Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fly Fishing Western Montana: With Video

          Hello all and thanks for checking in at The O’Grady Fly Fishing Adventures. As some of you know, Cat and I spent last week on vacation in Southwest Montana; it was the first trip to the area for both of us. During the fifteen hour drive home, I reminisced about the trip and then tried to plan how I would write this blog. We had mixed feelings about the trip and I think I have come up with the perfect analogy to describe it. Last year Cat and I were talking to an acquaintance whom had lost her husband to cancer a few years earlier. Later, when we were alone, Cat mentioned how much she liked this friend and out of nowhere she said that if she were to ever die, I had permission to remarry this old friend. I sat there for a second, and even though I didn’t need any brownie points, I told her that I could never marry again because it would be “unfair” to anyone not Cat. You see when it comes right down to it, anything other than Cat would always fall short of my “now” expectations. Fly fishing in Colorado has done the same to me. Any comparison is just unfair.
          I’m not sure how this ever could have happened for me, but living in P-town might be like being married to Cat. I live ten minutes from hungry and ferocious 10 to 25 inch fish. I am three hours or less away from the Dream, Spinney, 11 Mile, and the Taylor for hogs, and less than an hour away from rivers and lakes that can produce 100 fish days. So as I write a little about our time in Montana, keep in mind that my bias for P-town might show through just a touch.
          Montana proved to be a mixed bag of fly fishing adventures. On our way through Montana it occurred to us that we would be going through the fly fishing Mecca of Bozeman and decided to stop at the Simms headquarters. The Simms people were fantastic and we got the quick “touron tour” and snapped a pic or two. Just being at Simms, made the next two hours invigorating. We met up with the Clark Fork just after Butte and when our lips could take no more moisture from the salivating, we stopped and wet a line. Cat started hot and landed several fish quickly and my success came late with a monstrous 10 inch cutty. After getting settled in Missoula, Cat and I went to some friend’s house for dinner. It was great catching up with Tim and Trac’ee. Thursday morning we headed up to my brothers property for some private access cutty fishing and that was when things got a little sad. The creek which normally flows at 10 to 15 cfs was nothing more than a trickle, so the rest of the day was spent in the Bitterroot valley looking for a place to fish. Fishing was good on the Bitterroot and we caught fish at every stop. Friday we took a guide trip with one of the most knowledgeable guides I have ever met. Fishing at times was good but fishing “big” water was a whole new world. Saturday was the toughest day; we headed up the West Fork of the Bitterroot and found an incredibly beautiful area but very difficult fishing. Sunday we made our way up to Rock Creek and had our best day on the water. The fish were hungry and the river was on fire, every run produced lots of fish. Monday on the way out of the Missoula area we stopped and fished the Big Hole River and we felt this river most resembled what we have here in Colorado…. so it instantly it became one of our favorites.
          One of the highlights we experienced on the river happened at Rock Creek. Cat and I were fishing on opposite sides of the river with Cat about eight feet below the road behind her. I happened to look up river and I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me because I could see something trotting down the road. I warned Cat that something was heading her way and that it was big. When it came out from behind a row of trees, I could see it was a Bull Moose. Fear raced through both our veins as the Bull trotted within feet of my tiny wife. He turned and looked at her, but kept going and went down about another fifty yards or so before coming down to cross the river. It’s hard to really grasp their enormity until they trot within a few feet of you. Now to make sure I never let a great experience die easily, I think I spent most of the weekend talking in my Marty the Moose(from Vacation) voice. The highlights of the fish came from the new species of fish we caught. I caught my first and second Grayling, I caught my first and second Squawfish, and even though they got really boring really fast, we caught our first hundred or so Whitefish.
Now when Cat and I were newly married I used to warn her about the Anna Kournikova exception (If I ever met Anna, Cat would understand), but I think in the end, if anything ever did happen to Cat, even Anna would fall short and on the same note, Montana is great, but it’s no Colorado.

