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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 11/01/2016 (762 reads)

By Brian McGeehan


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Everything in Alaska seems to be supersized. Not only is Alaska the largest state in the union; it is also home to North America’s largest mountains, moose, bearded men, crabs, salmon, sled dog race, and most importantly: rainbow trout. When it comes to fishing for rainbow trout Alaska holds the crown for the world’s marquee fisheries and the rivers in the lake Iliamna drainage in the Bristol Bay region is dead center for the best and most famous of these legendary fisheries. Iliamna lake is the second largest lake completely in the United States (eclipsed by Lake Michigan, the other great lakes share a border with Canada). The mighty Kvichak river which is the outlet of Iliamna offers a direct conduit to the Bering Sea and is the avenue by which 5 species of salmon infest the system in July, August and September. The Iliamna system is home to the world’s largest salmon run with millions upon millions of sockeyes flooding into the lake and the surround tributaries each summer. These salmon quickly turn a brilliant red color (often nicknamed “reds”) and rapidly fill many of the rivers from bank to bank with billions of calories of nutrition imported from the productive waters of the northern Pacific. Lake Iliamna and other lesser but still massive lakes in the region such as Naknek, Kukaklek, Nonviunuk and many others offer winter protection for salmon smolt and the giant rainbow trout that feed on them. While resident fish in region’s productive rivers frequently top 20” it is the prospects of these massive lake run rainbows that frequently stretch beyond 30” that attract anglers from around the planet. While many of the region’s salmon species including silver and king salmon are fantastic game species in their own right, it is the mind boggling numbers of sockeye salmon that drive the system. When millions of female sockeye each release several thousand eggs into their home spawning river an unparalleled volume of nutrition fuels a feeding binge among the regions rainbow trout, dolly varden and grayling producing extremely well fed and girthy angling targets.

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We chose Intricate Bay Lodge for our recent September trip to the Bristol Bay region to target several of Alaska’s finest trophy trout waters. Intricate Bay is an attractive option for several reasons. The original lodge had experienced a fire in the 2014 season and the new lodge was rebuilt from the ground and no stone was left unturned. With space for just 10 guests it offers a refreshing atmosphere compared with some of the larger lodges in the region and their highly structured fishing programs. The smaller guest count also allows for a much more fluid fishing schedule and it is easier for the pilots and guides to adjust fishing locations based on angler preference, fishing conditions and weather. The lodge is also the closest fly out lodge to the legendary Copper River which is arguably Alaska’s most productive and consistent rainbow trout fishery. Pilots at intricate Bay can fly guests and guides into several different floats on the upper reaches of the Copper in a quick 12 minute flight. In addition to the productive Copper system the fabled waters of Katmai national park are within easy striking distance of the lodge including the Moraine, Battle and Funnel creeks to name a few. Lodge guests can also target the legendary Kvichak and Newhalen rivers and where massive rainbows are landed every year. When conditions timing is right anglers can also target silver salmon in coastal rivers or Kings on the Nushagak. IBL keeps numerous jet boats stashed on various lakes and rivers in the region and also flies in small NRS rafts that are inflated on site for back-country floats. The lodge is also just a 10 minute jet boat ride to the mouth of the Lower Copper which is a great option on arrival day or on days if the weather is poor for flying. The Gibraltar and a few smaller streams can also be access by a larger lake boat from the lodge to add even more variety.

Getting to the Lodge

Our scheduled arrival day at the lodge was Sunday so we flew to Anchorage on Saturday with plenty of time to check in to our downtown hotel and explore some local pubs to sample the local brews and fresh halibut. The following morning we took the morning flight on Iliamna air taxi to the small village of Iliamna which is a two hour flight. Normally the lodge pilots are waiting in Iliamna to fly everyone to the lodge followed by 6 hours of fishing on the lower copper by jet boat. We drew the short straw with the weather as the worst storm of the season was hitting hard with damaging wind alerts back in Anchorage forecast at 90 mph. With the strong winds the lodge pilots opted to play it safe and wait until the next morning to pick up our crew. Luckily our host Brian Harry at IBL had arranged for us to spend the night at Bristol Bay Sportfishing Lodge which was road accessible from the village. Our home for the day turned out to be very comfortable and we enjoyed some wonderful hospitality offered by owner Jerry Jacques and his staff while waiting for the weather to break. The next morning the storm had settled and the winds had dropped back to normal and we met Brian pilot Blake Larue for our ride to the lodge. Brian hauled our luggage in his plane and the rest of us jumped in with Blake in his DeHavilland Beaver. Beavers are the defacto bush planes of backcountry Alaska. DeHavilland quit producing them in 1967 but there is still no aircraft that can compete with Beavers for reliability and hauling capacity for flights under 100 miles so they are the floatplane of choice amongst Alaskan bush pilots. After a short flight across the lake we landed at the lodge.


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The Lodge

The lodge itself is extremely comfortable and well designed. Wood floors and tongue and groove cedar walls and ceilings give it a warm feel. The rooms are large and well appointed with plenty of cubbies and hanging areas along with comfortable beds. The large open floor plan offers vaulted ceilings and a wall of windows to take in the spectacular views and sunsets across the lake. A huge deck overlooks the lake complete with wood fired hot tub.

