Montana Outdoors

January 6, 2014

Give a man a fish…

Filed under: Fishin' stories, Fishing — Tags: , , — montucky @ 7:47 pm

Eleven months

~ Give a man a fish and you’ve fed him a meal ~ Teach a boy to fish and he’ll have a fly rod in his hand the rest of his life ~

We have a large number of old photos around the house in boxes, folders, files, etc. and my wife and I decided to buy a scanner as a Christmas present to ourselves so we could get them scanned and sorted and into our photo library on the computer. This is the first attempt. It is a photo of myself at the age of 11 months, taken in May of 1942. I still have a fly rod in my hand during these summers now and I can even remember the day that photo was taken. (Still have the same haircut, too!)

May 9, 2007

Opening day

Filed under: Fishin' stories, Fishing, Humor, Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Trout fishing, Writing — montucky @ 2:09 pm

I love the opening day of trout season in Montana, when I get to re-learn everything I forgot since last year! While the season doesn’t open for two more weeks yet, I can vividly remember opening day last year because I took notes:

Yesterday I Drove out to the Little Thompson River.

The fun started with the hip boots when I got cramps in both shoulders putting them on. (The fact that the temperature was only slightly lower than at the top of Mt. Everest didn’t help much.) I finally got them on my feet, stood up and then realized I didn’t have a belt. No problem, I attached them to my belt loops (BIG mistake!)

I broke the ice away from the edge of the stream and carefully waded out. Geez, these rocks are more slippery than they used to be! It was then that I noticed that the slight splash I was making was freezing to my hat. There were some deer about 100 yards away in the meadow and I felt bad about getting them so wet, but I was pretty occupied doing the “Hamsterdance”.

As it turns out there’s a very good reason why you wear a belt with hip boots: then they don’t pull your jeans down to your knees. (That in itself isn’t too bad a problem, but it also means your boots are also down to your knees.) So I slogged back to shore and emptied out the boots.

Finally got to fish for awhile.

There were two routes back to the Jeep: the route I had come, through the high grass and thorn trees, or the direct route through a slough. I didn’t want to go back the way I came because I couldn’t bear the sight of all those little pieces of skin hanging from the thorn trees. The slough looked like a better choice. I calculated the depth of the thing to be about 38 inches and stepped in. Found out the calculation was correct. Also found out the height of my boots was 34 inches.

Slogged back to shore again. This time I sat down, took out my fishing knife and cut holes in the bottoms of the boots. It made emptying them out much quicker and easier!

Next week I’m going to take the only fish I caught to the taxidermist. If he mounts it correctly, I can wear it on my pinky finger. It ought to go well with the Bass lure that’s still embedded in the ring finger. I’ll feel a little guilty, though. I didn’t exactly catch the fish: he came out one of the times when I emptied the water out of my boots.

April 21, 2007

Staying Equipped for the Great Outdoors

Filed under: Fishin' stories, Fishing, Humor, Montana, Nature, Outdoors — montucky @ 9:06 pm

It’s a fact of life these days, and probably soon to be enacted into law, that you must be specifically (and expensively) dressed and equipped for every recreational activity in which you intend to engage, including but not limited to, fly fishing for trout.

The Federal trout fishing dress code regulations have not yet been completed , after spending the last thirty-seven years in the Recreation Sartorial Sub-committee of the House of Representatives before being passed on to the Senate for filibuster, but in the meantime the legislatures of most of the more progressive states have enacted a large number of their own ordinances, having quickly cut through all the red tape after receiving a generous amount of funding from Cabella’s, L.L.Bean, Orvis, Nike, Reebok and eight hundred or so other guardians of our appearance and safety.

Last week when a large truck from Rocky Mountain Motor Express pulled up in my driveway to deliver all four hundred volumes of the Cabella’s Spring/Summer catalog (and I want to publicly thank them for not sending the unabridged edition this time), I was suddenly reminded that it was high time to start on my 2007 fishing budget.

After perusing volumes 237 & 238 titled Fishing Shoes for Early Spring Wet Fly Fishing on the Yaak River, it became glaringly obvious that during the off season, unbeknown to me, China had produced several thousand new and absolutely indispensable products for the properly attired fly fisherman, and if I start right away, by working three jobs between now and the middle of May, I will be just able to afford the bare minimums required by the Montana 2007 statutes and still have time to obtain the required equipment permits in time for opening day.

