Big "Y" Flies

Big "Y" Flies
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Discussing fishing flies, trout flies, salmon flies, fly fishing gear and equipment, Idaho and Montana fishing rivers, NW rivers, fly tying and fly fishing trips. Over 50 years experience in fly fishing, best flies, fly tying, fly fishing techniques, fish stories, directions to rivers and lakes and great fly fishing tall tales with special communications from area guides.

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Here is the scoop. We will also be going on some shorter side trips this summer as well. They will be posted here. If you live in Montana, Idaho or Washington state, you may want to contact IdahoAngler@live.com for details. You'll meet some really great fellow fishers!
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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Kootenai - No Hoot Owl

Kootenai Below Libby Dam
 Just enjoyed a day on the upper Kootenai below the dam with my kid brother. Water out west is still low and quite warm. So, the trick is finding cold water so the trout want die when caught and landed. The water temp there was about 55 degrees and flow about 9,000 cfs. Perfect for trout fishing. Ambient temp was about 75 degrees and we wet waded in comfort.

Bow on a "Black Crawler"
At the suggestion of Dave Blackburn from Kootenai Angler fly shop, we began with dries about 10 am. Floated the stretch from just below the dam down to the Osprey Landing. There are great ramps at both. The float was a perfect 4 1/2 hours but it was quite windy. After a few on dries, swapped to a golden stonefly and black crawler and just slayed them. Fished them down about 9 feet. Both flies were weighted. Since my brother rarely gets to fly fish, and particularly not in the West since he lives in SC, thought trying nymphs might work and they did and he really enjoyed the catch. Unfortunately, since we did decide to nymph, there was an occasional whitefish thrown in.

PS-Dave Blackburn at the Kootenai Angler, has a really nice set up with fly shop, restaurant and cabin accommodations. He also has a quality guide service as well. And by the way a shuttle service. He is located just below the dam and so are his cabins. I have stayed in them and they are nice, clean and very comfortable. I would definitely recommend. While there enjoy great food at their restaurant located adjacent to his full service fly shop and sit and listen to him and his buddies play bluegrass. Dave's phone is 800.322.9339 and email is info@montana-flyfishing.com.

Hard takes and tight fly lines to all.


Tags:  Grande Ronde River - Idaho
Kelly Creek, ID
     Kootenai River - Idaho / Montana
     Missouri River - Montana
     Moyie River - Idaho

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Hoot Owl

All Idaho fly fishers know that warm, low water is a killer of trout. Actually all fish species adversely react to unnatural habitat conditions. Well as most of you know last winter in the west was low on the snowfall and warmer than normal. I just know the global warming advocates loved this. But, back east it was cold and quite snowy. There goes global warming.

Add the unusually hot weather we have had and you have low water (at late August levels) and very warm water. Anything above 70 degrees can be lethal to trout if caught and the fight takes too long. Warm water means less oxygen to pass through the gills. So in the west, we now have many waters with "hoot owl restrictions".

Why hoot owl? Well is really isn't a hoot but a barred owl. Actually barred owls aren't even that common in the west. I really don't know where hoot came from other than the fact they "hoot" when you hear them at night. They are nocturnal feeders and that is what we want trout to be when the conditions are the way they are right now.

Hoot owl restrictions have been placed on many western Montana rivers. A list can be found at the Montana Fish & Wildlife site. What this does is restrict fishing during the hottest time of the day so survivability of the trout is high if caught. You can fish after 2 pm, but I wouldn't recommend doing so and these restrictions are a good thing. Save a trout for the future generations. This is also why we catch and release and fish barbless.

You can still find cold water. I am taking by kid brother to the Kootenai just below the Libby Dam in 3 days. Any tailwater fishery is usually quite cold and safe to fish all day. Also, the higher elevation streams like the upper St. Joe are okay. Slower moving and low lying streams though are not good to fish right now. Soon the days will shorten and cool and these restrictions will be lifted.. Be patient. We all will soon be tromping through snow to get to fish.


Tags (Try these when water is warm):
          Kelly Creek, ID
          Kootenai River
          Missouri River  
          St. Joe River
          Bull River, MT

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Float Tube Chronicles

Caddis High Sierra II - Author's Choice
The honest truth is in my opinion, the only float tube worth owning is round like the old inner tube. There are hundreds of different tubes out there, but most are in the shape of a horseshoe and work well in ONE direction—BACKWARDS. Maybe that is why float tube fins propel you in only ONE direction—BACKWARDS. 

