Monday, May 2, 2011

Gear vs. Flies - I Like Both...

So nearly my entire month of April was spent fighting bronchitis and what was probably pneumonia as well, instead of fish. Which all I'd like to say about that is capital BS... But considering that we've been stuck in winter in Montana since October, I guess I'll console myself with the oft uttered and never believable phrase of "you didn't miss much."

So I got to spend a fair amount of time playing around at the fly tying vise and making an absolute mess of things in the guest bedroom (my man cave). What came out of this was nothing short of magic, I mean I was definitely consulting with Charlie Sheen on some of this stuff, hello winning! Sometimes the lack of fishing in one's life can lead to anticipation and some excellent creative juices. The only thing that kept me from ending it all was a Pike trip to Fort Peck at the end of the month, and believe me, that was all I had going for me in April fishing wise...

We hired a guide for a couple of days to show us around Fort Peck and considering that the reservoir has more shoreline than two times the coastline of California, trying to figure something that vast all out on your own sounded a little daunting for this river fisherman. Unfortunately for us, nobody told us (see the guide) that our guide had never guided fly fishermen on the lake. It seems that someone that has mastered fishing in 10-40ft plus worth of water with crankbaits, doesn't automatically know what you want to do with a fly rod... There is a bit a of a learning curve.

The first day was beautiful, 65 degrees and sunny, warm enough for this kid to take his shirt off (don't worry there are no pictures of this, that would require a special lens to take the glare off the polar bear white sheen off my skin). But as nice as the weather was, trying to find a needle in a haystack or a pike on a fly in a lake where everyone trolls crank baits was difficult to say the least. We chucked big ugly junk for 6 hours to no avail, finally breaking down we decided that maybe in muddy water they might eat some Rapalas a little better. Well, at least we were right about that. Day 1: Flies - 0, Crankbaits - 6... FML

Day two was a little different, we figured if we couldn't stick fish on flies we'd go troll some gear in deeper water for lake trout, this proved even more fruitless, and so when noon time rolled around and the water temps in the bays started to warm a bit I was hard lining for a little fly throwing for those toothy critters. So we headed back into some likely places to find pike - the first swing through one of the bays we ran crankbaits, managed to stick two fish, one got tangled in a swamped tree, the other one sliced through the firewire we had tied onto the Rapala like a hot knife through butter. At this point in the day it was Crankbaits - 0 Flies - Not Even Tied On Yet... So after losing both of those fish, one of which was easily in the 10-15lb range, all I wanted to do was throw some bunny fur around some shallow water in hopes that something might oblige and swallow a perch pattern whole.

After doing enough trolling to last me for the rest of my life I asked our guide to take us to some shallower back bays where we might see some Pike up and spawning - we got one part of that equation satisfied - shallow. Unfortunately there wasn't enough clarity for me to see my fly 6" underneath the surface - this trip was beginning to wreak of failure. All that was going to save it was a little bit of luck, and all I could think was that if we fished something wild enough and put it in the right place that I just might feel a tug on the end of the line... After letting our guide call the shots for the first day and a half I asked him if he would begin cruising us a little closer to shore in some really shallow weeded areas with some small inlets trickling in. Money.

Now we only stuck one 30" Pike on flies, but all I can say is it felt like I won the lottery when our guide told us that during his talks with his other guides that had taken out fly fishermen nobody else had stuck anything on flies... Final Fish Tally: Gear - 8, Flies - 1. But I can tell you this, I'll be back to even the score later.

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