Well I haven't posted in a while so I thought I would make up for it in one big post. If you have time to waste go ahead and read it, if not just check out the fish porn and let me know what you think. I actually wrote this with a pen and paper (the old fashion way) on the trip home. I can't help but continually relive this trip. Enjoy!
Check out the bug on top of the trout's head, didn't notice that until I got home.
I'm sitting in the airport in Milwaukee watching the hustle and bustle of all the people. I can't help but to bring myself back to Eight Mile Creek in Montana, the site of my first trout. Not just any trout but a beautiful rainbow taken on a dry fly. Before I get too much into the fishing I've experienced, I need to take you back to how I got here.
What started as a simple trip to Denver for the Fly Tackle Retailers show has turned into a life changing experience. A half a year ago or so my good friend Rob McAbee, you know the Bug Slinger guy, and I planned a trip to Denver via Montana. Sounds great a two week RV trip across the country in pursuit of new experiences and trout. What I didn't plan is that a couple months before the trip my life would be turned upside down, my marriage ended. No details are needed, unfortunately in this time and day divorce is all too common. I couldn't figure out wether this trip was coming at a good time or bad? I even considered, although for only a moment, not going. I am glad I went because this trip was very therapeutic! Here is my story of a long drive with many short casts.
Hangin with Rob at his house in Grayslake, IL the night before the trip
I must admit I was just as excited about the trip across the country in an RV as I was the adventures waiting for me on the other end. That feeling quickly dissolved about 3 hours into the trip when I had seen enough corn for 10 lifetimes. You see I flew into Milwaukee to meet up with Rob and his RV, aka the Bug Slinger mothership, from there it was across Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and finally into Montana. 22 hours of nothing, except a few roadside oddities, like wind farms, the world's largest bull's head, a 10 ton log, and a skeleton walking a T-rex, (don't ask just drive I-90 and you'll see it, or just check out the pictures). I must admit this was all pretty cool for a Florida Boy. After 2 days on the highway we found our way through 20 minutes of dirt roads and straight to Eightmile Ranch. Eightmile Ranch is owned by a very good client of mine and is truly a flyfisherman's utopia. Eightmile creek runs through the 8000 acre ranch and is dotted with 4 ponds that are all attached to the creek. Both the ponds and creek are littered with rainbows, brook, and cutthroat trout. Not the toughest fishery but perfect for a trout virgin like me. After a quick tour by the ranch manager we headed to the Bunkhouse, our cabin on the ranch, loaded up the Land Cruiser, which we were given to use, (I told you it was a good client) and headed to the creek were we saw a rainbow eating naturals during our tour. I didn't want my first trout to be taken while stripn' a wooley bugger, so Rob gave me the first shot with the dry. I think Rob called it a PMD? Whatever the hell that is? I don't care it was some cool shit. I moved into position and made a perfect roll cast, okay perfect for a guy that has never even had to roll cast before. The trout came up slowly and sipped my fly, I followed that with a huge hook set stealing the fly right out from the rainbows mouth. This happened 4 times before I got it through my thick head not to set it so hard. I told you these fish weren't too tough on the 5 attempt I set the hook with a gentle raise of the rod and I was on. Rob, said he thought he saw a tear in my eye, I was sooooo happy!
World's largest Bull's head, or so they say.
Skeleton walking a T-Rex, told you so...
The sun setting over the Black Hills in South Dakota
I think it was my second trout? lost count.
So now that I have dried my eyes and I got that first trout out of the way all bets were off and Rob started showing me how to fish such tight waters. I am used to 80 foot casts with tight loops not bow and arrow casts? Needless to say Rob smoked me but I held my own and after three days on the ranch we had both caught our share of rainbows, brookies, and cutthroats.
Big brookie that I had the pleasure of catching and photographing.
So after 3 days of just slaying fish on the ranch we decided to go to Yellowstone and put me to the real test, the Soda Butte creek. Rob warned me that the fish will not be as big as on the ranch and that they would mostly be cutthroats. He was right they were all cutthroats and mostly small, although I did manage a real nice one to end the afternoon. Once again Rob smoked me. Yellowstone blew me away, we hardly have what someone would call a hill in Florida? I saw Buffalo or Bison, no one can seem to tell me the difference, also elk, coyotes, (at least that is what everyone on the side of the street told that dot on the side of the mountain was), and pronghorn. Oh yes, let me not forget the deer, they are like the armadillos in Florida, roadkill every few miles. I'm not much of a hunter other then some wing shooting but, those deer are not too smart. I have no idea why you guys have to put deer urine on yourself to shot them? Just stand on the side of any road in Montana and have a field day. Yellowstone rocked!