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Arrival Day Fishing

After settling into our rooms we suited up in our waders and jumped in jet boats. Our guide Wade grew up in a guiding family and his first job was guiding at his uncle’s lodge on the Kvichak river. Ann, Diane Rozier and I jumped in with wade for the short 10 minute jet boat ride across the bay to the mouth of the Copper River. As we rocketed up the Copper it looked like a salmon graveyard as thousands of dead sockeye salmon lined the bank. The late run sockeyes were a brilliant crimson and parted in front of the boat as we zoomed past. Wade quickly chimed in “smells like big rainbows!” as a subtle scent of fish wafted over the gunnel. Running jet boats up these small rivers is like riding in an Indy car as the guides keep them moving fast enough to stay on plane resulting in an extremely shallow draft allowing them to move through even the shallowest riffles with ease. We stopped at our first run of the day and Diane took the first shot at the head of a riffle. On her second cast she hooked a monster - what looked to be a 26” rainbow that eventually broke off after a few runs. What a way to start the trip!

Our tackle consisted of 6 weight fly rods with straight flouro-carbon leaders. I ran about 5 feet of 30lb flouro from my fly line to a swivel and then another 5 feet of 10lb flouro to the “bead rig”. Once salmon start dropping eggs trout become focused and selective on the calorie packed food supply. Small plastic beads are the defacto choice to match the “egg hatch”. A small egg is tied or pegged to the tippet with an egg hook trailing about 1.5” behind. Eggs are a transparent orange color when fresh but as some of the nonviable eggs age they turn a cheese curd color. Guides carry an assortment of colors and sizes and sometimes even add cream nail polish to imitate a moldy egg look - sophisticated stuff!

The tail end of the storm produced a steady rain but temperatures were in the high 50s and we were quite comfortable under our gore-tex waders and jackets. The fishing was absolutely off the charts good. I’m not sure exactly how many trout we hooked and landed on day 1 but collectively it might have easily approached 150 trout. I literally hooked 3 trout in 5 minutes while wading up a riffle as the trout snuck up behind me to eat my egg as it trailed a few feet in the water behind my feet. The trout were extremely healthy with most ranging from 16-22”. Even the 18” bows had bellies so large it was difficult to get a hand around them. After weeks gorging on salmon eggs these trout were lightning strong and frequently left on long, blistering runs. Jim Matejka from Albany New York netted the big fish of the day with a nice 2 footer just after lunch. By the end of the day we were pretty much giggling with how spectacular the fishing was.

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Day 2 - Middle Copper River

On day 2 we ventured into the remote middle section of the copper river which can only be access by air. The lodge is only 12 minutes by air to this access area and also has a coveted mooring permit in the middle of a small lake that connects to the middle of the river. They are able to leave a jet boat in the middle of the lake all season with a solar bilge to keep it from filling up with water in a heavy rain. The guides flew out ahead of us with 2 small rafts and then Blake flew back to pick us up. 6 of our crew was headed to the middle today. Ann, Diane and I were going to jet upriver for the day with Monte Becker while the 4 guys making up the Albany delegation where rafting down river to another lake. After a quick flight from the lodge we landed on the lake and taxied to the middle where the guides, jet boat and 2 rafts were waiting for us.

I have fished with Monte on several other occasions in Chile. Monte is a seasoned veteran and true pro. He has made Chile his home for over 30 years where he started one of the original fly fishing lodges in Patagonia. He now guides for our friend Eduardo Barrueto at Magic Waters. We introduced Eduardo to Brian Harry of IBL at the annual guide rendezvous in Missoula which is how Montey hooked up with Brian - small world! In spite of working with anglers of all abilities for over 3 decades Monte’s level of patience seems to have no bounds and he is always more than happy to take his time to explain the finer points of the fishery and techniques.

Just minutes after our first stop at a long riffle we knew it was going to be a big fish day. All three of us hooked and landed multiple 20”+ trout within a half an hour. The weather had broken and the sun was shining allowing for some spectacular sight fishing. With so many fish already under our belt on the first day I chose to spend most of the middle of the day hunting for larger trout. I spotted several that looked to be close to 26-28” while managing to top out around 25” to the net.

Just after lunch Ann and I took a break from sight casting to swing a leach. We were instantly rewarded with several nice 19-23” trout pounding the fly on the end of the swing. We spent about 2 hours wading together taking turns on the same rod, trading out after each fish. We rarely went more than 5 minutes between fish. The electrifying jolt when these big bows hit was a real pleasure to experience. At one point Ann hooked a monster - we never got a great look at the fish but a few times it surfaced to show its size with its tail fin well over 2 feet behind his head. Shortly after catching up with Monte and Diane who were working a riffle below us we spotted our first bear of the trip - a monster brown bear that was patrolling a huge back eddy in search of salmon. We set the rods down and spent the next 30 minutes enjoying the show as he submarined underwater, occasionally surfacing with a sockeye salmon in his jaws. Later in the afternoon we saw a few more bears. Luckily the bears in Alaska are very preoccupied with gorging on salmon and rarely give anglers the time of day. Although they are the same species as our grizzlies near Yellowstone these salmon fed bruins are double the size.

Near the end of the day saw two fish that were absolutely enormous. They were hands down the biggest wild trout I’ve laid eyes on - definitely surpassing 30”. The first leviathan was holding in a deep seam with swirling currents and we didn’t have much of an opportunity to make a good presentation without spooking him. On my last run of the day I spotted another massive bow that was feeding in a catchable position but buck fever settled in hard and I blew my first cast and sent him racing for the depths of the pool. When it was time to head back to the lake to meet Blake for our flight back to the lodge we realized we had lost track of how many 20-25” trout we landed over the course of the day - easily over 20. A truly amazing day. Back at the lodge it sounded like the crew that rafted had an equally memorable day.

Dinners at the lodge each evening were always a treat with Chef Kevin preparing freshly baked breads, local seafood, lamb and even prime rib over the course of the week. On our second night at the lodge we also took the opportunity to rest our aching muscles after fighting so many big trout with a soothing soak in the wood fired hot tub while watching the sun set over the bay.


