Monday, February 28, 2011

Kesel's Four Rivers Fly Shop closing it's doors

Today, I was planning on posting a review of the Foam Mini-Clip from the Freshwater Fly that arrived in my mailbox this past Saturday. I am going to hold off on that to talk about some sad news.

I spoke with George Kesel, the owner of Kesel's Four Rivers fly shop here in Missoula, today about picking up some gift certificate funded streamers that he is tying up for me. I went on to ask him how everything else was going since I hadn't been in his shop for a better part of a month. He said something to the effect of...

"Well, things here have been a little interesting."

"How so?" I responded.

"We are closing our doors." George said.

Something looked off when I saw some 8.5" by 11" signs plastered shop's windows when I passed it on Sunday. Of course, when any local fly shop closes, it is sad news. For me, the closure of Kesels Four Rivers is a sadder than most. (SIDE NOTE: Kesel's was recently voted Missoula's second favorite fly shop.)When I started seriously getting into fly fishing two and a half years ago, I chose Kesel's as my go to shop. It wasn't too big (and therefore overwhelming) and George is an extremely approachable guy who was willing to help this newbie find his way into the confusing and rewarding world of fly fishing.

The shop was typically a one man operation. I went to him with a multitude of questions - most of them stupid and he was always willing to deal with my novice and chicanery. He has an engaging conversational style and is not afraid to tell you flat out when you are wrong. A quality which I respect and appreciate.

I tried to do my part and bought my fair share of flies, a couple lines, a reel, a rod, a net, and the like from Kesel's, but apparently the past couple years have been tough ones for the shop. George said that the closure of the shop comes as a bit of a relief. The pressure is off of him now. He said he will be doing a lot of fishing and golfing in the coming months. I hope that I can persuade him to get out on the water sometime this spring. He seemed amenable to the proposition. So, next Monday, when I go to pick up my streamers, I will be saying goodbye to a shop that has meant a great deal to my evolution as a fly angler.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fly Fishing Film Tour in Missoula - A Review

About four or six months ago, I set my watch’s alarm for 7:15 pm. I think I was in a forest service cabin sipping on some of Snake River Brewing's finest with a couple friends after a day of fishing for brown trout on the Madison. Something on the stove was in need of a watchful and specifically timed attention. So the alarm was set. To be honest, my memory is a little fuzzy and I could have set the alarm on the Big Hole. Whatever I was doing, it was awesome. Everyday since, the alarm is a reminder to do something awesome. Recently though, the alarm has found me staring at a map of my field work in ArcGIS or at a paragraph from the methods or results section of my thesis.

Last night, when 7:15 pm rolled around and the alarm sounded, I was about 10 minutes into the “Red Like Winter” with a Double Haul IPA in hand. Red Like Winter is a film on flyfishing for ginormous redfish in the marshes of Louisiana. It was the first of 9 short fly fishing films, also adoringly referred to as fish porn, shown at the 2011 Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T) in the historic Wilma Theater in Missoula.

This was my first time at the F3T and it was amazing. It served as the perfect salve for the recent cold snap we have experienced here in Missoula (read: it was cold as $%*# last night [-2F + wind chill]). This year’s lineup of fish porn included Red Like Winter, Greenstone, Satori, GeoFish, Speed Muscle Teeth, Musky on the Fly, Black Tailed Devils, Midwest Smallies, and Blue Water.

I could on for a while about the films. What I liked and what I didn’t like. I will spare you. Instead, here is a brief synopsis through the respected writing tool that is bullet points.

