The Ditches of Carbon County

Almost sounds familiar doesn’t it? Something akin to the Bridges of Madison County? If you are hoping to read about romance and Meryl and Clint and all that sort of jazz…. I suggest you move along, this ain’t that.

It’s nearly December. I have no idea of how this happened? Thanksgiving is in the rear view mirror and Montana’s rather generous big game season has come to an end. The Griz crapped the bed and there will be no playoffs for us this year. Winters long cold nights and short windy days have generally descended. There is no longer overhead sun, only highly angled rays which seem ephemeral. Leaves have been stripped and piled in places which only the north winds knows. Our waters have taken on that gun metal steel blued hue as they flow over rock and through remnant wind thrown trees. Where there had been bugs and cotton flying in July, there is nothing but ice and cold and snow and more than a little wind. When last I checked in, I indicated that we only had a few weeks until fly-rod hibernation time. It’s now that time …. Sortta and Almost.

I’ve been spending quality time ditch sitting around the hood looking for that special deer. As those who know me might suspect, I’ve enjoyed the hell out of the ditch sitting. Not because the hunting is so good, but rather because the things you see in a ditch as the sun rises are amazing if you just keep your eyes open and your ears peeled. If I was a better person, I would have been toting a high quality camera to capture all the happenings which I’ve enjoyed over the last week or so. Sadly, I am not.

Sun rises have been absolutely amazing. I’m not at all sure if a camera, high quality or whatever could do justice to what the man above paints in the early AM. Watching streaks of rain and snow and extreme wind thru high power binoculars has been awe inspiring. I’ve been trying to dream up names for early morning colors and find words are wholly inadequate. I can try to describe it, but frankly you’ve got to see it to believe and appreciate it. Morning spent in the Ditches of Carbon County reminds me of what those who feel the need to sleep past sunrise are missing and serves as a reminder to get up and get out and frick’n do something.

A week of Carbon County ditch sitting has also revealed just how silly deer, coyotes, hungarian partridge, geese, ducks, pheasant and most of god’s little critters can be as sunlight breaks the eastern horizon. I swear, and those who spent time with me over the last week could attest, I’ve become fairly proficient at speaking whitetail. Looking at their expressions and body language tells you everything you need to know. I’ve worked with and for folks who do not communicate as well as do whitetail deer. Long story short …. we did harvest what I term a couple of sausage bucks. Little guys which shall provide organically grown free range and non-USDA certified protein to my friends and neighbors of choice. Strap steaks will be awesome as will the smoked summer sausage. Butchering and sausage making will begin promptly at 0900 on this up-coming Friday. Stop on by if you have time.

Last weeks unexpected gifts included way above normal temperatures. Thanksgiving set a new record for Billings (71) and I suspect it did the same for the Burg of Bob. Thus after helping a friend find, harvest, drag and clean a buck on Wednesday morning, I found myself on the same property in the afternoon, fly rod and streamers in hand. The water was cold-ish, about 38 according to my thermometer. The fishing was neither fast nor furious, but it was fishing and yes boys and girls, I did catch fish and had a very reasonable number of strikes. Nothing large, just happy fall spawner brown trout of a back yard variety.

As we prepare for the darkest days of the year it’s time for reassessment and recommitment. It ain’t easy living in this country during winter, it takes tuff. Old Montanans will tell you that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Old Montanans can be a sadistic bunch. What they won’t tell you is that this place and the winter season also requires tenacity. And thus it’s a waiting game.

I can’t do NASCAR, I don’t do basketball, soccer is essentially hockey on grass and hockey is essentially soccer on ice, golf is ok, but damn all that green grass and stuff can get to a person during January and February.

Three, maybe four months and then all will once again be well in the world. Gotta have faith, gotta lose track of time, need to think about promises to come. The little spotted ball of fangs and attitude should help, she’s progressing like a champ.

Ditch Sitting in Carbon County


Late November Backyard Brown

Backyard Creek …. Most Inviting

Toothy Devil

First Sharptail for the Little One

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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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