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Day 3: Swinging Leeches

By our third day we opted for a shorter day to catch our breath and make sure we kept some juice in our casting arms to sustain the full week. The fishing was so good on the Lower Copper that we decided to make a return visit, get a few solid hours of fishing in and then return to the lodge for a late lunch Kevin offered to whip up for us and then facetime the kids back home to beat the time zone difference before bedtime arrive with their Grammy. The Copper didn’t disappoint and my appreciation for this amazing river continued to climb. I had so much fun swing flies the day before I decided to stay with the egg sucking leach all morning and cover a lot of water. We fished with Wade again, hitting several productive riffles. Ann and Mike stayed in the riffles while I tore off downstream walking and casting. The Copper is big enough to run jet boats on but small enough that in many areas you can wade right down the middle of the riffles and long glides. I made long casts quartering downstream and let the flies slowly swing along the current, mending occasionally to slow the swing if a belly formed. Most strikes came near the end of the swing resulting in a rapid shoulder jarring take on the tight line.

Although swinging produced a lower catch rate than nymphing eggs, I felt like the average size was probably better and I was already feeling a little guilty with the rate of catching that we had sustained. Catching 15-20 nice bows on the swing seemed a little less glutinous than the frenzied action that fishing the eggs in the riffles produced. There is also something special about the hard take that you get when a big fish hits on the swing that adds to the excitement. After another fantastic morning it was a pleasure to get back to the lodge a little early and enjoy a casual afternoon and a spectacular autumn day.

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Day 4: The Mighty Kvichak

The massive Kvichak river is the outflow of Iliamna Lake. After exiting the lake it flows another 50 miles before entering the Bering Sea. The Kvichak holds the impressive title of hosting the world’s largest salmon run. Although multiple species of Pacific salmon enter the river the nothing compares to the flood of sockeyes that move up the river in July. At the peak of the run 30,000 salmon per hour move through the Kvichak on their way to the various tributaries that feed lake Iliamna. The Kvichak is also home to some of the largest rainbow trout in Alaska with an abundance of 27”+ trout in the system and 30” and larger trout caught each year by a few lucky anglers. Rainbows over 20 pounds are occasionally landed on this mighty river. The river is a 45 minute flight from the lodge and IBL has 2 jet boats stationed permanently on the river.

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The strong easterly winds from early in the week had pushed water across Iliamna lake resulting in elevated water levels in the river. Due to the massive size of the river and the higher flows we fished very long leaders - about 12 feet with 10 pound fluorocarbon and and 2 BB shot to get down fast. The Kvichak isn’t always a numbers river but it is certainly a place to swing for the fence, few rivers on earth offer such good odds of hooking and landing a 25”+ wild trout.

Our morning started slow as we searched for good holding water. The high flows made it difficult to get to some fish in the bigger runs and the definition of the river features was somewhat masked. We picked up several grayling, dolly varden and a few small rainbows in the 15” range. After lunch our luck improved as we explored a long side channel. The smaller flows in the side channel made it a little easier to target the fish and on the first pass I hooked and landed a chrome bright 26” rainbow that immediately ripped into the backing. We made about 4 more passes though the productive channel and on each pass hooked at least one nice rainbow including another big bodied 24” bow.

Although wading smaller and medium sized rivers ranks high on my list I always love the shot at fishing a mega river whether it is the Baker in Chile, the Limay in Argentina or the Kvichak in Alaska. There are just very few wild trout rivers of this size in the world and they always hold the prospects for huge fish. Knowing that at any moment you might win the lottery and tie into a double digit 10 pound plus trout adds a level of excitement that is without equal.

Day 5: Site Casting on the Gibralter

The Gibralter is a short river near the lodge that is known for its large rainbow trout. Our day on the “Gib” started with a short float to Gibralter Lake with our guide Luke Coffey. The Gibralter is a short river and is an easy day float from the outlet of the Gibralter Lake to Iliamna Lake. Although some lodges roll the dice and try to land on Iliamna lake (which can be risky at the end of the day if the wind is up). IBL has the luxury of running a larger lake boat to the mouth for the end of the day pick-up to avoid the risk of landing on the huge lake.

After blowing up a small NRS raft with a generator we set off for the outlet of the lake. As we were drifting through the slow, wide and shallow outlet headed for the faster water below we noticed a huge rainbow moving out of the way of the boat. The sun was up so we opted to do some sight fishing. The gravel filled outlet was filled with sockeye reds and although there weren’t many trout the ones we spotted were all very large and in the 22-26” range. It isn’t very often that I have the opportunity to sight cast to trout this large so rather than quickly move down into the pocket water below we opted to hunt for some quality fish.

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These big bows were fairly spread out and it took a while to find our targets. They were spooky in the clear shallow waters but definitely on the feed. Watching the big fish motor back and forth on patrol for free floating eggs spilling out of the redds reminded me of watching trout at the height of the PMD hatches in Montana when they are nearly quivering with excitement at the abundance of food in the water. Just like fishing our spring creeks back home I tried to place my drifts on my side of the trout hoping to pull the fish off of its feeding lane and reduce the chance of them seeing the leader. Luckily these big bows were more than willing to spring 3-4 feet to inhale any passing egg and as long as we could spot the fish we were able to hook most before spooking them. These fish were incredibly strong and each went on blistering runs across the gravel flats rivaling their saltwater brethren the bonefish. While fishing we spotted a huge boar brown bear 100 years below us catching salmon and later watched a sow and two cubs crest the horizon over a hill in the alpine tundra.

