Anchor on Rock Creek – We took a camping trip up Rock Creek last year with a group of friends and landed browns, cutthroats and even a bull trout or two. I took this photo (a twist on my usual water under the rocks scene) during a thunder and lightning “break.” Wielding graphite rods during a lightning storm, even in a rubber boat, is not a good idea!
“For centuries philosophers and theologians have attempted to prove the existence of a divine being. Fly fishermen need no further proof than the brook trout, a fish whose beauty can only be explained by involving a Higher Power.”
– Tom David, The Little Book of Fly Fishing, 1997
See related post, “Fishing in the Rain on Georgetown Lake.”
Another, more recent, photo of one of my favorite fishing stops on the Blackfoot River – exquisite blue-green water dropping deep off a colorful rock bench. We generally stop for about an hour here and land several fish. Last Sunday, however, it was a little different. Ron was messing around, showing Eric Kress something, as his line dragged in the water. As so often happens, as he began to real in, there was a nice fish on the line! And that’s the only one we caught out of that hole for the day.
Ron Watt’s Angora Goat Streamer – We recently had a question regarding this killer streamer pattern, so in this week’s post we decided to share the recipe.
Ron wants to be clear, though, that the basic pattern originated from Denny Rickards’ Seal Bugger (traditionally a still-water pattern). Seal, as a fly tying material, is no longer available, but Angora goat hair is a great substitute. Ron further customized the pattern with rubber legs and schlappen.
Hook: MFC 3XL streamer/nymph style 7027 (size is your choice – I like sizes 6 through 2)
Cone: Black nickel (sized for the hook)
Leadwire: 0.025 or 0.020
Gold wire: Small
Dubbing: Angora goat (purple, black, olive, burnt orange are my favorites)
Tail: Marabou (mix and match with dubbing)
Hackle: Soft hackle or schlappen (Whiting bugger packs are good, too), assorted colors
Thread: 610 unithread or 70 ultrathread
- Pinch barb and slide cone head onto hook shank. Start thread behind cone head and cover entire shank.
- Wrap lead around 2/3rds of hook shank, ending it right behind the cone. Trap lead with thread (super glue lead lightly to keep it from rolling). Take thread to end of lead toward hook bend.
- Tie in gold wire. I like to leave a tag and double it back to keep it from pulling out.
- Tie in marabou tail. I wet it with saliva and mark it the length of the hook shank. A little longer is ok, but don’t get carried away. I anchor it down in the 1/3 section and cut excess right behind the lead. Wrap thread just enough to make a smooth transition up onto the lead.
- Take thread all the way to the front behind the cone head. Pull out enough thread to make a dubbing loop. Attach your loop spinner and trap thread all the way back to the back of the hook. Take bobbin back to cone once loop is formed.
- Pinch off angora goat dubbing and place it loosely and horizontal to your dubbing loop thread. It will take almost 6 inches of dubbing for a size 4. Take a few spins and stop to even up your dubbing inside your loop. Finish twisting your dubbing loop. You want to end up with a very bushy dubbing loop with fibers on both sides.
- Wrap dubbing forward, stroking the fibers back on each wrap. Take it all the way to the cone and tie off loop. Take wraps over the loop then behind it to trap it. Brush angora fibers out with wire brush or tooth brush (wire brush works best).
- Tie in soft hackle (or schlappen) behind the cone by its butt end. First wrap behind the cone, take it all the way around, trapping it on itself. Evenly space wraps back like you would on a wooly bugger. You need to pick the angora with a pick or needle so it remains free and not trapped under the hackle. Wrap the gold wire forward over the hackle. Moving the wire side to side as you’re going over the fly helps to keep from trapping hackle and angora.
- Tie off the wire, again trapping it between wraps. Bend wire back and forth to break it off. Make sure you’ve trapped it well or you’ll lose it and that’s a bummer. Whip finish and cement. Lightly brush out fly one more time and you’re done.
You can also tie in rubber legs, two to a side if you want. I personally prefer them for my river patterns. Tie the first set in 1/2 way, the second right behind the cone. Tie these in before dubbing.
