Missouri River Workout Part 1. My first blog. At this point in my career as a fly writer I figure I’ve published around 300 magazine articles. And by the end of January, I'll have written 16 books for three publishers.
Yet, in 2016, I’m writing my first blog. Feels foreign, a little unsettling—yet liberating. No endless rewrites and polishing; just put down the ideas cleanly and carefully and if the prose doesn't bother me, it's off to the internet.
So hang on. Here goes… (And welcome to my blog-launching.)
Only last week, my wife Carol and I returned from our first trip to Montana's Missouri River.
Though the prime trout water is high up in the system, where the Missouri's not yet a monster but rather just a big, unhurried (for the most part), rich and weed-stuffed flow that often resembles a spring creek (newcomers: a “spring creek” is any flowing water fed by springs, regardless of volume).
We found the river in a stingy mood—we often overheard guides complaining. But we knew through friends—and eventually one amazing evening—that the Missouri can be generous. Looking back on our mostly difficult Missouri River days, I'm struck by how seasoned fly fishers can pull aces from sleeves when fish are dour.
We fished with friends running a big range in terms of skill and experience. Some of the least experienced Carol and I were helping—which we enjoy—and those who really knew fly fishing…well, we were mostly just getting out of their way.
The most dedicated and trout-wise among us tried all the standard stuff— nymph fishing, searching for rising fish and working them using all the tricks—and when these fell short short of our expectations, we got creative, even a little crazy.
Streamer fishing is generally acknowledged to be best
at morning and around sunset.
I haven't found this true with any consistency, but going on that principle I started taking off around dawn with a sinking-tip line and a streamer fly (specifically, my Morris Minnow, Brown, which the Solitude Fly company ties and markets as the “Skip's Brown Trout Minnow”). Then after an hour or two, I ran back to the comfy and friendly Rivers Bend Lodge for something to eat.
Most mornings I hooked several trout and landed around half. Good, consistent fishing. Landing three or four, even only one trout, in an hour and a half on the Missouri should be enough for about any fly fisher when those trout average 16 to 17 inches. It was enough for me. We kept experimenting from there.
That's it for Missouri River Workout Part 1. In my next blog—Missouri River Workout Part 2, my second ever—I'll tell you about it. (In the meantime, I'm going to look up the word “blog” and try to figure out why such a stumpy and annoying term could refer to expressing one's personal feelings and reflections in prose.)