Time flew by and after a few hours of extremely rewarding sight fishing it was time to move down river by raft. The fishing changed gears as we hit beautiful seams and riffles as the boat quickly navigated the swift pocket water. The fast gradient reminded me of the Stillwater or Boulder here in Montana, except with 18-27” rainbows in every patch of good looking water. We landed several more good fish including our biggest of the trip, two fish over 25”.

At the outlet of the river we met up with a few of the other guests that had been wade fishing the lower river via the lake boat and caught a 45 minute boat ride across across the big lake to return to the lodge. All in all the spectacular sight fishing in the morning was probably the highlight of my trip.

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Day 6: One last hurrah on the Copper


Our flight out of the village of Iliamna back to Anchorage was scheduled for the afternoon so we opted to sneak in a few more hours of fishing back to the copper. Ann and I were happy to join Monte Becker again for another round on this amazing fishery. The Copper was the first river in all of Alaska to be designated catch and release fly fishing only. Many consider it to be the finest wild rainbow trout river in the world and after experiencing its mind blowing productivity it would be a difficult claim to refute. Not only is the copper productive but it is also incredibly beautiful and in my opinion the perfect size: big enough to hold large fish but small enough to wade comfortably. After a week of amazing fishing it was simply a pleasure to just soak it in on our final day and enjoy the eagles soaring overhead, the fall colors on the leaves and to admire a few more well fed Alaskan rainbows. Monte took the jet far upriver to some new water we had yet to explore. On our way out we saw one last brown bear - another huge boar that stood on its hind legs and towered to over 8 feet tall in a parting farewell.

Trip Summary

All in all our visit to Intricate Bay Lodge surpassed our expectations in just about every way. The lodge is top shelf and the location is simply spectacular on the banks of a secluded bay. The location is hard to beat with such close proximity to both the Copper and Gibralter rivers. Having the Copper as your home river is a great luxury in my opinion while still having the option to explore numerous other rivers in the region via float plane. After talking with Brian Harry we know we only scratched the surface in terms of the different rivers and streams in the area. Each peaking at different times. Intricate Bay Lodge offers a high quality product and a true Alaskan experience. We loved the small size of the lodge and the flexibility on fishing options each day and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an amazing trip north!

[Montana Angler is a sponsor of Paflyfish and was asked by me to contribute this article. I think it is important for anglers on this site to hear about all kinds of fly fishing opportunities and Brian McGeehan was gracious to share some of his adventures and images from their travels this fall. Please contact Brian if you are interested in joining him on one of these great trips. Montana Angler offers domestic fly fishing trips in Montana and Yellowstone National Park as well as international trips to Argentina, Chile and the Bahamas. - Thanks Dave Kile]

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Published by David Weaver [Fishidiot] on 07/10/2016 (8744 reads)
JOHN BROWN’S BASS
By
Dave Weaver
Photographs and artwork courtesy of author

Potomac Fly Fishing


Harper’s Ferry is a quiet place where the gentle hiss of river current is the only consistent sound, especially at night. It was quiet a century and a half ago on the night of October 16th, 1859 as less than two dozen men, led by the messianic abolitionist from Kansas, John Brown, crossed the Potomac and slipped into the town streets to initiate what Brown believed would be the end of slavery in America. A staunch Calvinist who believed that he was on a mission from God to end slavery, Brown intended to bring to life his favorite passage from the Bible: “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins.” The sin of slavery would be paid for with Brown’s own blood if need be.

Thomas Jefferson said that the view from Harper’s Ferry Virginia (now West Virginia) where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers join was so “stupendous” as to be worth a trip across the Atlantic just to see its beauty. Thirty three years after our third President’s death, this little town saw played out what was arguably the seminal event leading to the Civil War – a drama seen through the lens of terrorism or martyrdom. Today, the bass fishing is fabulous in and around this tiny town so woven into the fabric of our nation’s past. For those fishermen with a historical bent, it’s easy to miss the strikes of hard hitting smallmouths due to the irresistible temptation to gaze at nearby Maryland Heights where Stonewall Jackson’s guns blasted the town into submission in 1862 (and forcing the largest surrender of Union forces in the Civil War); or the stately stone Harper house; or the old railroad bridge; or the fire engine house where Brown and his holdouts took cover; or any of a host of intriguing sites. A fisherman in the river is surrounded by bass under the surface and three states on the shorelines. So much to see, catch, and think about…so little time.

rusty spinnerAlthough largely a National Park today, Harper’s Ferry was an industrial town conceived by George Washington as a serendipitously located government factory village where converging waterways, upstream from the new capital, would drive the production of armaments for the incipient military of a fledgling nation. Jefferson’s protégé, Captain Meriwether Lewis, was provisioned for his Corp of Discovery here. By the mid Nineteenth Century the country had become consumed by the controversy over the expansion of slavery and Brown, a man who by all accounts had failed at every endeavor he’d undertaken, had pledged his life to the struggle against the South’s “peculiar institution” and set his sights on Harper’s Ferry.

