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Fishing in Montana

by Pat Steele

August 2-7 – Montana – Pat and John Steele
Fishing in Montana, after over a year and a half’s absence from any fly fishing, was restorative.  We came home exhausted, yet refreshed.
We began our five day trip in Bozeman, and fished the Yellowstone River, which, because of summertime low water and high water temperatures, was observing so-called “Hoot Owl” hours, restricting fishing to between 6 AM and 2 PM, in order to not over-stress the fish.  We enjoyed catching many healthy, robust rainbows and browns, taking care to snap photos quickly and return the fish to the water as fast as possible.
The second day we were in Bozeman, the guide took us to the Madison River.  We were a bit reluctant to fish there, as it has been historically very crowded with other boats, and the water at this time of year is pretty darn skimpy.  We were pleasantly surprised to find it not too terribly crowded, and the water higher than we expected.  The fishing was likewise much better than it has been in the past few years we’ve been there.
The third day we picked up a car and drove to Helena, and fished the following two days on the Missouri River.  The first day there, we fished in a drift boat.  We passed by the railroad tracks where the thieving eagle had stolen John’s hooked fish two years ago.  I guess he/she wasn’t on duty this time.  The population of nice, robust rainbows seems to be as good if not better than it has been in the past years.
The last day was the cherry on the sundae, as we fished from a power boat on the “Land of the Giants” part of the river, right above Holter Dam.  The fish here are phenomenal, you have to resist the temptation to clamp down on your reel, or tighten your drag, you must be patient and let them take out line, jump, try to get tangled on the boat, and be strategic about how you go about landing them.  They don’t get big by being stupid or meek.
The terminal tackle used in both places was sub-surface stuff, crawdad/shrimp imitations, with a dropper called a “Friskett”.  In deeper water, a split shot was added to get the flies down.  Chucking this rig isn’t very visual and doesn’t require a whole lot of finesse, but it does get results.
Kudos go to our outfitter, Ed Lawrence, who has done several presentations to our club, and his able guides, Tim Schwartze and Captain John Hall.  We also need to cite several handy apps for land transportation, Uber and Turo.  Turo is a peer-to-peer car rental app, and we were very happy with it, the pick up place was within walking distance of the hotel, the car was immaculately clean, and the cost was a third of what a commercial rental car place would have been.
This having been our first fishing foray since the pandemic shutdown in March of 2020, we weren’t sure about how it would go, but we were reassured that there still is a world out there, and the fish still like us.  Go forth and fish, stay safe, stay well!
Pat and John Steele
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O’Neill ForeBay FishOut 2020

by Stosh

image:  Cecelia Stipes with 25″ Striper

It was a record according to our senior members attending, 21 of us during the four day event. I want to thank those attending, we all thought it was highly successful although the fishing was not great in our side of the lake, those who found the bait, found the fish.

Scheduling the yearly event I have moved it to mid or late October and try to coincide with the new moon phase and to find cooler water and a change in the weather for good fall time fishing.  This was not the case this time. Ninety plus degree days and little wind or clouds knocked us off the lake when the fishing shut down after 9 AM. Those who fished till the mid afternoon did a lot of kicking the tube around in the hot sun. We only had one person, former fish master Jim Hall and his little aluminum car top boat found the fish and had the highest fish count which he whispered “got 15 this afternoon bite”. He rarely brags how well he does.

Everyone attending was happy to escape their homes and get together with friends and fish and the most important part was to all join the evening campfire to tell stories and laugh out loud a lot. Every day was a little different, as some fishers came for the day and did not sleep over or stayed at the nearby Motel 6.  We had no more than seven of us sleeping on any night. Special thanks to those who were there all four days. Kevin and Terry Murdock, Elaine and John Cook, Kathy Powers, Scott Kitayama and yours truly.

Sunrise at Medeiros Campground.

For me personally, the heat was oppressive, and fishing sucked, averaging one fish a day and almost zero bumps which is so rare this time of year. I did play fish-master casting instructor with a new member who won a fly rod at the last meeting, Carly and Sean got an hour and a half casting her new rod from a rock below our camp. They were not ready for float tubing yet and just starting out fishing.  It is always great to see the younger generation pick up where the older folk are leaving off.

Super special thanks to ‘Kevin and Terry’s Bar and Grill’ for bringing everything under the hot sun to eat and drink and to Steven and Milana Rawson who make pizza dough from scratch and a pizza via Dutch oven before our eyes right in the camp. I am always blown away by the variety of skills our membership have. The best way to get to know a person is to go camping together. I’m a lucky person indeed.  Stosh 10/2020

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Fishing the Williamson

by David South

By the time all the smoke cleared from the Klamath, OR region, it was the first week in October…..very low water levels and 90 plus degrees…made for very poor fishing at Rocky Point Campground  (a month before friends were catching 20 -30 trout/day).   I gave up and went out on the Williamson with guide Craig Schuhmann, and caught this bad boy on a #10 maroon and black leech, using intermediate sink line. He estimated at 26-27″ and 6-7 lbs.

