Mid-October and All Is Well

Fall Stillwater Butter

Bigger than average and ready to kick ass

Blue Skies, Electric Leaves, Lonely Access

This week of middle October, 2017 should be very well indeed. It’s warm, it’s sunny, the waters up, the browns are down. I have not yet seen any baetis on the Stillwater. Yesterday, the sun was directly overhead and bright and the fish were not chasing our hapless streamers. Yesterday was strictly a nymph game. Pat’s rubber legs (a.k.a. Turd Fly) was the hot ticket followed by a #14 Psycho-Prince.

While we did not catch a ton of fish, we did catch some dandies. Good company and good times. If you still have that fishing feeling, you had better get after it ASAP. Sunday begins big game season, snow and cooler/cold is soon to arrive. If the good lord loves us, we’ve got three weeks, maybe four, and then fishing hibernation shall begin in earnest.

And now for something totally unrelated to fishing. Long story short, there is a very new and super special addition to the south-central Montana Pierson ranchette. Dragging me by the scruff of my neck to a place I did not intend to go, my better half made me do what I did not believe I was ready to do. I was wrong…….as in dead wrong. The world has taken on a new glow with all the possibilities, unknowns, and hopeful outcomes. Sharp teeth, claws, and stinky breath have served to kick me right square in the butt.

That’s right, there is a new puppy in our lives. World, meet Prairie Rose Pierson. 8.5 lbs of adorable. Thanks Mom!

8.5 lbs of Adorable


And the nose knows even at seven weeks

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Falling on the Equinox

As in the white heavy snow falling on the equinox. These sorts of things happen. Usually on an annual basis. Some years it’s barely noticeable and on other years, such as this …. Katie bar the door! We’ve gotten both rain and snow like nobody’s business. And it’s hard to believe, until you start shoveling it. Then you become a believer …… quickly.

Ten days ago we were in a much above temperature and much below precipitation pattern as we have been since the middle of June. I said it early and often and the record books validated it, this has been the hottest and driest mid-June thru August I can ever remember. We have been dealing with a strong high pressure system for the last three months. So I guess it stands to reason that it would require an equally strong low pressure storm system to push the Big Sky high to the side. We got that in spades.

Last week, as the change was beginning and the rain had settled in, my clients thought it odd that so many local folks seemed down right giddy. If you didn’t experience the 90 to 100 degree temps day in and day out over the last three months, you are probably just scratching your head and wondering what the hell are these folks are on. Fair enough. However, after months of sucking down thick forest fire smoke, often termed unhealthy to hazardous by the MT Depart. of Environmental Quality, you can rest assured that the residences of the Big Sky are delirious about our recent fall equinox weather and the return to crystal clear air.

As in all things, there resides both a yin and a yang. An upside and a down-side and so it is with this years’ fall equinox storm. Some of the good: moisture in the soil and groundwater systems, significantly reduced air and water temperatures, significantly increased stream flows, and the wildfire season in Montana is on the way out. Some of the less good: I’m afraid our fall colors may vary between brilliant brown and dull tan, many trees/bushes are broken and on the ground (check out the attached pictures), and my tomatoes never looked worse. Suck it up buttercup, it’s all good!

And the fishing? There will be a momentary burp and hesitation in the fishing, but then things will take off like a rocket. Water temps which had been topping out at 65 degrees just took a major dive to the depths of 42 degrees. Yes, that would freak you out as well and definitely put you off your feed until later. That’s what I’d expect from both the trout and the bugs as we march steadily into fall. The Clark’s Fork is likely toast for the near and maybe long term. The Stillwater has come back into play quickly. Understandably, the Rock Creek system has not fluctuated and that is where I spent my last couple of days with clients. The Jelly is now on the mend and turning fishable again. Streamers and baetis and some bigger streamers are the things you want to be chuck’n! Frankly, the best part of the Yellowstone’s fishing year lies immediately in front of us.

And just to confirm that I have not been resting on my laurels and watching the world go by, check out the pictures. The browns are just now getting that loving feeling, their attitude is headed south while their eating and attacking is headed north. At this time, you can catch them on damn near anything, but my suggestion is to emphasize big, black, white, leggy and nasty. If you are fishing something that you would not want to find crawling about in your bed, you are probably fishing the right stuff.

It’s coming up on Halloween. Scary is good!

Lovely Day on Rock Creek

Fall Brown Getting Ready for the Big Show

White on Green

Hunting Snow Trout on Rock Creek

Pucker up for Larry

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It’s a Small Small World ………….