John Brown was completely committed. Some thought him mad. After cutting his teeth in Bleeding Kansas where he committed several heinous murders of defenseless pro slavery men, Brown concocted a plan to move his personal war against slavery east and seize Harper’s Ferry and its weapons. He believed when news of his capture of the town spread that slaves to the south would hear the news and, undoubtedly with the help of divine providence, rise up against their masters and march in unison to join Brown, from whom they would receive the captured weapons. Thus armed, a slave revolt would snowball across the land and the institution of slavery would fall. When Brown proposed his plan to some prominent abolitionists in the North he was mostly rebuffed. Frederick Douglas thought his plan impossible and refused to participate. Nevertheless, Brown did get some backing by some who shared the growing frustration of many abolitionists who had come to feel that speechifying, rhetoric, and the publishing of treatises were toothless against the nation’s great sin.

rusty spinnerAfter several months of planning on a farm in Maryland, Brown was ready to strike. When he and his band crept into town that night they had, nevertheless, taken no rations with them nor did Brown seem to have any systematic operational plan to hold the town, spread the news, and develop the situation. It was a mess from the start. The raiders sent out parties in the night to detain local citizens and confiscate weapons and Harper’s Ferry remained fairly quiet through the night, but word soon began to spread and by daybreak local citizens, having discovered something awry, began a steady resistance and gunfire grew louder. The blood of locals, some innocent bystanders, and Brown’s followers began to flow in the streets. Brown seemed not to know what to do next and by morning had lost the initiative to a growing force of local militiamen and armed citizens. The local militiamen, enraged at the “vile abolitionists” and eager to avenge the deaths of townspeople, mutilated the bodies of some of Brown’s followers or cast them into the river. Panic and rumors soon spread across Virginia that an army of abolitionists were swarming down from the north and that a slave revolt was brewing. Many Southerners thought the raid a distraction, just the beginning of a larger assault. The South’s Great Nightmare seemed to be coming to life.

Although groundless, the rumors fueled a massive reaction with ripple effects felt in Washington by afternoon. On temporary duty in the Capital was Colonel Robert E. Lee and a reaction force of several dozen Marines and a couple field guns were hurriedly marshaled, placed under his command, and sent by train to Harper’s Ferry to put down what Lee called the “insurgents” and their “gross outrage against law and order.” Following this force were hundreds of militiamen and local vigilantes galvanized by the sensationalized headlines and rumors.

rusty spinnerBy the time Lee and his force reached the town in the pre-dawn hours of the 18th, much of the fighting had died down and Brown and his remaining fighters and their hostages had holed up in a fire engine house from which they had managed to keep up enough gunfire to hold the townspeople and militiamen at bay. The situation stalemated, a tense calm had settled over the town.

Lee had a lieutenant named J.E.B. Stuart, under a flag of truce, approach the engine house and offer terms. Brown refused and spent the rest of the night barricading the doors and preparing his defense. He had only a couple followers left unscathed. The local African Americans who he’d coerced into his force showed little enthusiasm for the fight. At dawn, Stuart returned to the engine house, received Brown’s final refusal to surrender, and the Marines promptly began their assault, battering the doors with hammers and eventually breaking through using a ladder as a ram. The troops quickly overwhelmed the defenders, killing one of Brown’s sons in the fight. Brown himself was struck down, wounded by a sword blow from Lieutenant Green who had led the assault into the engine house. Unapologetic and defiant, Brown was hauled off to face trail for insurrection and what he undoubtedly knew was an inevitable date with the gallows.

Part 2 of 2
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 05/24/2016 (8193 reads)
green drake I was looking through my photographs from last year and found a Green Drake snapshot, which is one of my favorites. Green Drakes (Ephemera guttulata) are one of my favorite flies to observe, too.

I say observe as I usually find myself on Penns Creek fishing while a huge Green Drake hatch is coming off and I am doing anything, but catching a lot of trout. The mixed hatches that occur during this time of year are exciting and frustrating as many angler's would agree.

So this year I am going to stop practicing the fine art of talking to myself during the hatch and I might even throw on a sulphur or a should I dare say a emerger on during the madness?

The Green Drakes can starting showing up around May 20th and are complimented by the Coffin Fly spinners which provide equal splendor during this time of year. So sit back and get ready to enjoy the show.






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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 02/29/2016 (3598 reads)
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By Brian McGeehan

I caught the fishing bug as soon as my dad put a bamboo stick in my hand when I was three. As the addiction grew I couldn’t get enough of it and by the time I was ten was checking out every fishing book I could from multiple libraries in a tri county area. Far way rivers such as the Madison, Yellowstone, Gallatin and Missouri mesmerized me. Now I am fortunate as an adult to call these my home rivers and they are in our backyard. There were other legendary rivers in the books of my youth that I discovered and they were even more mystifying to a young kid: the Malleo, Alumine, Limay, Collon Cura, Traful, and Chimehuin. These rivers were in a faraway land in a region called Patagonia. I saw photos of my heroes like Joe Brooks, Mel Krieger and Joan Wulff holding huge trout on big rivers in an empty landscape. These rivers always lingered in my thoughts… so far away and exotic. Patagonia, Narnia and the Hobit’s Shire all had an equivalent hold of my mind in those formative years: magical places of legend where the boundary between reality and myth were yet to be determined.

The objectives of recreational travel vary: an excuse to spend time with friends, seeing new places, pursuing a hobby and in some cases making a pilgrimage to a location with meaningful connections to our past. Our recent trip to Argentine Patagonia managed to check all of the above boxes. Our epic journey would encompass both the Northern Patagonia region near San Martin de los Andes and the remote Southern Patagonia region near Rio Pico. The first leg of our adventure had special meaning to me because we would be fishing South America’s most famous rivers – the same that I had fantasized about as a kid. There is something special about living out your child hood dreams. Whether it is meeting your boyhood sports idol in person or fishing a river that ran through magazine covers of your youth these experiences always forge new memories to be cherished for years to come.

