Montana Outdoors

April 17, 2007

Tree fishing

Filed under: Fishin' stories, Fishing, Humor, Montana, Nature, Outdoors — montucky @ 6:41 pm

Most people who aren’t intimately involved with the outdoors have the impression that fishing is done in oceans, lakes, streams, rivers and an occasional pond. Nothing could be further from the truth! As any experienced fly caster can tell you, most fishing is done in trees!

My personal favorite fishing tree here in Montana is the Alder: Thinleaf Alder (Alnus tebuifolia) to be exact. They have been called by other names from time to time, in fact I have observed a large number of very colorful descriptions of them over the years. I guess they’re at the top of my list because I have caught so many of them.

Alnus tebuifolia grows to be around 30 ft high, which is a very convenient height for the fly caster because he frequently uses approximately that length of line for most casts, at least on the smaller streams. There’s usually one stationed near the stream bank adjacent to a good trout hole (I think they have a contract with Mother Nature). When fishing rivers and larger streams, it is considered better form to catch taller trees, such as the pine and fir, but it’s slightly harder to do and they are not nearly as sporting as the Alder.

The exact technique for hooking Alders will vary from angler to angler, depending on their experience and ability. My own style has evolved over many years and is now perfected. I carefully calculate the distance to the exact spot where I have judged a lunker trout to be lurking, unspool the measured amount of line necessary to drop my fly precisely on that spot, go into my back cast and hook the appropriate Alder behind me which is growing at that exact distance, plus or minus a millimeter or two, depending on the wind conditions. This gives me plenty of exercise and gives the lunker an opportunity to escape or sometimes just stay put and laugh. I hate it when they laugh!

On my most recent fishing trip, after several hours on the stream, I met up with my fishing partner:

“Hey, Montucky, how’d you do?”

“Oh, the usual: two small Rainbows, one nice Brown, six Brookies, two pines, one fir and thirty seven Alders. How ‘bout you?”

“About the same. Except the fish. Didn’t get any of those.”

Well, what do you know! He’s a little short on experience, but already he’s becoming a purist!


  1. I might could hook a few of those! reminds me of Charlie Brown and his kite in the tree….

    I have never done any serious fishing but I am sure I could hook a few trees! I love your humorous style. glad you started this new blog so I can keep reading your good stuff.


    Comment by skouba — April 17, 2007 @ 10:08 pm

  2. Very much like Charlie Brown, skouba.

    I wrote this while thinking about one of my favorite spots for small fish, a beautiful place, where a few hours will take away all of the concerns of the world. You would love it!

    We can’t take ourselves seriously all of the time, and I do catch a lot of alders, but that’s just part of the whole experience.

    I hope we’ll always keep in contact, in your places and mine.


    Comment by montucky — April 17, 2007 @ 11:03 pm

  3. See, this is the reason I stopped fishing years ago. My grandfather, who was the best fisherman I knew, got tired of coming home with missing hooks and a lot of tree-that-got-away stories.

    Skouba nailed this one: it is like Charlie Brown’s kite-eating trees.



    Comment by knightofswords — April 18, 2007 @ 9:02 pm

  4. I’ve been fishing in trees for over a half century now, and there’s an upside to it. Most people aren’t good at it and therefore a lot of nice fish are to be found in areas with heavy tree cover. With the increasing fishing pressure now, it’s comforting to know I can still catch a lot of fish on a stream that is fairly heavily fished.

    Maybe Charles Schultz was a fly fisherman.



    Comment by montucky — April 18, 2007 @ 9:32 pm

  5. As a hook-bobber-sinker fisherman, I can tell you that a similar prey is the Diminutivus Shrubbus, also commonly known as the “small bush.” Most often caught by smaller, shorter fishermen, it remains a popular catch by finshermen of all ages and sizes.

    I forgot all about the kite-eating tree; thanks for reminding me.


    Comment by wolf — April 20, 2007 @ 12:34 pm

  6. Ah yes, the “small bush”. I’ve hooked many in my day and am even now looking forward to the next encounter, which, by the way, will be in 28 days and 14 hours.


    Comment by montucky — April 20, 2007 @ 2:02 pm

  7. Mags

    Great site! i\’m looking forward to reading more.


    Trackback by Mags — June 3, 2007 @ 6:21 pm

  8. Thanks for the visit. I checked your site and will be back later to spend some time. You have a lot of stuff there!


    Comment by montucky — June 4, 2007 @ 2:54 pm

  9. Eric

    Nice post, my blog is about: Joined by auditory signals which are transmitted to the air-filled swim bladder, the bladder will act similarly to the skin of a drum, muffing messages thus creating an underwater microphone…


    Trackback by Eric — July 27, 2007 @ 5:23 am

  10. Manu

    Your site looks great! I have seen many other so-called sites and they have been far from good quality.Your site has all the key ingredients to pulling in visitors.


    Trackback by Manu — August 9, 2007 @ 3:08 am

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