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Aug. In Oregon

by Elaine and John Cook

This was our second fishing trip to Oregon during covid. Once again, took all our food and water for the whole month. Used stream water for bath and laundry. Made Nat. Forest Campground reservations ahead of time,  so no contact with camp hosts and gaurenteed spot. Lots of mask wearing and alcohol disinfectant. All in all, very covid safe. We had the pleasure of having Rich Hughett and Bobby join us for a few days. Not a great fishing trip again. If we had trout fished, that may have been different, but our focus was on large mouth bass. There was day of bass fishing with poppers that was truly outstanding. Dozens of fish exploded on our flies. Many in the 20 inch range. We meet a local fisherman fishing subsurface. Gave him one of my poppers. All he had was success with it over the next couple weeks. He sent me a picture of it after catching around 100 bass. It was trashed! Now the down side of fishing that lake. In order to launch our tubes, we had to slug through knee deep mud for about 20 feet. Crawling helped some. Then for 200 or more yards,too shallow the paddle, so pushed with our heels. Did the adventure one more time, the fishing was good not outstanding. Geer has been in lakes and washed in a stream, but some mud still remains. It’s like clay. We will go back again , eairler in the year when the lake has more water. We left before their horrible fires began and the Santa Cruz fires were greatly improved.

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Camping and Fishing during covid-19 in Oregon

by Elaine and John Cook

Desperate to go on a summer trip, which we have done for decades , we decided we could possibly make it happen safely. Our plan included stocking our camper van with enough food, water, clothing, supplies and fishing gear for both trout and bass fishing to sustain us for 14 days. We would only go to forest service campgrounds that widely space campsites, where outhouses are only one use at a time, enter no buildings, no gas station bath rooms, no grocery stores, no fly shops, all to keep us in the out of doors. We packed a pot-a-pottie (never needed to use), had a pee jar, stayed in one private campground where you had to be self contained, which meant people didn’t use the bathroom, went to gas stations that had outside ice available and paid the person pumping our gas for the ice and had them place it by the car. Note: Oregon always pumps your gas. We open the window 2 inches to pay them. Also there is no potable water available in Oregon campgrounds this year. We packed lots of alcohol disinfectant in a pump jar which we used liberally. And of course lots of masks. Reservations were made ahead of time so no contact with camp hosts and the one private RV place tapes paper work to their door if you arrive after 5pm. All in all, things worked well. As it turns out, we had enough for 3 weeks. The fishing was not great but we learned a lot about the area. Davis Lake and Hosmer Lake have BIG fish and we challenged ourselves by only using dry flies to catch them. It was a great deal of fun and John is really getting into this float tube thing. A storm came in and dropped the high daily temp 30 degrees. See photo. The wind howled and affected the fishing for about 3 days.  If you are interested in more information, don’t hesitate to call us.

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Lake Almanor report 6/21-26 ‘Be the Bug’ tour

by 'Conservation Slim'

The annual visit to Lake Almanor is always memorable when you are finally out on the water after a long hot day waiting for the sun to set and believing the fish is there and you are fully ready to rock and roll when you get that Grab.

Grab’s were few and far in between hours of nothing or that stray Bump or tail slap of the line or the nymph. I noticed not only fewer trout but fewer bass and other species like brown bullhead and pike minnow.  I saw fish landed at Geritol cove and at least 20 tubes were vying for the hot spot back in the inside pocket of the cove. Other guides were bringing clients out deep in 50′ of water looking for the trophy size brown.

I got my only trout within the first half hour on my first evening and the largest one I ever landed there (no camera) at Almanor it filled up my stripping basket around 23″, when released flipped enough water in my face and down my wader to get me well splashed. (German Brown colors).  I remember the lost fish and the last night a super fish bent open the hook on a rush towards the tube and diving under me, tight line was too tight and may have started the bend earlier on a hook up with a log I recalled later. Sometimes we get lazy or forget to check the hook, esp for sharpness on the fingernail test.

I was fortunate to find the last space in the only campground on the lake at North Shore Camping where we got rash and bug bites from the brackish water and goose bacteria. We did not wear our waders one hot day and got bit up pretty good.  The camping was decent but the lake was too shallow to wade or fish and they pack the campers in tightly there.  Others from the club either stayed at Quail Lodge near the dam or camped off a back road somewhere. We did a little trip to the fly shop in Hamilton Branch where we met the young worm mongers counting night crawlers and putting them into individual tubs to sell. Brought me back to my youth of catching them at night with a flashlight and a big coffee can to fill.

The days got hotter, 92 at Chester is hot and the fishing was ice cold, I had fun in the shallows looking for smallmouth bass and landed a good one but the monster got away again.  Camping with Don and Dan this time was our first one together and we did okay, it was my turn to buy a bear claw ice cream and I forgot..sorry boys, next trip.  I hope Rocky Point campground is open next year and the world comes to its senses by then.  Peace.

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O’Neill Forebay

by Elaine Cook

Early June: the Forbay is open for day use and two trips to the Madeiros entrance and under the power lines afforded us fishermen some great fishing. For some, too many fish to count. And it’s noteworthy, John Cook caught his first fish ever striping and on top of it, a Stripper! Will there be 2 moons in the sky. To finish one of the days, John and I finished with a couple nice large mouths by the tules using poppers.