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The foundation of the trip began over a year ago when Jason Cook contacted me for advice on where to go in Patagonia. The Northern region of Patagonia was one of the few locations in Chile or Argentine Patagonia that I hadn’t visited on past trips. I had studied the rivers and programs for years and it seemed like a great first trip south for the group. Our friend Travis Smith of Patagonia River guides had also opened a prime slot for us in mid January which is very difficult to get. PRG is widely respected for running one of the smoothest operations in South America and I knew that Travis would pull out all of the stops for us so we worked out a great customized itinerary. Our goal with the trip was to have a mixed experience of waters but also to see as much of this region as possible since it was the first trip to South America for most of the guys. We eventually built a great group of 9 guys to embark on this memorable adventure that would combine several rivers, large ranch stays and a multi-day remote river camping program.

Travel South
On our Patagonia trips we nearly always build in a city day on the way down. Buenos Aires is one of the world’s great cultural cities and not to be missed. The extra travel day also provides extra little margin for error in case any flights are delayed or cancelled to ensure no fishing time is missed. On this trip the bonus day paid off since some of the crew missed a connecting flight in the states and arrived several hours later than expected in BA – inconvenient but luckily we were all on track to still get to Patagonia on time. For the rest of the crew flights were smooth and we all arrived in BA on a Friday morning. After a quick cab to our hotel we went for a stroll in the great neighborhood of Recoletta and enjoyed an outdoor lunch at a famous café along the edge of a park. Following lunch we toured the historic cemetery which is difficult to describe – it is like a small city of mausoleums housing many of Argentina’s famous personages such as Eve Peron. After catching up with a nap at the hotel we ventured out in the evening to one of our favorite BA steak houses a few blocks away to enjoy an amazing traditional Argentine cuisine. The next morning we took a quick 2 hour jet flight south to the large Patagonian ski resort town of Bariloche where we were met by our shuttle driver Guido that drove us to Estancia Huechahue. Driving across the Patagonian countryside is one of my favorite aspects of the trip and the big sky scenery and lack of development is always a treat. The landscape is reminiscent of Colorado and New Mexico (about the same distance from the equator) in this part of Patagonia. Once at Huechahue we were greeted by our host and guide, PRG North director Alex Knull. Alex and the hostess Diane helped us get settled into our rooms (single occupancy at Huechahue, a nice bonus!).

Estancia Huechahue
Estancia Huechahue (pronounced “way-cha-way”) is a working cattle 15,000 acre cattle ranch that has been run by the Woods family for 4 generations. The Estancia has 8 miles of access on the Alumine and Collon Cura rivers and is also a very central location for fishing many of the regions legendary waters making a great base for targeting a variety of fisheries in Northern Patagonia. The Lodge and associated cabins offer 10 single occupancy en suite rooms. The grounds are carefully maintained and the atmosphere and food are outstanding.

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Estancia Huechahue is a 25,000 acre working ranch on the Alumine river with a central location that allows easy access to numerous rivers in Northern Patagonia

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Day 1: Sight Casting on the Malleo, Collon Cura floats and Lago Tromen
On day one our group headed off to several different directions including river floats, hunting big fish on a lake and wade fishing. Jason and Barry headed to Lago Tromen based on a suggestion from the guides. At first many of the guys were skeptical about lake fishing but I encouraged them to give it a try based on my own positive experience fishing lakes across Patagonia. We just don’t have the same equivelant lake fishing in the states: fishing big dries on lakes with amazing clarity. Lakes aren’t always a good option and when the wind is blowing they can be tough. When guides are drooling to go to the lakes it is always because they know the weather is favorable. The lake didn’t disappoint and the boys came back grinning from ear to ear. Jason Cook ended up with the big fish of the week on day 1 from the lake – a big 29” brown that inhaled a large beetle pattern.

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Several of the guys also floated the Collon Cura near the lodge and also reported a good day. Randy fished as single with guide Santos and spent a few hours hunting big browns in some of the backwater lagoons of the river. These spring creek like channels hold big fish which have to be hunted before making a cast.

John Gerwack and I teamed up with Alex Knull to fish the famed waters of the Rio Malleo. The Malleo is one of the most famous dry fly fisheries in the world and is reputed for productive hatches and rising trout. It starts near the Chilean border and is the outflow of Lago Tromen inside the National Park just below the towering Lenin Volcano that dominates the skyline. We accessed the river from a large estancia. Before walking to the river we found some rising trout in a small side channel of the river and spent an hour hunting browns in a spring creek environment. After some fun with that we headed to the river. John and Alex headed upriver to stalk some nice browns in a large flat while our assistant guide Teo and I headed downriver. The morning fishing was productive as trout sipped up and down a large float. After targeting a few sippers I moved into a great beat of pocket water and riffles and worked the water with a small Chernobyl ant. The bigger fish were in the fastest water and I managed to hook up on a few great browns and rainbows just shy of 20”. The Malleo is a big wade fishing river but can be crossed at most tail outs. The river is very fertile and there were a plethora of mayflies and caddis hatching throughout the morning. In the late morning we moved into some long glides and began targeting individual fish. These trout had more time to inspect flies but were still willing to eat as long as the flies were placed with a nice presentation – my kind of fishing!

In the afternoon we worked a blend of small side channels and large flats. On the flats we crept through the willow lined banks to target browns holding tight to cover and made short casts from low positions to intercept their feeding lines. The small channels also produced some nice fishing.

Day 2: Willow Worms on the Alumine, Filo Hua Home and Lago Tromen
The Alumine is a large river that reminds me of a slightly larger version of Montana’s Bighole River. It originates at the outflow of the Alumine Lake close to the Andes near the Chilean border. Eventually it forms the Collon Cura along with the Chimehuine. It offers a great blend of long pools and fast pocket water. On our second day we followed Alex’s advice to attempt a float high on the upper river where he had a hunch we might see some willow worm action. The week before some of the guides had attempted this section with mixed results but Alex felt we needed to try it as the worms were on schedule to show themselves.