To sum up the trip, it was great and I learned a ton. I would encourage everyone to make the trip if they have a chance. We made pretty good connections to a really great fly shop and guide there and also have an understanding of what it takes to be successful on Southwestern Montana waters. We would love to share this knowledge and help you out if you’re heading that way. And with that being said, I sure am glad to be home and I’m ready to head to the Ark. As always, Connell, Cat, Winston, Marty the Moose, and The Drift Fly Shop want to thank you for reading…..

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Home Court....

                Hello all and thanks for checking in at The O’Grady Flyfishing Adventures. Now if you were on the tailwater today and you noticed the increase in flows, I can assure you that it was not from my tears after watching the Husker game yesterday. As a matter of fact, to prove that I am so over it, this week’s blog will actually talk about basketball. One of the more freeing things about growing up in Nebraska was that we were never connected to any local pro teams so we were always able to choose our loyalties to really good teams. I was a huge Reds fan, a Dolphin fan, and in basketball, it was all Larry Bird and the Celtics. I remember after one of the Celtic championships I was given a Larry Birds autobiography. I was fascinated by the amount of work he put in to get as great as he was. When asked why he was such a great free throw shooter, he said that growing up, every day after practice; he would shoot like a thousand free throws. So it sounds like practice does make perfect. One of the more interesting things he talked about in the book was his home court advantage. He said that he spent so much time practicing on the old parquet floor that he began to notice that there were some soft spots that would deaden the bounce. He knew the floor so well that when opponents dribbled in certain spots he would go in for the steal because he knew the micro second difference was all he needed. For Larry, he certainly had the home court advantage.             
                So Friday evening I headed out to spend a little time on the river. The flows were just less than 400cfs and I so badly wanted to get out and see how our river has changed over the summer. Since 2004 and the original beginning of the Legacy project on our river, the river has really for the most part has not changed. Yep just like the Gardens old parquet floor, the subtle nuances, the feeding lanes and even the dead spots (snags) I knew inside and out. Over the last few weeks out, with the flows and clarity yo-yoing up and down I feel a little like I’m fishing on the road. The first hour was quite frustrating with not even a bump; I was beginning to feel a little lost and then as the evening air cooled a little the fish came alive. I only got one all the way into the net but did hook several fish.
                This morning I had the opportunity to take Jay out for his first trip to our little slice of heaven. With the flows bouncing so much, I took him to one of the runs that hadn’t changed much from the runoff. The early morning was a little slow but the fish came alive around 8:30. We were messing with the flies for a little while and then the fish began to chomp on the J-bomb. Jay got several fish to the net and left one set of flies in a fish and as the heat began to build, the fish just disappeared. I’m not sure I would put it in a classic Ark-ish day but Jay certainly got to feel a little about the strength of our fish.

                With Cat and my trip to Montana nearing, I am really hoping that our fly fishing success isn’t predicated on home court. I would like to think that the amount of time we have spent practicing free throws will pay off. As always Connell, Cat, Winston Larry Bird and The Drift Fly Shop want to thank you for reading…..

My fish from Friday....

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Ark 9/13

                Hello all and thanks for checking in at The O’Grady Flyfishing Adventures. I wish I had an interesting and clever story to start with but I guess this blog will be as boring as the first half of the Bronco game. As most of our readers know, most of my fishing this time of year is late in the afternoon. This morning I got up super early and got to the water at around 9:30. It felt like old times to start the day, fish were eating and aggressive. I think I hooked a dozen or so in the first hour and then they just seemed to go into hiding. Not sure if it was the heat or the rafters but they just stopped eating. Anyway the first hour was totally worth it. I fished the new MOD today and more than anything I just wanted to know if it was powerful enough for a few of our piggies. I think the pictures answer that. I can’t wait to see what the fall has in store for us here in P-town, fish are solid. As always Connell, Cat, Winston, The Green Lantern, and The Drift Fly shop want to thank you for reading….

Thursday, September 10, 2015

FlyFishing 1 - Huskers 0.....

