Monday, April 26, 2010

3 cutbows, 1 rainbow, 1 brown trout, 5 whitefish and bunch of dogs

Last Monday, I went up to upper Rock Creek with four friends and four dogs. It was the fly-fishing, "Bumpus Family" style. Enjoy the video with help from my friend Laura on the camera.

fly fishing and the bumpus dogs from Ivan Orsic on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

23 and unmatching the hatch

I made my way back up to Upper Rock Creek again this week. I was rewarded handsomely with 23 fish: 14 cutbow, five cutthroat, one brown trout, and three whitefish. The first three hours of the day were spent nymphing - that accounted for 10 of the 23 fish. Most of the fish caught while nymphing were between 10'' and 13''. I caught them on black bead head midge nymphs, griffith's gnats fished subsurface, and double bead head black stonefly nymphs. Once one o'clock rolled around, the surface activity had picked up enough steam that I ended up fishing the surface for the rest of the day. I started out fishing a skwala dry with a griffith's gnat off of the back end with some success. But, after a couple of refusals (fish looking at the fly, but refusing to take the fly), I switched my tactics. With black stoneflies hatching in mass, midges lining the surface, and a couple of stray skwalas on the banks, I unmatched the hatch and fished a fat green drake mayfly dry. I took my three largest fish of the day on the green drake. Besides the fishing, nothing exciting happened. No moose, no dead bald eagles, no bears - all in all, a day a worried parent or girlfriend would be pleased with. Enjoy the pictures and the video. Side note: I was fortunate enough to be able to borrow a friend's waterproof camera, so enjoy the underwater shots.

Upper Rock Creek - 4.12 from Ivan Orsic on Vimeo.

 16'' Westslope Cutthroat/Cutbow

15'' Cuttie/Cutbow

Cutbow Release

14'' Brown Trout

Cutbow Release

Cuttie in the ghost net

Upper Rock Creek cutbow

12'' Cuttie

Gillies Bridge Cuttie

American Dipper

American Dipper

Cutbow Reflection

Cutbow in the Ghost net

American Kestrel

Cabin 4 Rent?

6 fish, 2 moose, a herd of elk, and a dead bald eagle

As promised, there is a short story associated with the pictures of a dead bald eagle that have been circling the interwebs. After fishing Upper Rock Creek on Saturday, my friend and I started to head back to the truck. As we wandered back downstream, our path strayed from the creek with the presence of two moose stream-side. Heading away from the stream, we ducked down into a seasonally active side channel. Coming up on the other side of the side channel and onto the floodplain, I noticed a large brown shape lying on the ground about 10 feet away from us. We went over to inspect the shape and indeed it was a deceased bald eagle.

The magnificent bird was positioned as you see it in the pictures above, on its back, head turned to the left, wings holding stiff to the side. After closer examination, it's eyes were missing and the head appeared to be empty. That being said, I didn't get too close to peer in to it's skull. Based on the once over I gave the bird, there were no obvious signs that the bird had been killed (no gaping wounds). The portion of the river where the bird was found appeared to be colder than the downstream reaches. The floodplain was still frozen and patches of ice and snow still lined the banks of the river. Based on the presence of snow and the frozen ground, this portion of the river could be losing water to groundwater. When rivers lose water to groundwater, surface water temps are often much colder during the winter and hotter during summer. As such, my friend and I theorized that the eagle may have been dead for quite some time. Maybe it froze over winter and its plumage was maintained without significant damage. Those are just theories. I reported the "incident" to the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks at the urging of some classmates. It is in their hands now.

The fishing was decent that day. I caught six. Two cutthroat, three whitefish, and a brown trout. I did catch a football sized 17-18'' lady cutthroat. She was so impregnated with eggs, I could barely wrap my hand around one side of her. If one were to point their middle finger and thumb in opposing directions and their hands were as large/small as mine, that would be a reasonable estimate for the half of the girth of this fish. As I went to pose for a picture with the soon-to-be mama cuttie, her will to pro-create drove her to resist my wishes to record her existence and she escaped my grasp and returned to her lair underneath an overhanging willow. Enjoy the rest of the pictures.

Upper Rock Creek Brown Trout

Upper Rock Creek - 4.10

Elk Grazing at dusk - Upper Rock Creek

A Moose - I swear

Sunday, April 4, 2010

5 and the Hero Pose

Upper Rock Creek for the second time this week. This time I went with a friend of mine from grad school. I have learned a lot from this friend, he has helped me buy a rod, line, reel, etc. When we arrived at Gilles Bridge, it was cold and the weather was erratic. Variable sun, cloud cover, and a combination of snow and hail - lets call it snail or hailow - made for interesting conditions. The fishing started slow as all the normally productive sections of river appeared to be fishless. So, we made our way upstream to unexplored waters. After a couple more failures, my friend and I found success. Nymphing with black stoneflies and midge nymphs, both of us lost a fish before catching a fish. After catching my first fish, I posed for my first hero shots of the year. A hero shot is the classic angler with the fish photo. Being new to fly-fishing, I have had enough issues landing and releasing the fish. So, my past attempts at hero shots have been lackluster. Most of my hero shots consist of the fish, usually small, being fumbled about. Never dropped, per se, but fumbled...and always obscured. The fish never gets the exposure it deserves. Mostly Ivan hand.

Here I am fumbling a brook trout, the first fluvial trout I caught, from Rock Creek near Red Lodge, MT from summer 2009.

Here I am fumbling, hunching over, and obscuring a Flathead Lake Rainbow.

Note: that when I finally have posed for the hero shot, I am hunching over the fish. Poor form. If you read the 13 tips for a good hero shot, I have violated many rules. Including number five:  
Get in position. You want to look comfortable when you are holding the fish, so try to avoid awkward positions (such as standing hunched-over trying to hold the fish and look at the camera). The easiest position is to take a knee in about six to eight inches of water.

So, when my chance to take a hero shot came about on upper rock creek, I could only see improvement. Under the guidance of my friend, my first hero shots of the year turned out better than any of my past attempts. One more than the other.

Here I am with a 14-15'' cutthroat/cutbow from upper Rock Creek.

I probably should have removed the hat and my fingers are still looming a bit large, but, a great improvement.

After completing a good hero shot pose, I promptly stepped on a weed bed in about 8 inches of water, slipped onto my back, rolled onto my stomach, and fell into said 8 inches of water. My first fall into a MT river, after four seasons of field work and one season of fishing. I probably shouldn't have been chewing that gum. Too many things to do at once.

Oh yeah, and I caught 5 (3 cutthroat, 1 brown, and 1 cutbow) - lost 8 (including a couple large cutthroats - 18 to 19''). My friend caught  7 (including a large 18'' cutthroat) and lost 5.

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