10 August 2008

Summer Goes on Forever and the Trout Fishing Never Ends...

Well, some years it seems that way. This is one of those years, when there's hardly been a bad day on the Big Hole River. The Spruce Moths seem to be near the end, but there are plenty of mayfly duns in the morning and grasshoppers are thick in the afternoon meadows just waiting for a stiff breeze to put them in front of hungry trout.

And this old dog learned something new. Lose something, learn something.

First time ever, a few weeks ago, I lost a flybox. Standing in a stiff mid-river current, I was tying on a fresh Adams after breaking off a nice fish. I slid the box into my left vest pocket, didn't zip it shut right away, and then slipped on an algae slick rock (welcome to the Big Hole). The box popped out and the current took it out of reach in a heartbeat. And though I got back to shore and chased it some ways down river, the current seemed disinclined to send it within reach and so I sadly said goodbye.

So when I finally stopped in at Al's shop, Great Divide Outfitters, he told me for the umpteenth time about one of his favorite flies, Purple Haze:

Who'd a thunk it? Tried 'em out yesterday morning (nothing like a few hours of fishing to ease out of a beery haze) and they are magic. Sort of like Paul Schullery's "Shupton's Fancy," if you've ever read that little novel about the fly trout cannot resist. The morning began with a nice brookie:

OK, OK, you can catch a brookie on a pigeon feather dragged through the water on a string and a pin. But then the brown trout started coming to the fly. One after another. Not huge, but good, solid, fat 14 to 18 inch fish. Often caught in 8-inch deep water (just as Al says). Fantastic:

RolyTheDog, Trout Inspector, agrees:

By 10:30 a.m. the browns tapered off and smaller rainbows began coming to my last Purple Haze (of the three others, I broke off two on larger fish and the other was ragged). Time to go home. And besides, it was Family Day on this reach of the Big Hole. Overloaded boats, happy (sometimes partying) people, many novice oarsmen getting hung up on the canyon's rock garden. Had to get out of the water before I fell in and drowned laughing...


Shellmo said...

The trout photos were beautiful!

Max said...


Thanks for the note. I am a Butte native/refugee living in Oregon. Your posts are making it tough for me to stay away.


Lamnidae said...

I like the style of that purple haze. It's a little longer and more squat than the ones I buy here in Missoula. Seems like it would ride better on the water. I also like the synthetic parachute.

Wish I could still tie flies like I could when I was 13. I'm only 30 now, but I put away the hobby long enough to lose my touch.

EcoRover said...

Al Lefor is pretty particular about the flies he sells.

I like his Purple Haze (and other flies) because they are tied on the sparse side. I've always had better luck with flies that aren't "overdressed," and often end up trimming flies that are too "bushy."

EcoRover said...

Max, I walk most days graced by having moved to Montana, and to Butte in particular. We are blessed with an amazing, relatively-pristine environment and with deep, enduring friendships.

May your life's walk bring you "home."


PS: For a good insight on what it means to be a displaced Montanan, check out Chad Okrusch's song about Butte's infamous M&M.

Lamnidae said...

I'm glad to hear that from some experienced fishermen. I started to think about the trimmed down flies earlier this summer on a double digit fish day with a single PED earlier this year. As the hackle and tail broke off, and the dubbing began to unwind (requiring a small clip), I realized the fly look more like what I was seeing on the surface. Since then, I've been tying my on the lighter side as well.