Ground Zero


Man do I hate that tune. Whenever I hear any portion of this little ditty, I flash back to the Magic Kingdom in Central Florida and the brain numbing effect that tune has on me….. It just won’t go away. All of which seems like an appropriate theme for these random ramblings. It is after all, a very small world with strangely local implications to more nationalistic considerations. Examples you ask?

Last week, I had two unexpected cancellations. As I was calling my folks the evening prior to our scheduled trips, just as I was scanning the client information data sheets, I see something that appears potentially problematic. Hummmmmmmmmmmm …. These folks are coming from Houston and Louisiana…. Yep, you guessed it. Hurricane Harvey mucked that up. When I spoke with my client, he was most apologetic about missing our trip and taking care of business back home. “I meant to call you last week, I guess things got pretty hectic here and ………..”. No need to apologize, our thoughts and prayers go out to you and no, there is no cancellation fee, see ya next year.

Of the numerous trips that I did run last week and the week before that, I felt compelled to check back with one of my folks by the name of Roger. Roger is a fun loving, easy going, and damn-it, here’s a stogie for the boat ride sort of gentleman. I shot Roger an email to inquire as to how he was faring in light of the developing weather events which dominated last week. It seems that his world was also fix’n to be rocked by Hurricane Harvey and by all accounts, it sounds like Rogers’s neighborhood, known as the US Virgin Islands was just about wiped off the map. Fishing in Montana last week and getting hammered at home this week. Small world indeed.

Then there was yesterday. As I was pulling away from the ramp in the early morning gray, I had that same uneasy, unknowing feeling working deep in my gut that I felt when I pulled off the ramp some sixteen years ago as the first reports of planes hitting the Trade Towers came over the radio. Yesterday though, it was all about Irma which had the entire State of Florida laid out before it. My clients, whom I’d spent some amount of time with previously must have taken notice. “What’s up Pat? You feeling ok? Where’s all that wise cracking smart ass banter that we usually go through?”

There’s a reason I don’t play high stakes poker. When I let down my guard and shared my burden and thoughts, that’s when I saw the first little tear roll down my client’s cheek. I let my folks know that frankly, my head wasn’t in the game today. I was more focused on Irma and my parents who were plopped smack dab in the middle of her projected path. The weather folks waffled a little and then announced that the storm was going to track right up the Central Limestone Ridge of Florida. Right over the Highlands with the hurricane eye essentially passing directly over my folks’ subdivision.

And that’s when Keene said that she understood (teary eye moment), and that they too had close family in the middle of the projected hurricane track. They too were worried silly. The rest of the trip consisted of occasional fishing, pushing down stream on the oars, trying to make cell phone calls, attempting to keep track of the storms location and progression and obviously, implications and damage via cell phones. It was a most uneasy day.

As of today, there is more unknown then known. No phones, TV, Cable, Internet or power is operational. Mom did text my much older and more responsible sister and indicated that they were ok, but God only knows what that means. I and a lot of folks are trying to make heads or tails out of what is or isn’t going on in Florida. Time and patience will tell the story. And then it hit me. Folks who really don’t know a hell of a lot about each other, one from Carbon County Montana, others from Central Kentucky or the Virgin Islands or Houston Texas, sitting in the middle of the Stillwater River, thinking and worrying about people and things two thousand miles away, but exactly in the same place. Has it been any different for you and those you care about? And then it really hits me …… Maybe that is the common thread. Maybe if we all care about someone other than ourselves, maybe we can all work though this and other situations with immense gravity. Looking for a larger life lesson and hope for “Merica? Think about that for some amount of time and then get back with me.

Since about mid-June, Montana and much of the western US of A have been sucking down thick smoke from all the adjacent forest fires. Today is the sixteenth anniversary of 9/11. Strange and challenging times in which we live. One of the great things about being a fishing guide is that you have a lot of time to think about stuff. One of the down sides of being a fishing guide is that you have a lot of time to think about stuff. It cuts both ways.

What the Future Holds

And the fishing? It’s good and getting good-er! It’s mid-September. The fall colors are beginning to show. The water is low and most folks have left the building not unlike Elvis. The weather is predicted to turn towards a more seasonal demeanor which means mayflies and streamers and brown trout with an attitude. Rain and snow are suggested for the upcoming end of the week. The fishing is as good as it gets! But at the end of the day, the catching is directly proportional to the skill set of the fisher-persons. And I promise, next time I check in, I’ll have more discussion of fishing and less discussion pertaining to other things ….. Maybe/Hopefully/ But it does make you scratch your noggin.

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