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Old 04-10-2009, 10:57 AM
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Default Expectations

As I have previously posted, I am a relative newcomer to this passion we all share. I recently listened to a podcast with Greg Lilly about his guide school. I was struck by the discussion about expectations.

Like many, I have watched the videos, tv shows and read the articles and books about the huge fish and large #s of fish caught on some of these fabled waters. As discussed on the podcast, many anglers show up in Montana each year with huge expectations regardless of their experience or skill level. I want to take my first trip to Montana this year and experience it all. I am not naive and I know that I am new to this and do not have all of the requisite skills and experience to be truly successful on the water. However, I think I have to be honest and say that some part of me would expect to have one of those glorious days where I catch a huge pig of a Brown or pull in Rainbow after Rainbow on dead drifted flies while surrounded by majestic scenery. I am enthralled more by the thought of solitude on a beautiful spring creek than I am floating a big western river. However, I want to do both. Also, I would definitely use a guide for a day or 2 to help increase my learning curve and to get me acclimated.

My questions are these: At my entry level experience, should I stay away from the spring creeks and concentrate on "friendlier" water? What kind of water should I target? What skills can I work on help increase my odds of success? Should I work on my casting accuracy? Water reading skills, etc...? I want to go into this with realistic expectations, but I also want to give myself the best shot at experiencing one of those glorious days.
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Old 04-10-2009, 12:06 PM
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Default Re: Expectations

ya know when i found true happiness?

when i learned not to have expectations.

the reality is that when 100 fly fishermen go to montana and fish with guides, 50 of them have fly fishing tv show experiences at least 1 day during their trip and 50 of them don't. this is true of almost every tourist fishing destination. it is true of the experience of virtually every hunting and fishing guide in the world unless they are hunting or fishing "canned" (staged) experiences. (which, btw, a lot of the stuff on tv nowadays is...especially with hunting tv shows...but even soem fishing shows are shot over heavily baited/chummed areas)

tv, movies, videos, etc. create a fairy tale concept of reality for people that ends up leaving them unfulfilled and unhappy with the wonders life actually has to offer. roses without thorns simply don't occur in nature. in fact, roses attract bees and many people are allergic to their pollen.

when you arrive in montana it might be cold and raining the entire time you're there. it is near canada, after all. 2 summers ago, they shut down trout fishing in many of the most popular rivers due to drought and high water temperatures resulting in dangerously low dissolved oxygen levels. when these things happen, you put away the rod, pick up the camera and binoculars, and go watch grizzlies and wolves. you make the most of whatever hand of cards life plays you.

if the best fish i see in a stretch of river i'm fishing is a 12" trout and i catch him, i'm successful. if i don't see many of them at all, i'm even more successful. for where i was fishing, that's a trophy fish! what's not to love?

i fish some rivers that are known world-wide for routinely giving up brown trout over 20" long. if i spend a day fishing there and don't land 1, i'm a bit disappointed in myself because i know the river well. and if i don't catch at least a dozen fish there in a 1/2 day on the river, i was doing something wrong. i fish another spring creek that holds a few very rare small, wild rainbow trout spread out over about 10 miles of limited access water that is difficult at best to fish where you can access it. i can fish that stream all day, catch one dinky rainbow, and have an absolute blast! in fact, if i catch none i have a good time trying.

so i think the key to your success is to ask yourself what success really means. if it means to experience what you saw in fishing videos and tv shows, you are almost destined for disappointment...by choice. the guys who choose the locations, times, dates, flies, and techniques for those shots have been fishing those specific locales (very localized) for many years...often their entire lives) and usually shoot that video over several days to several weeks to get the footage they show you. trust me, i've done enough hunting and fishing shows/videos to know how it's done. it is true that when you spend nearly every day on the water, you're going to be there the few times per year that "lightning strikes" and the magic moments happen. but when you go for an arbitrary 3-7 days, it is very UNLIKELY.

how do you maximize your odds of having at least one fantastic day on a destination fishing or hunting trip? 80% of the game is LENGTH OF STAY. it's just like deer hunting: every great but honest deer hunter will admit that the secret is time in the woods. so if you seriously want the best odds you can afford, stay in the cheapest place you can find at the destination you want to fish. eat the cheapest way you can eat there. travel the cheapest way you can. don't buy all sorts of expensive gear for the trip. make do with what you have. it will catch montana trout just like it catches a texas bream or bass. patch those leaky waders. and stay as long as you can without getting fired, divorced, or going broke.
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Old 04-10-2009, 01:53 PM
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Default Re: Expectations

Ken, well said!!! There is nothing else I can think of to add. Thank you we all need that moment of clarity you provided!!
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Old 04-10-2009, 02:51 PM
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Default Re: Expectations

oh, you're very welcome, nearnuff. only took me 39 hard years, a lot of world travel, a few religions, some good drugs, and 2 years of intensive therapy to figure that out for myself. so it's really no big deal.
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Old 04-10-2009, 03:21 PM
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Default Re: Expectations

txbevo: I agree 100% with what Ken said about expectations. When I travel to new water I also like to use a guide. The local guides fish their area everyday during the summer and can really provide some insight into where and how to fish, but I don't go there with the expectation of having a 40 fish day or catching that 27" brown. I tell the guide my number one expectation is to have FUN, second is to hopefully pick up some fishing techniques from him.

Good luck with your MT trip, that is beautiful country, I'm sure you will have a great time.

Larry
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Old 04-10-2009, 03:38 PM
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Default Re: Expectations

Maybe a little too zen, but like most things in life, if you keep putting it out there, eventually the Universe will kick in.

