Hoot owls have begun nesting.
Seriously, though. Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks instituted a Hoot Owl Closure for several rivers in the Bozeman area this last week. This means that you cannot fish the following stretches of river from 2 p.m. to midnight:
Gallatin River - Four Corners downstream to Headwaters
Lower Madison River (i.e. Madison dowstream of Ennis Dam to Headwaters) - entire river
Jefferson River - entire river
Ruby River - Duncan District Road to confluence with Beaverhead
Beaverhead River - entire river
Big Hole River - assorted stretches*
Why is there a closure in the first place?
Due to a low-snow year this last winter, water levels have dropped early in the season. As levels drop, water temps warm and dissolved oxygen levels in the water become dangerously low for trout. After fighting a fish, it will be stressed and may not be able to get enough oxygen to recover and survive.
How long will the closure last?
The closure will be lifted when water temperatures drop back into safe levels for trout. It will likely be in place for the entire summer, but could be lifted in the case of a wet, rainy couple of weeks in the Bozeman area.
Why is it called the Hoot Owl Closure?
Owls rest during the day, and are active at night and into the early morning. During the closure, anglers are required to give the rivers a rest during the day and night, but can fish in the early mornings.
*For more details on closures, visit the Montana FWP: Fishing & Waterbody Restrictions page
Steelhead Trip Olympic Peninsula
We had a last minute cancellation on Rod's hosted steelhead trip to the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state so there are now two spots available. This trip is usually booked up a year in advance so having a spot open up is pretty uncommon because the area is so pristine with incredible fishing. The OP is one of the last great Wild Steelhead runs on the West coast and pair that with the rainforest habitat that the rivers flow through and it's a spectacular combination.
The Importance of a New Fly Line
“I would rather cast a cheap fly rod with the best quality line rather than a high end rod with old crappy line.” --some fly shop dude
There is a lot of truth to this quote. Often times people mistake casting flaws for issues with the rod, when in reality a new line would solve a lot of problems. New quality line such as those from Rio and Scientific Anglers will have a smooth slick finish, with a supple core. These are qualities that will deteriorate over the life of the line depending on how it is abused and cared for. New line will shoot through the guides without much friction, creating a smooth effortless casting stroke. Old line with coils, cracks and a tacky texture will cause a caster to use more force to get the line to shoot through the guides.
Fishing This Week
It looks like we will get a couple days above freezing this week. Fishing can get pretty good during these mini thaw periods we tend to get every now and again in winter. Here are just a few things to keep in mind while fishing during the winter cold months:
Fly Fishing Film Tour!!
The Fly Fishing Film Tour is coming to Bozeman January 26th (Saturday). Based on the trailers it looks to be a good show! I think we are all hoping for plenty of slow motion topwater fish takes from explosive exotic species. Its always a good excuse to get out of the house, ward of cabin fever and get some new inspiration for the 2016 season. As always, the show will be at the Emerson, there will be beer. Get your tickets for a few bucks cheaper here at the shop! Check out the trailers for yourself at THEF3T.COM!!! SEE YOU THERE!
Tricks to keep warm while fishing in winter
For those of us who stay on the water year round, fighting the cold is a never ending battle. Just the thought of standing in 33 degree water in the middle of February is enough to make most normal people shiver. Here is a short and sweet list of the top five things I do to keep the cold at bay for as long as possible.
Update on the Gallatin
The Gallatin has been fishing very well from 4-corners through Big Sky. The trout are starting to stack thick in the deeper slower runs. Concentrate on this type of water. Fish your nymphs heavy and slow. You really need to get the flies close to the fish this time of year. Unlike the warmer months, trout will not move very far for food in the winter due to the cold water and slow metabolism. A rubberlegs with a zebra midge trailer is hard to beat this time of year. Focus less on the specific choice of fly and more on making sure your flies are deep
Echo Rod/Reel Outfit… A Great Gift!!
ECHO is a small rod company located out in Vancouver, Washington. Their quality of product and customer service has proven to be top notch ever since we started dealing with them about a year ago. ECHO offers rods ranging from $90 to $350 and offers a great warranty plan. I think the biggest thing that has sold me on the ECHO company is that they are able to supply a large number and type of rods while still maintaining the small business feel. When you call ECHO, you are greeted with a real person in a friendly manner, and your issue is dealt with right away; something that is rare with other fly fishing companies out there.
ECHO offers a great entry-level rod kit. It includes the rod, reel, line and even a leader. Everything but a fishing license and a few flies that someone would need to start fishing immediately. It comes bundled up in a nice hard case, along with ECHO’s superior lifetime warranty.
Thankful for Fly fishing
Fly fishing has been the most constant and prevailing aspect of my entire life. For that, I am thankful for.
No matter how erratic my course may seem between changing jobs, moving, and being in and out of school, I can say without question that standing in the river waving a stick has always grounded me in some steady fashion. The ironic part is that much of the change in all other aspects of life has been caused by my constant pursuit of chasing fish with feathers.
Weekend Fishing Recap
I was on the fence about fishing Saturday. With a high temperature forecast to be right around freezing and bright sunny skies, it did not exactly stand out as a “must fish” type of day. I really didn’t have any other plans, so when the phone rang 8 a.m. Saturday morning, Patrick and I decided to brave the temps and head out.
We ended up driving to a tailwater system not too far away (by Montana standards) in hopes of dodging the slush that had formed on the rivers overnight. The drive was beautiful, and the traffic was light. Finally reaching our end destination we were greeted with warmer than expected air and zero wind.
Glass ain't dead
There is a small resurgence of interest in fiberglass rods on the water in the last few years and it may have more practical applications than you may think.
Just like how in modern day fly fishing rod materials are pretty much dominated by graphite materials there was a time when fiberglass controlled the world. My dad tells me a story about once a year when he was fly fishing in the 70's with my uncle and looked downstream at his brother and admiring his smooth loops laying out 40' or so of line effortlessly. At the end of the day he remarked at how good of a caster my uncle had become. My uncle responded that he had not been practicing his cast at all it was just his new rod made of space aged fiberglass! In those days the jump from bamboo rods to fiberglass was quite the game changer.