   Hello all and thanks for checking in at the O’Grady Flyfishing Adventures. I wanted to write today a little about why I absolutely love flyfishing and how it may allow me to live a long and healthy life. Cat and I got to spend last weekend in Omaha celebrating my father’s 80th birthday. As most of our readers know, I grew up in Nebraska and that in itself severely limits the options one has for pastime enjoyment. As the Broncos are the focus year around here in Colorado, the Huskers are twice the obsession for most Nebraska-ites. Not many fans can boast about five championships in their lifetime, but as a Husker, I can. Now unfortunately, it’s been 15 years since the Huskers were even relevant and even longer since they were dominant. But even with that being said, every new year starts with the hope that this year is the return to Husker glory.
            This year was especially exciting with a new coach and a new philosophy. On Saturday, part of my dad’s 80th b-day party, 35 crazed Husker fans poured into my dad’s house to watch the Riley era begin. The Huskers started fast and the cheers were loud and excited. Memorial stadium, and the basement were rocking, even Li’l Red was bobbing up and down the sidelines. The cougars bounced back and seemed to be having their way and then in the third quarter, the Huskers got energized. The 10 point deficit quickly turned into a lead and the Husker faithful were ecstatic once again. But every time it seemed like the Huskers were going to run away with it, they shot themselves in the foot again and again. The cougars got the ball back with less than a minute to go and made a few quick plays to make their way up the field. I don’t know if the blood was rushing into or out of me head, but I could feel my blood pressure approaching the seriously dangerous area. The clock was down to one second when the Cougars took the last snap, the QB rolled out and threw the ball as far as he could. An eternity passed and the ball dropped into the waiting hands of a cougar and he fell into the endzone. Memorial stadium, Li’l Red, my dad’s basement and the entire Husker nation went silent. It was as if Tom Brady himself had reached up from the depths of hell and let the air out of the Husker Nation. (yep Steve, I went there) At some time the silence was broken by an “un-freek’n believable” and followed by a “wow”. Everyone then got up in silence, helped clean up and went someplace lone to lick their wounds.
            Sleep was not good this week, but a trip to the river has brought my blood pressure back to a safe place. Winston and I headed out to the river yesterday afternoon and had an absolute blast. The first thing I noticed was how much the water has cleared since the last time out. In a few different spots while wading ball deep, I could see structure on the bottom of the river. We got to the river around 4:30 and the first half hour or so was really slow, not even a bump. You would think that that would bother me but not even a little. I got into one run that can be quite productive but very difficult to land and I landed my first fish of the day. He was only about 12 inches but he was points on the board. A few casts later I hooked another fish and he didn’t feel very big. I fought him in a very nonchalant way and when he finally made his way to the top I had to do a quick double take. He looked to be a good 19 or 20 incher with a ton of color but by the time I realized how nice he was, it was too late. I got schooled. It hurt a little but nothing like watching the refs arms go up. I headed down river and the fishing actually got pretty good, I hooked quite few more but was only able to land the smaller fish. Cody and Travis showed up and I could hear Cody making the “ah” screeches several times and then he landed his fish of the night, a beautiful 17 incher. The evening was coming to an end and I had to make my way back to my car, I had to stop at the TA slip run for a few last casts and that was when things really got fun. My first several drifts came up empty and then five drifts in a row I landed these absolutely gorgeous 12 and 13 inch bows. And then in my best Bubba voice “it just stopped”. It was getting very dark and after several empty drifts I decided on one more cast. My fish of the day landed, about a fifteen inch Brownie, and as I was releasing him, I was at complete peace and it hit me. I love flyfishing!!!!!
            I saw tons of bug activity from about five o’clock on. Lots of small caddis, PMD’s galore and the prize bug of the night looked to be about a size 10 sulphur hovering over the water. I’m not sure why but all but one fish was landed on a fly that Travis and Cody came up with a few years ago called the Blue Man Group. The Winston caddis took the other fish. If you want to know about that fly, Travis will be in the shop all day today. As always, Connell, Cat, Winston, Li’l Red, and the Drift Fly shop want to thank you for reading….