Expect a fish on your next cast so make it a good one and cast to where you think your fly should go, get a good drift over the spot that you think is holding fish. If it doesn't happen, reset to zero, it will on the next one, so cast again. Repeat as necessary... Eventually it will work.

Fish with intention, pick your spots to cast to that seem like they should hold fish- current seams, at the base of riffles, through runs, heads and tails of pools. Give some thought to the fly you choose, and where how you present it. Look at the water for a bit before you wade in and start chucking stuff and try to analyze what's working and what's not. You'll still have to earn your fish, even in Montana!

Flyguy said it very well, expect to have a great time, no matter what the body count is.

As far as improving your odds, I'd do a couple things.

back home, work on your casting accuracy at different points 20-40 feet away as well as some distant ones. Get to the point you can be comfortable, say landing within a hula hoop and work your way out to 60, with some longer casts going for distance where accuracy might be less important (for wind and chucking streamers on big rivers).

try and get some time on moving water, even if it doesn't hold trout to practice mending line and get good drifts.

If you can get a trip or two in for trout before you go for Montana, by all means go for it, but even if you can't try some nymphing, using a dropper or indicator for whatever might be around- bluegills, bass whatever, especially if it's on moving water and try some of the different presentation methods mentioned at the westfly site (see next section).

google up some hatch charts for the rivers you plan to fish and make some notes on the different hatches - what flies and sizes imitate the nymphs, emergers, spinners? What time of the day do the different hatches typically come off ? Where in the stream do these hatches occur (riffles, slow stretches, over gravel or muddy bottoms)? Anything about their behavior that you should know? ( A couple good resources for this, once you get the hatch charts are Troutnut.com Fly Fishing for Trout and the entomology section of Fly Fishing | Westfly ) At the Westfly site, you'll see recommended patterns, as well as hot links on different methods of presentation. These are helpful to review to know different ways of presenting flies, especially wets and nymphs.

Arrange for a good guide in advance. If you're going to the yellowstone area, you might want to make arrangements through a very reputable place like Blue Ribbon Flies Discuss in advance what you want to do-- even though your odds of catching might be better in a drift boat you may want to do a wade trip to learn more about presentation, recognizing holding lies, and it will prepare you better for fishing on your own. I think if you emphasize your interest in the learning more than the catching upfront and in getting a guide that can teach as well as fish, it will leave you in the best place to fish on your own down the road. You'll also have a very good shot at catching too.

Consider buying a book with maps (for access points) and tons of info for the major and minor waters in Montana like this one, and start looking through it to find some different places to try:

Amazon.com: The Montana Angling Guide (2nd Edition): Chuck Fothergill, Bob Sterling: Books (used copy For fifty cents, it also gives a lot of info on YNP)

if you’re feeling more spendy, these are also good:
Amazon.com: Fly Fishing Montana: A No Nonsense Guide to Top Waters (No Nonsense Fly Fishing Guidebooks): Brian Grossenbacher, Jenny Grossenbacher: Books (new for about 20 bucks)

and for YNP, Craig Mathews book is excellent (he’s the owner of Blue Ribbon Flies) with tons of info on the park's fishing including trailheads etc for the backcountry where you're likely to find less pressured and easier to catch fish.
Amazon.com: The Yellowstone Fly-Fishing Guide: Craig Mathews, Clayton Molinero: Books

Browse through those books to pick out some different water some less pressured smaller streams that might hold some cuts for example, as well as some of the bigger named streams and go over those hatch charts. They can be really helpful in making sure you're in the right place (different sections of the stream) at the right time (morning afternoon evening etc).

In general, you might have the most luck chucking an Elk Hair Caddis in fast mountain freestone streams, as opposed to the more technical smaller fly lighter tippet spring creeks, but mix it up a little with some different water to get the full experience. Plan a bunch of different trips to different water types in advance so you have a bunch of options when you get there.

Once you're in Montana, plan to fish hard, and plan your meals around the fishing-- some exceptional fishing to spinner falls happens in the evening when other folks are having dinner... Plan on coming back from your trip exhausted.

And look up once in a while too-- you'll be in some beautiful country, in the middle of all kinds of wildlife and just soak it all in. You'll have a blast.

Best of luck, and now we're all looking forward to your trip report!

mark
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Old 04-10-2009, 03:49 PM
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Default Re: Expectations

yeah, and everything peregrines said would be helpful, too.
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Old 04-10-2009, 05:42 PM
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Thumbs up Re: Expectations

Let me see if I remember this - hmmmm..."An EXPECTATION is a resentment waiting to happen"...

All of the advise here is excellent. If you go to W. Yellowstone, visit BRF and go to school on those guys. They are the best. Then, go down to $ 3.00 Bridge. Leave your donation in the box, walk approximate 125 yards upstream ( on the left hand side). You will see this:

http://planettrout.files.wordpress.c...3-honey-04.jpg

Rig up two nymphs per BRF suggestions, put flotant on you indicator, work from the slow water out to the fast current.

Expect Whitefish...

Let me know what happened...

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Old 04-10-2009, 06:26 PM
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Default Re: Expectations

There is a formula for this!
Dissapointment is expectation divided by reality. So if you lower your exectations you also lower the chance of dissapointment!
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Old 04-11-2009, 03:01 AM
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Default Re: Expectations

As a beginner I would stay away from spring creeks if catching fish is a priority. I live VERY close to a world class spring creek and as much as I enjoy just being out and enjoying the experience (and I do), I don't catch many fish there mostly because of my skill level. I still go back to try every once in while though! One day I will master it! In the mean time, I like to fish other waters where the trout come a little easier, it teaches me and lets me experience the thrill of actually catching fish as well!
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