Sunday, July 17, 2011

Salmonflies on the Upper Madison....

Great day on the water..


We put in at Palisades (meaning - A line of bold cliffs usually along a river) and not only was the description of the access accurate, but the fishing was just as reported too; 'hungry trout were still taking salmon fly patterns'...

Clarity was improving which helped the fish see our surface presentations..

Scenery wasn't bad either...

Fish were responding well and though I missed far more than I boated, we still caught a fair amount given the conditions and circumstances. The latter being I'd spontaneously invited a customer of mine Ralph, who though he'd once worked at a fly shop and was an avid fisherman; apparently knew less than I did how to row a drift boat in sketchy conditions?!

Because of this Bob was none to pleased and he and I continued to switch off several times and Ralph never took the controls once (over the 19 mile float).

It was white knuckle nearly everytime I did anyway and we came very close to sinking "the tank" once while I was at the sticks; so Bob decided it best we not experiment anymore than we already had.

(The above picture is of 'another' nice fish Ralph caught while I took a quick snap without looking thru the viewfinder and continued rowing as hard as I could away from the next boulder..)

"Holy shit!"


'The Tank' wasn't the name I'd given the boat, but instead Bob himself refered to it by this often and almost lovingly so. I should have asked more about this odd nickname for a boat before we went out, but given I'd wisely left my own 'new boat' at home; I didnt want to push my luck given he'd initially invited me.

I soon realized though the Tank looks somwhat like a drfit boat, it instead reacts alot more like an old Jon Boat than anything else I've ever rowed before. I was convinced it was built using wood and concrete instead of fiberglass; and once when the oars had come loose from the locks for the umpteenth time I think I yelled something to the affect - of it being:"a piece of shit..", but thankfully Bob was too busy readying himself to bailout he didn't hear me and once safely by the obstacle we continued on and he said very little.

I had nineteen miles to inspect this particular antique watercraft and it was determined to be built sometime around 18 years ago (that much we know). Though it had no name or serial number, it is considered: 'a drift boat' by most people (but not all) and we got the deserved boatload of stares as we passed other floaters comfortably sitting and fishing in higher-end rigs. It might have been the Tank most times, but could have been the sight of all 3 of us in a panic that sometimes resembled a chinese fire-drill; usually when I'd wimp out as we headed toward emminent disaster and insist Bob "..take over the controls" (or a combination of the two..)?!

NOTE: When I start taking pics of snakes, feathers, and flowers, it usually means the fishing slowed down at some point; and on this trip it did and coincided with the forty mile and hour wind that hit us at the 14 mile point (and pretty much shut everything top-water down).

We still found a few places to stop, but still no wading; as the flow was still too strong.

The fishing slowed considerably the further we went down-river and the fish seemed wise to our imitations. Though a few nice ones were later caught, they were of course snagged by Ralph who'd quitely sat behind me catching them the last two hours, and rarely asked for his' picture to be taken - knowing full well the expleteives headed his' way if he got too excited about a certain one.

Bob and I were beat to say the least, and I had a prefectly good German tourist sunburn to match my tired windblown head and face (as my hat had been whisked away 8 miles earlier) and the ride home only made nicer by some welcome AC in my truck, a fancy steak dinner in Ennis at the Sportsmans' Bar, and having almost a fulltank of gas for the rest of the week (the latter two paid kindly by our guest Ralph) who was beaming from having caught a mess of fish on salmon fly patterns he'd tied himself.

Even if its not me catching all of them, and instead catching only a few on such a long trip; the day wasn't anything less than awesome and as far as breathtaking stretches of river; I think I've found one better than any before...

The Upper Madison.