In my lifetime, I have used and owned multiple float tubes. And in my opinion, the old inner tube kind is the only one which provide you with the mobility one needs on the water. It doesn’t matter whether you are trying to navigate a small pond or moving river, round rules. The only downside of which I can think is they are a little more difficult to control in very rapid water.

On a recent trip to the Green River in Utah, many had float tubes in the horseshoe and pontoon shape. They used conventional fins to slow them for fishing, but if they really wanted to hit a specific spot they had difficulty and most simply just floated right by. If you ever try the type of tube recommended here, with the fins suggested in my next post, I don’t believe you will ever go back to horseshoe or pontoon style tube with conventional fins.

Here is the one I use—the Caddis Sports High Sierra II float tube. It costs about $80-$110. It is sold by multiple vendors on line. Shipping is nominal for it only weighs 6 pounds. A small plastic hand pump is all one needs to inflate in 5 minutes, so it makes a perfect partner for high mountain lakes whether by foot or horseback. This Idaho Fly Fisher swears by it.

Big Horn Brown
Hard takes. Tight lines. Come and fly fish Idaho soon.


Tags:  RL Winston Company
      Rod Weights - 101
Travel Rods 2014
     Wading Boots

Friday, July 3, 2015

Kootenai (Lower) Advice

Lower Kootenai Advice from and Idaho Fly Fisher - Recent email from reader.

Kootenai River Valley above Bonners Ferry, ID
> From: DP
> On Jun 29, 2015, at 12:36 PM, DP wrote:
> To: YSF

> Subject: Re: Lower Kootenai Advice
> We haven't met but a few years back I read a few of your posts and decided to get a pontoon raft to increase my local fishing opportunities. I did the St.Joe twice and the North Fork (of the) CDA several times and loved it. I've scouted out the lower Kootenai and would love to do it but have struggled with the logistics. It seems best to put in at the Yaak and pull out at the Twin Rivers Resort. It seems the resort has the take out pretty well sewed up. Any advice how to make this work?
> DP

> On: Monday, June 29, 2015 3:42 PM, YSF wrote:
Great Dry Fly Spot!
Snow covered Cabinet Mountains in background.

> To: DP
> Subject: Re: Lower Kootenai Advice
> DP, there is actually a new ramp now at Leonia which is just inside the Montana line.
The float down to twin Rivers is approximately 11 miles. Rex who is the manager at
Twin Rivers (Campground) will shuttle you for $40.
> With this hot weather the fishing may slow somewhat and pick up again this fall. Right
now the Black Crawler and Golden Stone(fly) are the ticket however small hoppers are
> Your one man pontoon should work well there however I warn that there are some
large back washes and whirlpools down low. It is a long float particularly if the wind is
blowing up stream; but it is beautiful.
> Flies mentioned above and Leonia are mentioned in my blog. Good luck. Let me know
how the fishing goes. Blog is Idaho Fly Fishers.
> On Jun 29, 2015, at 3:50 PM, DP wrote:
> Thanks for the advice, I plan on giving it a try soon. Been focusing on hitting rivers I'd
normally fish later in the year. Been doing well down south from bank. Pretty good
fishing early this year for those streams.
> DP

Rare to see other fly fishers on this stretch.
> On Monday, June 29, 2015 6:42 PM, YSF wrote:
> DP, sounds like you are having a good year. Please let me know how you do if you
fish the lower Kootenai. Plan on taking my brother up the last full week in July.
> On Tuesday, June 30, 2015 9:34 AM, DP wrote:
> Made contact with Rex, I plan to float this weekend, haven't picked the day. Thanks for
the tip about the road to Leonia, gives me some options. I happen to have both Montana
and Idaho fishing licenses this year so I still plan on putting in at the Yaak to experience
the whole stretch. I'll let you know how I do but the first trip down is likely to more of a learning experience for me than a big fishing success.
> Now fishing north Idaho cutthroat streams from shore, that I know well and it has been a pretty good year so far. I got an early start and I think I've fishing as much already as I did all last year. But I think this will be a hard year for the fish. I hope they find cool spots to make it until fall.
> DP
Hard takes, tight lines, sore shoulders and HUGE trout to all those willing to try Idaho Fly Fishing this summer. Please email your fly fishing Idaho questions and I WILL reply.
Kootenai River Cutbow