Blackfoot River Westslope Cutthroat – The human hand-model in this picture needs some coaching (sorry Eric Kress!), as clearly does the photographer, but the beauty of this Westslope Cutthroat Trout is evident. We were thrilled to catch and release several of these strong colorful natives of the Blackfoot River last Sunday. This one has Ron’s latest sculpin pattern clutched in its jaws, but we were also successful with myriad other flies throughout our windy outing.
This is a picture of my friend Vicki and I hiking the Grand Canyon in May of 1995, when we both lived in Phoenix, Ariz. If memory serves me, we hiked down the Kaibab trail to Phantom Ranch at the bottom, then up the Bright Angel trail. I remember we’d just planned for a day trip, but we were both exhausted when we got done. We stopped at several small town motels between the Grand Canyon and Phoenix, but all the rooms were booked! We were listening to White Zombie, driving the dark, winding mountain roads in my 1979 Camaro Z28. We were both kinda crazy back then!
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
English novelist (1812 – 1870)
How many fishing stories could start with, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”? That was the theme of our fishing trip on the Blackfoot this past weekend.
Yes, we were a bit late getting on the water – it was about 10:30 in the morning, and the boat launch at Corrick’s Riverbend was deserted. Surely the “serious” fishermen were miles down the river by now. Nonetheless, we were rested and happy to be there. Some mid-morning clouds threatened, but we were prepared for rain and a great day of fishing.
Within about fifty yards of our put in, I already had a fish on – a nice one, too. But it got away. So did the next one, in short succession.
As my husband Ron rowed me back upstream into the eddie to try again, I cast into some debris and lost my bottom tippet and fly – a red San Juan worm. We anchored, tied on some new line and another worm, and boom! Caught a nice fat cutthroat. In my vanity, I wanted a photograph, but this fish was having none of it. After flopping in the boat, we thought we’d better just get it back in the river – so overboard the cutt went. Through the splashing and commotion, Ron slipped in the raft, and snap! His hand came down none too softly on the graphite fly rod secured to the side of our boat. The mid-section was cleanly severed. A few expletives later we reached the momentous conclusion that “it is what it is,” hung our heads and resolutely rowed on down the river.
I was fishing a “trash rig” recommended by a local fly shop owner – a bling minnow and a San Juan worm. Surprisingly effective, I was able to land a couple of fish that took the minnow, and several more nice ones on the SJ worm.
About three hours into our trip, I was trying to get a fish on the reel, and snap! again. Not my rod, but the handle on my reel broke off and fell into the boat bottom. Ron snagged it up before it fell out of one of the self-bailer holes, and we thought we’d just screw it back on. But no. It was plastic and there was no screwing involved. I would have to rotate my reel with the palm of my hand if any more fish were to be landed.
Another back eddie and a small cutthroat landed. On down the river, a side cast under a tree – flash! A fish looked at my minnow, but the bling must have scared him. He retreated back into the shade and was the last fish of the day.
Ron rode our shuttle bike, a little yellow Honda 90, back up to Riverbend to get our rig. I stayed with the boat. By this time the clouds had dissipated (without delivering the afore-mentioned, prepared-for rain), and it was a hot, blue bird Montana afternoon. I talked with a couple groups of floaters putting in at Whitaker Bridge for late afternoon excursions and took some group photos for them.
Ron returned with the trailer, some Missoula hippies helped us load the raft, and down the dirt road we went. Then … there was one more clink! as the inside rear view mirror fell off the front windshield and onto the truck seat. Seriously? Really?
It just rounded out the day!
Tracy Watt, July 16, 2011
Productive Shelf on the Blackfoot River – Here’s another photo from one of our memorable trips on the Blackfoot River. We’ve caught a lot of fish in this exquisite aquamarine-colored water! We anchor the boat, get out, and fish the riffle as it flows over a pebbled shelf. A favorite every time we float the ‘foot.
Cutthroat on the Blackfoot – This is my one of my happiest photos of a healthy Westslope Cutthroat I caught on the Blackfoot River with Ron several years back. I think it was the biggest fish I’d caught to date, and on my favorite river to boot! We’ve saved this picture on our camera’s “protected mode,” and every time I see it I’m thrilled all over again. Wonderful memories of great fish, beautiful rivers, and quality time together.
Ron (in the background) with his buddy Mark Nanke flyfishing on Rock Creek back in the late 1980s. This photo was snapped by a photographer for the Missoulian newspaper and ran along with a story about the season opener on the Creek.