16 July 2008

Another Summer Day in Montana: Trout Fishing, Ravens, and Poultry

It's the morning routine. I wake up (a little late this morning after fishing on the Big Hole River until 10 p.m. last night), stumble downstairs, start the coffee, pull out a dog biscuit, and open the front door so RTD can find & fetch the newspapers.

This morning I was greeted by the local raven family. They've been taking the young 'uns around the hill, introducing them to food, danger, friends, and fun things to do. I guess I qualify as a friend, probably because I feed them butchering scraps and chat with them (I've got the defensive kaw, hunger kaw, hello cluck, and territorial quork down pretty well on days when my voice is in good form) on my walk to and from work, and when hiking etc. Sometimes I say the wrong thing and they get really pissed and act like they might attack. Like this morning:

Maybe my voice was off from a late night on the river with Mike Morris and David Hobbs. Mike is with the National Center for Appropriate Technology; he was based in Butte and I wish he still was, for he's a great fishing partner and fellow philosopher. David is a chemistry prof here at My College, and also a talented musician that often plays with Chad Okrusch and others at the MoFAB venues.

We parked at my "secret" spot and hiked down to the river at Devil Rock (if you know the Big Hole, you'll know this rivermark):

Mike headed upstream into a run marked with pocket water:

And David down along the big pool:

I noodled around in the middle--enjoying the cool breeze, hoping the partially overcast sky would bring a good evening hatch, and watching for a photo-opp. Mike set up first. It's hard to hold a fish in the fast pocketwater of the Big Hole canyon. When they get sidewise in the heavy current, they often run you downstream:

You can't do much but hang on, chase them, and hope they don't break off. But Mike hopped nimbly over the slick rocks, then caught up with and released the fish for another day ("A trout is too beautiful to be caught only once."):

Though there were a few big golden stoneflies around, the big fish did not seem to be rising to them. We caught mostly smallish 'bows and browns, like this lively rainbow:

Or this buttery brown:

Here you can see a rig that seemed to work pretty well: a large golden stone or stimulator dry fly with a small beadhead dropper. The dry fly worked like a strike indicator, with virtually every fish taking the small beadhead nymph. In this photo, the small beadhead is in the trout's lip, and the stonefly is hanging below:

RTD is a great fishing dog, and always has been. She stays away from the backcast, does not come around and get all tangled up in your line when you're rigging up etc, and (usually) does not go swimming through the trout lies unless she is following me as I wade across the river. RTD does, however, like to inspect a trout before it is released. And she would like to give each and every one a little kiss:

We left the river at dark, even though the action pretty much quit about 9 p.m. Usually, it gets better and better as darkness falls. But what mere mortal can know the minds and ways of trout?

This morning, after the raven mob subsided, I got in a little shooting. It's never too soon to prepare for elk hunting. I'm going lead-free and working up a new load with Barnes all-copper bullets for my 308 Winchester. I know this rifle will do a lot better than this, but it's a start, with 2&1/4 inch groups at 100 yards:

Then it was off to the Moulton, to visit Howard Smith. A retired psychologist, he's a farmer at heart. His poultry and horses keep him pretty busy. Here are his turkeys:

Which he leads out for the day to free range in an open pen:

Alongside a separate enclosure for some of the chickens:

The laying chickens and noisy guinea fowl have their own spaces:

Howard helped me pick out and butcher a pair of his free range chickens. One for the freezer, and one for Sunday dinner. After thanking Howard, it was time to get to work for the day. Tomorrow I'm heading off to Butte's backyard Pintler Wilderness for a little vision quest/backpack trip--more about that later.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have mixed feelings about eating Howard Smith's eggs or chickens. He butchers them and throws the guts next to his house to bait bears. I think he might shoot them too but he has the Game Warden come to trap and kill some of them.