So far the budget has come along nicely and is almost ready to be submitted to the Chief Financial Officer (my wife‘s official title) for final approval. I’m quite sure it will pass, assuming she somehow doesn’t notice the $700 expenditure surreptitiously tucked into page 12 for a GPS radio collar that will fit a Royal Coachman dry fly, size 16!

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!

April 12, 2007

The trump card

Filed under: Fishin' stories, Fishing, Humor, Montana, Outdoors — montucky @ 9:06 pm

Give a man a fish and you’ve fed him for a day.

Teach a man to fish and you’ve pretty much ruined his marriage!

As usual in the off season (defined as any time I’m not actually out on a stream fishing) I was tying up another batch of trout flies, when my wife walked in and announced : “If you go fishing one more time this week I’m going to leave you!”

A quick glance at the Fish & Wildlife calendar on my tying table told me this time it was pretty serious: today’s only Thursday. Hmmm, let me think… a new week starts Sunday and…

(By the way, I started out using the masculine gender. I certainly don’t mean to leave out those of the female persuasion. If you are young, attractive and rich, or if you have an exceptional back cast , I may be contacted at….. but wait, I’m getting ahead of myself here: there’s two days left on the ultimatum. It‘s still mathematically possible… I could make it.)

“Besides, I don’t understand how you can spend so much time with those slimy, smelly things!”

“Hon, trout aren’t slimy, they’ve got scales. And they don’t smell bad if you take good care of them after they’re caught.”

“I don’t mean the fish! I mean your fishin’ buddies! Compared to a couple of them a fish smells like a basket of peach blossoms. When was the last time one of them had a bath?”

(Well, there was the time when that log gave way and all of us had to swim back to the bank… But I was already losing this contest and didn’t want to bring that up at the moment. Besides, it was the previous summer and probably wouldn’t satisfy her stringent hygiene standards anyway.)

It was now obvious this was the time to play my trump card.

“OK, Hon. You’re right. I’ll leave my tackle where it is, start up the computer and work some more on those fishin’ stories I’ve been writing. Should have a couple of them finished by Sunday if I start right away.”

A period of very loud silence. And I knew I had won!

“I’ll get your waders and fix you a sandwich. If you leave right now you should catch the evening rise. Want me to call some of your friends?”

If I don’t use the trump card too often, this marriage might just last a few more years!

March 20, 2006

The etymology of entomology, or something like that.

Filed under: Fishin' stories, Fishing, Humor, Montana, Nature, Outdoors — montucky @ 7:34 pm

It’s common knowledge that fish come from fish markets unless you live in a flood zone, and then they all too frequently come directly in through your front door or your living room window, depending on the direction of the current and the time of the month as noted in the Solunar tables.

After doing some research on the subject of fish markets, mainly by placing random calls to various residents of our larger East-coast cities, I determined that it’s also common knowledge that while the products for sale in the markets are food, the products themselves do not eat food and have never been guilty of consuming any even when they were alive, something I wouldn’t have guessed, not coming from a large city myself. “And how dare you infer that the fish I am so fond of eating would stoop to eating bugs! You know fish eat nothing but fish food!”

(I also found out that while residents of our larger East-coast cities don’t especially enjoy receiving random calls asking questions about fish markets, they don‘t mind at all giving directions to callers over the phone and I now have an extensive list of interesting places to visit, most of which might be a more than a little warm this time of year.)

As a result of my newly acquired knowledge about the non-eating habits of fish, I’ve had to re-think my previously opinion that 95% of a large trout’s diet consists of small flying insects, something I read in The Outdoor Life during my developing years.

Contrary to the opinions of those who were involved (or violated as they put it) in my research, it never especially disturbed me that by partaking of a delicious trout dinner I was eating insects, once removed: in fact I had never thought about it before.

I’ve never ingested insects directly myself other than on a few motorcycle rides, mainly because around here most flying insects have little fishhooks embedded in them, making them very hard on the teeth and even harder to digest.

But otherwise…? Stone flies: Yuck! Salmon flies: Disgusting! Trout Almondine: Scrumptious! It’s just a matter of when you eat the insects. (I don’t know what almonds eat, but I suspect there was a barnyard animal involved around there somewhere, if you got the roots of the matter, and it probably doesn’t matter, because nobody I’ve ever talked to objected to eating almonds.)

I also occasionally like to consume a large plate of Virginia baked ham, especially during the holidays, and if you know what hogs eat, please keep it to yourself! I buy my pork at a meat market!

Blog at