  • If you like yelling at the TV screen when something on it excites you, the F3T is for you. Verbal outbursts of support are encouraged.
  • This year’s F3T has a very salty lineup (“Red Like Winter” - redfish, “Satori” - permit, “GeoFish” - snook and other salty species, “Speed Muscle Teeth” - mako sharks, “Black Tailed Devils” - permit, and “Blue Water” - billfish)
  • I like everything RA Beattie puts out. Beattie is a fish porn icon of sorts for me. This year, he submitted “Blue Water” and “Midwest Smallies”. I would have liked to see some of the redfish footage that he put out a couple of months ago, but the shots in Blue Water and Midwest Smallies were of typical Beattie quality. I think his style is pretty understated. He doesnt try to be to flashy and lets the images speak for itself.
  • It was nice to see a fellow blogger producing quality fish porn. Robert Thompson, or RT, from third year flyfisher put together Musky on the Fly. He always comes with well-framed shots of fish and the places they live and he did so with this film as well. It was a little interview heavy, but I think that was a function of the “zero to hero” quality of fishing for muskies (truly a fish of thousands of casts). The end of this film is nuts (hint: involves a fly, a pike, and a massive musky).
  • Montana’s own 406 productions showed their F3T debut “Black Tailed Devils”. It was a solid production to say the least.
  • I think my two favorite films were “Red Like Winter” and “Satori.”
  • I liked “Red Like Winter” for the sheer size of some of it’s redfish and a sequence that involves 4 pound tippet and 20 plus pound redfish. Although, their claim that any portion of exposed skin will freeze off in the Louisiana winter air was laughable. During my walk to the bar after the show, I had trouble opening up my mouth to talk because my jaw was seemingly frozen shut.
  • I liked "Satori" because it captured the frustration and triumph that results from the seemingly impossible task of fly fishing for permit. Plus, they included some science with a clip about tagging permit and their gamefish status. If you were there and you heard someone yell “Science!!!!!” that was me. Nerd alert. I wanted to yell it earlier. I was able to keep it inside for a little while, but the urge was just too strong. I am considering it as my "yelling things out loud" calling card in future.
  • “Speed Muscle Teeth” really tried to pump up it’s extreeeeme Mountain Dew factor with some Mako shark fishing. I enjoy all sorts of fishing and fishing for Mako looks like a great time, but there was no need to outwardly defecate on trout and steelhead fishing. Some of the jabs at many peoples chosen target on the fly were unnecessary. I am not a huge fan of divisive statements and I would preferred Speed Muscle Teeth have just presented the unique style of fly fishing and let that be the selling point. Adding an ironic element to the film, the last image of Speed Muscle Teeth was the no pebble mine logo. Make up your mind, "bro."
  • “Greenstone” was shot by two guys on one camera during their trip to New Zealand. The only trout flick on the tour. The standard New Zealand fare: huge brown trout and beautiful scenery. Seemed like a nice trip and they captured it well. Makes me think I can make some F3T content too.
  • Also, I was slightly disappointed that Low and Clear was not shown. It was shown in Seattle and according to Dylan of Skate The Fly it was quite stellar. I really enjoyed the trailer a couple months back and it looked and sounded like a good watch. I don't know why it wasn't shown.
Perhaps, the highlight of the night had nothing to do with the films. Instead, during the raffle (they gave away shirts, hats, patagonia hip packs, sling packs, SA fly line, a Sage 5 weight fly rod, and some Costa sunglasses), a 10 to 12 year old kid won the Sage 5 weight fly rod. Once the crowd realized who had won the rod, the Wilma erupted with applause as the proclaimed “future of fly fishing” made his way down to pick up his new rod. Immediately after the rod was given away, a 20 to 35 year old man won the sunglasses and the chance to win a 5 day guided trip on the Snake River. He was promptly booed.

Did I mention tickets were only $12 dollars and everyone got a F3T hat and a neoprene sunglasses cord from Costa. As I see it, I made 10 bucks last night and I saw about two and a half hours of fish porn.

If the F3T makes it anywhere close to your place of residence, go. But, you probably already know that.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Green Drakes in Paradise Revisited

My lack of recent fishing is not a result of winter weather, instead, I am handcuffed by my waders being "in the shop" being repaired/replaced. As a result, I have not been able to produce a fishing video in a while. So, like I have done in the past, I have revisited a day on the water from 2010.

In this video, I revisit an early July day on a tributary of the Clark Fork River, when the green drakes were present and large post-spawn rainbows and cutthroat were eager to eat dries and streamers. This was one of my best days on the water in 2010. I caught a 21" rainbow, 20" cutthroat, a couple 18", and a bunch of 16"s from the small tributary.