At this point I did not think the fishing could get any better and dude was I wrong! After our day in Yellowstone we hooked up with one of Rob's friends that is a guide, rep, and character to say the least, he goes by Modobi. His real name is John Dobson. John is a classic guy that really doesn't give a shit about what anyone else thinks of him, he just knows how he is going to be and lives life to the fullest. A sticker on John's truck says it all "Cause walkin just sucks!" you see John is a drift boat guide and after fishing with him a couple days, I'm a drift boat guy! I love this guy and can't wait until the next time I can fish with him. We meet John in Livingston and followed him 3 hours to the Big Horn, I thought it was a bit odd that we were going to start fishing at 1:00 in the afternoon? Hell in Florida the boat is clean and a cold beer is in hand by noon? Anyway, John explained that all the boats would be well ahead of us and that we should not see another boat, that was what I wanted. The fishing was spectacular I threw hoppers the whole time and lost count of how many rainbows and browns I caught. I even had one eat at the ramp while John was putting the boat in. To top off our trip on the Big Horn we camped along the river and drifted it again the next day, with the same results. Here are some side notes from the Big Horn, the second day we headed into the huge town of Fort Smith, home of 3 fly shops and a trailer park. I felt right at home with the trailer park but in Florida we only have fly shops every 30 miles or more. I also learned that the beer of choice by drift boat guides out west is Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR), and is now a favorite of mine, along with Fat Tire and Two Hearted. Another favorite saying of Modobi's is "Dry feet and dry flies" I told you he is a drift boat guide. I can't forget this one, (I'm going to steal this one for my charters) I missed a fish and tried to go back to it and John just said "Brother, he's not going to eat again! He just had the "steel meal".
Here is a shot of Rob rowing the drift boat, I even rowed and guided those guys to a double rainbows!
Dobson, aka Modobi, with a huge bumper trout, only found on the Drive in.
Had to have Dobson snap a shot of me and Rob at the Drive in.
Although, the one that caught the most fish for me was called the "Brazilian", I let you figure out what that means.
Even though at this point the fishing was done, the fun had just begun. After fishing the Big Horn for two days it was on to Denver for the Fly Tackle retailers show. We meet up with my good friend and Oakley rep, Paul Heatherington, and found a killer campsite in Golden, CO. I will spare you all the boring BS about the show, shake hands and talk fishing with everyone you meet. Although I did make one observation, most people I met out there when they heard I was a guide in Florida, they responded, " Oh, where in the Keys do you guide?" My thought was, "Oh, if you knew what your missing!" I did however meet some incredible people out there and I would not be doing this post any justice if I did not give them a shout out. First, I meet Brian O'Keefe, and Todd Moen, they are the guys behind Catch Magazine, an internet porn site for flyfishing and photography junkies, hmm... do I know someone like that? Hopefully you will see some of my shots there soon, I can wish right? Next shout out is to the guys of World Angling, some of the best film makers in the industry, Dave Teper, Will Benson, and Jeff Lugutki. I have fished with Dave before but this was the first I met the other guys and now I have some new buds. I also had a chance to hook up with some old friends like, Pat Ford, Carter Andrews and his wife Heidi, and of course Nick Pujic. Nick is one of the main reasons I went out to the show this year. Nick and his wife Nicole, run Fly Max Films and Canadian Flyfisher magazine. They are ones that I shot with back in June. "Fly Nation, Stuart, FL" was shot in just 5 days in Stuart, FL with yours truly and out of 40 submissions to the Drake Fly Fishing Film Awards our was selected as one of 10 shown. This was the highlight of my whole trip, seeing that film on the big screen sent chills up my back, we did not win any of the awards but, being selected was reward enough. Thank you Nick for all your hard work! Our next goal is to make it onto next years Film Tour, which I will again be hosting in Stuart, FL 2010. That brings me into the end of this post, you see Nick has a crew of people that work for him and with him on these projects and I consider myself lucky to be part of this group. I now have friends for life like, Nicole Parks, Rebekka Redden, April Volkey, Nancy Cairns, (Nick obviously loves surrounding himself with women, and beautiful ones) and Franckie Blanchet, spey casting extraordinar. All from Canada and all exceptional people. I can't end this without giving the biggest shout out of all and that is to my very good friend Rob, 2 weeks in an RV together and we didn't even kill each other, your like a brother now. This trip could not have come at a better time for me, it just sling shotted me down a new road, so watch out life!
If you took the time to read this, thank you, and if you just looked at the pictures then you suck because it took me like 3 hours to write this and another 3 to post it.