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The willow worm (Nematus Desantisi) is a bright green larva of a moth like butterfly. The small worms are about a half an inch long and spend their days eating the willow leaves. They aren’t very nimble and a gentle breeze is all that is needed to knock them off their perches and into the water where they are promptly devoured by hungry trout.
As we drove to the upper waters of the river about an hour from the lodge – we began to notice that the willows along the river had a sparse canopy. Upon closer inspection many of the leaves had been chewed down to the twig – the willow worms had arrived!

We had two boats on this section of the river. Jason Cook and I teamed up with guide Hernan Zorzit while brothers Tom and Barry Matlack fished with Andres Hermosilla. Shortly after putting in Hernan rowed us across the river and beelined for a stand of willows that leaned over the river. Within seconds we spotted several nice rainbows in the 15-18” class that were patrolling the large slack water hunting for worms. When trout are feeding on worms the move out of the faster pocket water for lazy backwaters and eddies under the willow trees – apparently there is no need to waste energy fighting current when you can inhale willow worms by the dozens with a few flicks of a caudal fin. Hernan had us rigged up with longer leaders and 4x tippet to help fool the trout in the gin clear water – in the slower currents they have plenty of time to inspect the fly. We were on the early cusp of the “hatch” and the fish were very eager to take our flies. Hernan had tied some chartreuse chenille worms that we ginked up with floatant frequently. Some of the other guides also used a larger beetle pattern with a subsurface worm fished just 8 inches below the dry. We had no problem hooking trout as long as we made a good presentation and had few refusals. Hernan explained that as the trout became more accustomed to the willow worms they became more and more selective – almost like spring creek trout over a PMD hatch. He mentioned sometimes the trout only want them on the surface and other days the only want them subsurface but only if they are slowly falling through the water column. The guides have experimented with neutrally buoyant worm patterns that sink at a very slow rate to simulate the naturals falling through the water.

The number of willow worms was amazing. In some of the backwaters there was literally a worm either on the surface or just below the surface every inches. The trout were literally swimming slowly in circles gorging themselves.

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It turned out to be a beautiful day with nearly non-stop action from launch until takeout. The fishing definitely wasn’t brainless and most of the day was spent targeting individual fish and then making delicate but accurate casts to intercept the cruisers – very high quality stuff! Although we found a few browns sprinkled in the fishing was dominated by extremely strong fighting, plump rainbows. We hooked and landed several in the 18-21” class to round the day out with dozens in the 14-17” range. A great second day of the trip and definitely one of the high points of the trip for me.
When we arrived back at the estancia the crew that had returned from Lago Tromen were grinning ear to ear. Mike and David had slayed them again and although didn’t match Jason’s 29” bruiser had well over 20 trout over 19” to the net.

Randy and John had made a long drive to the Filo Hua Home river. The Filo Hua Home is on a private estancia that is inside of a National Park. The estancia was grandfathered in after the park was established so it is a unique situation with privately accessed water inside of a National Park. The river is gin clear and most of the fishing is site casting to large browns. Randy and John were also glowing after an incredible day.

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Day 3: Limay Medio camping trip
On day three the entire team embarked on a 3 day river camping trip to the Limay River. We were fishing the remote Limay Medio section (or “Middle” Limay). The Limay is a massive tailwater with big flows and big fish. Imagine the Missouri River on steroids. The Limay collects all of the waters coming off of the Andes including the Alumine, Chimehuine, Malleo, Collon Cura, just as the Missouri collects the waters of legendary rivers such as the Madison, Jefferson, Beaverhead, Bighole, and Gallatin at home in Montana. The landscape is vast and spectacular with arid semi dessert vegetation and large red rock cliffs towering along the river.

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I teamed up with Alex solo in his skiff and the rest of the guys paired off in different boats. Our strategy was to swing for the fence and hope for a large 25-30+” brown. There aren’t many rivers that grow browns over 30” but this was one of them. We had two rods rigged – a stiff six weight to throw huge Chernobyl ants and a 7 weight with a 250 grain sink tip to strip streamers. We fished the huge dries in the middle of the river across long swift flats. The technique was to cast quartering downstream while back rowing to slow the boat allowing the flies to slowly swing across the current while using small mends and strips to allow the fly to pulsate with the long rubber legs dancing on the surface. Within a few minutes of casting I had a big rainbow boil behind the fly – I set too soon and wasn’t able to hook the fish. It reminded me a bit of the first day of a bonefishing trip where my trout setting tendencies take over and instead of strip setting and keeping the rod low I lift the rod in a traditional trout set. The lift of the rod too quickly often pulls the fly from the fish. With this technique it is important to give the big trout some time to take the fly and then use a strip set just in case they don’t have it yet allowing the fly to remain in the water.

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The glides on the big river were swift and deep but the water was gin clear and big trout would come up out of 7-8 feet of water to take the dries. When the current would neck down into powerful riffles we would stop and swing big streamers deep along the seams. Along the way we passed numerous pods of 19-21” rainbows aggressively midging in back eddies and on seams. It was pretty difficult to pass up these fish – how often can you throw small dries to big fish like that? But the only way to catch a 30” trout is to skip the 20 inchers so we stuck to the plan. The fishing was not red hot – sometimes 2-3 fish in a row and other times an hour or so between takes but by the end of the day we had about 10 fish to the net including a huge 25” brown that Alex roped on a big dry and several other fish in the 20-22” inch class.