I came across a plugin for Final Cut Express called Twixtor, which is used to produce high quality ultra slow motion footage. While Twixtor supposedly produces it's best results with video shot at 60fps, I found that it produced some interesting results for video shot at 30 fps, especially when water is involved. For me, aside from the fish in the video, the most visually intriguing shot starts at 1:35. Check out the video and let me know what you think of the super slow motion. Should I use it in the future or not?

As this is a test video of sorts, none of the footage is in normal speed. It is either super slow motion or fast forward. I will openly admit that the fast forward sequences didn't come out as I had hoped.

The music in the video is a remix of Florence and the Machine's "You've Got the Love" done by the XX. Enjoy the video in HD on vimeo.

green drakes in paradise revisited from Ivan Orsic on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Winter in Yellowstone

I visited Yellowstone National Park this weekend with some friends. On Saturday, we drove the northern road from Gardiner to Cooke City and back to Gardiner in search of some Yellowstone wildlife. We saw our fair share of elk, buffalo, pronghorn, mule deer, and a singular weasel, decked out in it's wintery white. Unfortunately, the weasel came and went before we had a chance to capture in on film.

We ran into some of the wolf watchers that frequent the park some of whom were following the slough creek pack and others following the blacktail pack. We were not able to spot any wolves through the scopes or in the binoculars, but we were assured that they were just there, over on that far slope, behind those trees, across that divide. We have seen wolves during our past trips to Yellowstone, but no luck during this trip.

On Sunday, we went snowshoeing on the upper Terrace Loop near Mammoth Hot Springs. My friend Laura is an exceptional outdoor photographer and she took some excellent shots of YNP during our visit. Check out her website, VERHAEGHE PHOTOGRAPHY. Hopefully, I can get her out to the Big Hole for a day of fishing and photos.

feeding Bull Elk
a cliff located south of Soda Butte Creek
a buffalo winter
Mammoth Hot Springs
buffalo feeding on ze grass
Bull Elk feeding
new growth
Ewe feeding
Northwest entrance to Yellowstone
snowy hillslope
south of Soda Butte Creek

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Stop House Bill 309 and protect Montana's Stream Access Law

I would be remiss if I did not mention Montana House Bill 309 and it's potential to limit the public's access to Montana's great rivers. While the genius Dillon Republican Jeff Welborn says it would just clarify the definition of an irrigation ditch, there is worry that it the definition may include any stream or river that relies on the return flow of irrigation water, which would include a great deal of Montana's great trout streams.

The bill has made it through the House and is on it's way to the Senate. If it passes, it would then fall to the big G.O.V. (Brian Schweitzer). I am late to the blogging party with regards to this issue, so I will instead refer you to those who have been covering it from the beginning. Check out Chi Wulff, Trout BugsWill Fish for Work, and the Missoulian (an excellent editorial by Bruce Farling of Montana TU) for some great coverage of the apparent attack on access to public waters.

Many people have made the connection between this year's attack on public access to streams to past attacks on public access like the recent Mitchell Slough case (damn you Huey Lewis and your crappy 80s music). If HB 309 makes it through the senate, I can only hope that history repeats itself and Gov. Schweitzer vetoes this bill like he did with the Mitchell Slough case. And I quote (from the NY Times):

“If you want to buy a big ranch and you want to have a river and you want privacy, don’t buy in Montana. The rivers belong to the people of Montana.” - Brian Schweitzer

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I Love Bull Trout

Found this on fly fish addiction.

Yukon Like. No. Yukon Love.

Bull Trout Eats Cutthroat Trout Underwater: Fly Nation TV from Nick Pujic on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A young Yukon on the Fly

My pops just sent me some pictures from my first experience on the fly. It was a "family" trip to Alaska. During the trip, we had a stop in Skagway and my dad hired a guide to take me and my sister fly fishing. The guide, who was apparently trying to start a hunting/fishing lodge in British Columbia, took us to a stream that connected two lakes that were located adjacent to the south of the Klondike Highway just across the border in BC.

