fishing for cutthroats. Fishing for steelhead. Hunting birds. Hunting big game. All are appealing options and all are viable with relatively short drives from my house in Montana. So each day I wake up and deliberate: work or the outdoors?

I’ve never demonstrated much will power so I hit the highway on Sunday and then worked through a labyrinth of dirt roads to access some remote cutthroat waters. I knew the October caddis would be active at this time of the year, and that activity should continue late into the month. I also knew I’d see some grouse along the way and Continue reading

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Look Who’s Been “Hanging” Out

It’s been an interesting summer and fall at the Thomas household. Recently, we’ve had a few unique visits, several from a big, brown-colored black bear, plus a raccoon and numerous whitetail deer. Just this morning I saw this Continue reading

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Skeena Steelhead Returns Dip

If you’re a steelheader you dream about British Columbia’s Skeena River system and all the great opportunities that exist there. Unfortunately, fewer steelhead have returned to the system this year, but that doesn’t mean you should cancel plans to visit. Even with lower numbers than usual the Skeena remains the top bet in the world for steelhead, a network of famous rivers Continue reading

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Echo Glass 7129 —The most forgiving Spey rod you’ll ever throw

Just got my hands on Echo’s new fiberglass Spey rod, the 7129 model to be specific. Actually, I got my hands on this rod in July when Red Kulper, marketing director for Echo, handed one to me and said, “You got to throw this thing.”

I don’t get all caught up in stepping backwards with technology trends, i.e. bamboo and tenkara, so I wasn’t all fired up to throw glass. But I had Red send me a rod and then I promptly sent it off with a friend who was headed to Idaho’s Clearwater. I was off hunting elk, antelope and birds, but I got some texts back from Idaho—one stated, “I like the Echo rod. Super fun to throw.” Continue reading

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MT Rivers on the Drop

You can still find some muddy water in Montana, and maybe we’re still a week out on the Clark Fork, but some of the smaller waters are falling nicely, running mostly clear and if not wadable all the way across, at least manageable from the near bank.

So last night I was wondering if I should hit the town, Missoula, for Five on Black and then a drink or two. But at the last minute I asked, Why? So I loaded up the gear and made a drive to some of my favorite grounds. Found a stream in perfect shape and bugs occasionally popping off. Not enough to say a full-fledge hatch, but enough to gather the trout’s attention and get them looking up. Was nicely surprised to catch three fish right off the bat on an olive Stimi, and when I broke that off I found the fish Continue reading

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SIMMS’ Ode To The New Wade-Fisher

It’s not getting any easier to find “fresh” water these days, but the wading angler might have just as good a chance, or better, as someone in a boat. So don’t let your lack of floatation keep you from adventure. In fact, until someone starts hiring helicopter pilots to air-drop boats or rafts into the mountains, those Continue reading

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Idaho Trout and Char Get Free Ride

Saw this piece in the Missoulian and found it interesting. Figured all of you would, too. Don’t know if this makes more sense than cleaning up the habitat and giving all these fish a real chance, but I’m sure the fish don’t mind.

CABINET, Idaho – Like any immigration story, this one has a border with a big wall and a population that wants desperately to move from one side to the other. Some enjoy privileged passage. Others are viewed with suspicion. Lots of government agencies are involved.

When a bull trout reaches the Idaho-Montana border Continue reading

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Brown Trout Spank-Down from Montana Wild

Saw this video on Outside.com today and wanted to share what some local Missoula boys are doing. In this vid they travel south, all the way to southern Idaho, to tangle with tailwater browns. I don’t think the river is as secret as they make it sound, but nonetheless there are times when you can have it to yourself. They show a nice array of brown trout, but there are much larger beasts to be had. This should get you fired up for the Memorial Day Weekend. Check this out and visit Montana Wild for more video pleasure.

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Keeping Warm on the Water: Patagonia’s Proven Capilene Layering System

Dave McCoy, all “Capped out” and taking one final measure for warmth, on a cold December float down the Skagit River.

I know it’s mid-May and everyone thinks we’ve turned the corner and that summer and a seemingly endless supply of 80-degree days is just about on us, but the truth is we are going to get some late spring dousings that will chill us to the core, if we’re not prepared.

That happened a couple years ago, in late May, when two of my buds and I rolled to the Big Hole and ended up driving through eight inches of snow on the pass between Anaconda and Wisdom. What do you do? You fish anyway. We did. Launched the boat and threw streamers all day. And one of my buds almost froze to death. He got real quiet because he wasn’t dressed right. We dug through our bags and found stocking hats and, best of all, Continue reading

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Antique Rod Holder

Was digging around in the house yesterday and came across this, an antique rod holder for travel by car. Sure, it’s not as high-tech as what we see today (i.e. Titan Rod Valuts), but this was probably a savior to those in the day. Definitely a Norman McClane vintage piece. Wondering if any of you collect antique tackle or know people who do. Continue reading

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