Fishing Report

It's "Best of Sully" day

By Tom Chandler 4/26/2006

The Trout Underground is happy to announce a new (and subversive) Montana correspondent, who we'll refer to only by his code name of "Sully." Today I'm reprinting a report he sent a week ago, because I was basically too lazy to post it earlier. "Sully" has fished all over the West, and was doing it long before "The Movie" was even a gleam in Robert Redford's eye, so he has unique perspective on modern fly fishing. It's even possible he's got a few opinions about it.

Still, he's first and foremost a hell of a fishermen, and I may have to dedicate an entire week's posts to the epic he wrote describing last Fall's weeklong fly fishing excursion. Today, however, it's back to his local river for this...

Yesterday morning's Spot-Accurate Forecast from the Missoula trout shop savants predicted that the local rivers would be dropping following several days (yippie!) without measurable precipitation and a freezing cold evening. Emboldened by that forecast and suffering that wanderlust unique to those immune from market forces, I decided to try my hand at a bit of fishing yesterday. Ten miles upstream from my comfy bureaucratic chair the Clark Fork near Turah was roaring high and roily; just not as high and turbid as the past month or so. I eagerly fitted my 10-foot, "Mend-Master 2000" Powell with the pinnacle of Nor-Cal trouting technology, the right-angle nymphing rig, and approached the quarry.

First: "Zen of nymphing" my ass. No matter how you package it, bobber fishing is Joe Lieberman dull. See if this doesn't about cover the experience:
1. Underwater gardening: pulling willow shoots out of the torrent and decorating larger pieces of underwater debris with beadheads and worse.
2. The ungainly quasi hook-set twitches whenever your bobber interrupts its tediously predictable short float.
3. The mindless stupor and random spasms that define the exercise occasionally interrupted with real fish pulls. The Mend-Master makes indicator nymphing more effective, but it can't transform it into elegant sport.

First fish of the Montana season was the coveted Rocky Mountain whitefish. That fish was followed by a snaky brown. Then a rainbow. When the fourth fish avidly pulled the bobber down I found myself imploring, "Be a cutt. Be a cutt." The fish, at 14 inches the largest of the outing, proved to be... a rainbow. A hybrid really. Since he displayed cutthroat ancestry under his chin the day goes into the books as the equivalent of hitting for the circuit.

Other interesting news includes a link to an interesting fly fishing blog from Europe written by a guy who doesn't drive, and therefore takes the bus to all his fishing destinations.

That's all for now. With my sore throat turning into a full blown head cold - and all the sniffling, sneezing and temper tantrums that accompany it - my buildup to the Tennessee trip continues under a cloud of Nyquil, Wellness pills, and tissues. At least Chris' "Amazing Rod Race with Destiny" speed-build seems to be on course, but I'll update his progress later today once I've talked to him.

See you in the cold/flu remedy aisle...


Tom Chandler

As the author of the decade leading fly fishing blog Trout Underground, Tom believes that fishing is not about measuring the experience but instead of about having fun. As a staunch environmentalist, he brings to the Yobi Community thought leadership on environmental and access issues facing us today.

The bus thing can work; the LTN and I were in Sun Valley, and we rode a bus from town up to Galena lodge and xc-skied back (yes, I was extremely manly that day). What made the bus ride tolerable (exciting even) was the fact it was jammed with extremely fit women in extremely tight clothing. Still, swap them for a bunch of smelly old farts (the prototypical fly fisher) in never-washed waders, and the ... more romance of the whole idea fades a bit. Fades a lot, actually. And yet - with gas climbing to upwards of $3.20/gallon - I'd say the Scotsman's idea could soon make a certain economic sense...
Sully's report sounds strangely familiar to what we've got to contend with right now on the Upper Sac... As for the bus fishing... I got the "opportunity" to do that a couple of years ago in the Eastern Sierras, along with anyone else who wants to fish the fork of the San Joaquin which runs near the town of Mammoth. The powers-that-be won't allow cars to drive back to where you'd normally start hiking ... more to the river, so you take a bus from the ski lodge. Everyone else on board is riding along to go hiking(or whatever it is people who don't fish do in the wilds), so waders and fishing equipment don't stand out as odd as they would on a metro bus. Still, riding the bus to go fishing just seems wrong. But when you've gotta fish...

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