The guide put us on to some (in retrospect) ridiculously good dry fly action for grayling. I can recall making 10 to 20 foot casts upstream with a big bushy dry fly in a stream that seemed to be maybe four "Ivans" or in this case "Yukons" wide. The excitability of the grayling was impressive. Many of the takes seemed to occur at my feet.

Unfortunately, if my memory serves me correctly, I brought the most grayling to hand, but my sister caught the biggest fish of the trip. Outfished by my 10 year old sister. Needless to say, I am used to people I fish with getting bigger fish than me. (It will change, it must)

I remember feeling extremely uncoordinated as I brought the easily fooled grayling in. Afterwards, I told my mom that I felt like I left a piece of myself in Alaska and I had an interest in picking up fly fishing. Flash forward about 12 years and I have been fly fishing for about two and half years and I have a what some might call a crippling addiction to the sport.

A young yukon wading the waters of B.C.

the seed has been planted - my first fish on the fly - a grayling.

Apparently, I have had life long issues with good hero shots.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Second Christmas

Yes, it is my new favorite time of the year - Second Christmas. When you return a well loved item and receive a brand new one in the mail.

Last christmas (X-Mas '09), I received several generous gifts from my family, including the Patagonia Riverwalker sticky wading boots and a pair of Orvis Pro Guide 3 Waders. The wading boots had received many favorable reviews, including one from Tom at Trout Underground, and the waders were on sale because Orvis was coming out with an updated version of the Pro Guide waders (that should have been a warning sign, but a deal is a deal).

After a year on the water, the soles of the wading boots were no longer sticky and the uppers of the wading boots had been coming apart at the seams. In addition, I had a massive, but still undetectable hole in the right leg of my waders that resulted in half of my lower half wet wading whether it wanted to or not.

I spent a great deal of time on the water last year doing field work and casting a fly rod and I was generally very pleased with the performance of the Riverwalkers. But, I expected more durability out of a pair of wading boots especially at their price point. So, I sent them back to Patagonia, which like many outdoor gear companies, has a very accepting return policy. In exchange, I received the new Rock Grip sticky/studded wading boots for the cost of shipping.

While I liked the shape, feel, and fit of the Riverwalkers, based on the damage that I had done to them, I thought it would be best if I went in a different direction. The Rock Grips appear to be that different direction. They appear to be more heavy duty, with less exposed stitching and a thicker, tougher rubber sole. Take a look at them now. I will review them in a year after giving them hell on the Montana's rivers this season. (NOTE: Forgetful as I am, I forgot to take before and after pictures of my Riverwalkers. Trust me, they were beat up).
Patagonia Rock Grip sticky/studded wading boots
studded vs. un-studded
With the waders, I found that a leak was developing about mid-way through the year in and around the right leg. It didn't bother me much during the summer because I was wet wading. During the fall, it was more of a nuisance. In late fall and early winter, the leak grew and became an issue.

From mid-thigh down to my toes, my long johns and socks were completely saturated with nearly freezing water. The primary issue appeared to be at the seam that connected the neoprene booties to the actual leg of the wader.

So, I contacted Orvis and apparently that has been an issue with this model. I have returned the waders and Orvis indicated that they would be replacing my waders with a new pair, for the cost of shipping. I have yet to receive them, but I am waiting patiently, so I can get back out on the water.

Also, Jergens over at Evolution Anglers, just had some logo stickers printed and sent three over my way. They turned out really well. Check out his blog for some killer content (see the recent winter trips to the Beav (read: Beaverhead) and the Mo (read: the Missouri)) and don't forget to order some EvoAnglers SWAG for a very fair price.

Evolution Anglers Sticker (slapped this one on the Cliff's Bugger Barn)

I have been considering making some YGF stickers this summer and the evolution anglers stickers are a bit of inspiration to get them made. Would youze guyz be interested in some YGF stickers if I had them made?

Finally, in order to have an active followers gadget associated with the YGF blog, I was forced to delete the entire blog, export it, and then recreate it. As a result, some of the comments were deleted. A small price to pay for the new followers gadget. If you like what you see and read, give YGF a follow and if you love it, like YGF on the Facebooks.

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