The rest of the guys had similar luck with the afternoon producing steady action after a sporadic morning. Nearly all of the fish were large and unbelievably strong. Alex indicated that sometimes on the trips they will fish dry dropper and spend more time in some of the riffle drops like you might do with a nymph rig on the Bighorn – each of these buckets can produce 8-10 fish. The guys in our crew were all fairly experienced fly anglers and opted to stick with the huge dries and the excited takes the produced.
After a great day of fishing we floated into camp. The “unplugged” camps are very similar to our Smith River camps in Montana with a big wall tent serving as the kitchen, large Cabelas outfitter tents for sleeping complete with cots and sleeping pads. The guys also had a great on demand hot water system rigged for showering which was very welcome. The cook team were hard at work preparing steaks over open coals while we enjoyed the full bar set up along the river – not a bad way to camp!

Day 4: Limay overnight continued
Day three produced nearly identical river conditions to our first day on the water. We continued our pursuit of big fish on big dries. The action was similar to our first day with steady success targeting bit trout on the size 2 chernobyl ants. I had a few great streamer takes and managed to land a few along the way – I think I enjoy clear water streamer fishing where the takes are visual just as much as skating the big dries. The camp on night two was even more spectacular than the first night with the camp tucked under a canopy of tall willows along a towering wall of cliffs. In the evening a massive lightning storm skirted the camp producing one of the most intense light shows I have ever seen, along with some pretty stiff wind that managed to blow down the “groover” tent.

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Day 5: Limay and the Collon Cura
On our last morning of the overnight we awoke to a river that had quadrupled in size. There are 5 reservoirs on the Limay River that are part of an extensive hydroelectric system and periodically water is moved from reservoir to reservoir to meet electricity demands in Buenos Aires to the north. The system had risen several feet and the flat where we had enjoyed cocktails the night before was completely underwater. Although there was still about 3 feet of clarity in the river, plenty for fish to see streamers, trout never like such an abrupt change in flows. The guides devised a backup plan to provide a new option as a result of the flow spike. Alex spent breakfast on the radio with the support team running shuttles and determined that we would take out about an hours float from camp and then head to Quemquentreu estancia earlier than planned with the hopes of getting a short float on the ranch waters later in the day.

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With the higher flows we gave up on the prospects of surface action and I rigged up a large tandem hook streamer on my 7 weight with the 250 grain head. Alex indicated that although the high flows can significantly lower catch rates on the rainbows it can push the huge browns in the river out of the main channels and into the soft water. With the knowledge that we only had about an hour on the water I through the streamer with reckless abandon – no need to worry about conserving arm strength. About 200 yards from the take out the fly stopped in a jarring strike and I had what felt the tell-tale low frequency head shaking of a big brown. Just as my hopes began to sale the hook released leaving only my imagination to ponder the prospects of what was on the other end of the line.

Estancia Quemquemtreu
After taking out we made a long drive to Estancia Quemquemtreu (pronounced kem-kem-tray-oo), this massive 200,000 working ranch is steeped in history and tradition.
The ranch is so large that when you first arrive at the outer edge, you still have another hour of driving dirt roads to get to the ranch headquarters and lodge. The guides opted for a short cut to save 2 hours of driving which required fording the Caleufu River (yet another productive Patagonian river). When we arrived at the crossing Andres’s diesel Volkswagen truck was stalled in the middle of the river. Apparently he attempted the crossing with a little too much velocity and the water pushed up into the grill and entered the air filter. After some conferencing on the far side Santo dropped his boat trailer and attached a pull strap. We all held our breath as Santos dropped his Toyota Hilux into 4-lo and attempted pull the stranded truck out. The prospects were not good if the plot were to fail with the nearest town over 2 hours drive. After 2 failed attempts the Toyota gained traction and successfully pulled Andres to the far shore. After inspecting the engine the air filter was sopping wet and the engine wouldn’t start. We decided that Alex and I would remain with Andres while the rest of the guides would take the remainder of our crew to float the Collon Cura. Luckily we had some cell service and were able to get a mechanic in San Martin on the line to provide some long distance guidance. After about an hour of fiddling with the truck it started, much to the relief of Andres, and we headed to the lodge.

The ranch headquarters and lodge are tucked away in an expansive stand of mature willows and poplars. Guests are housed in a combination of the large estancia house and some cabins. The lodge is nearly 100 years old and has a warm and charming feel with old floor boards, antique wood accents and numerous windows overlooking the carefully manicured lawn. Also on the grounds are a huge asado area for gathering during traditional Argentine barbques as well as a bar and game room area. We were greeted by hour hostess, the warm and inviting Paula …, who helped get me settled in with a quick tour of the ranch house.

The bar room is filled with photographs of numerous fly fishing legends that have made the pilgrimage to Quemquemtreu over the years along with some great works by local artists. The game room is complete with a pool table, ping pong table and some traditional coin tossing games.

When the rest of the crew arrived after fishing we sat to a deliciously prepared family style meal in the estancia house. Most of the components of the meal including the beef, vegetables and homemade pasta and freshly baked break had their origins right from the estancia.

Day 6: Quemquemtreu Creek and the Collon Cura river

Since the estancia is so vast generally when you stay at Quemquemtreu you only fish the estancia waters. The good news is that with 20 miles of Quemquemtreu creek and 30 miles of the Collon Cura there is no shortage of great water at hand. Our plan for the final day was to float the Collon Cura. We were going to send 2 boats to the middle float and 3 to the lower float. On the way to the river Alex and I stopped for a quick 1 hour session of wading on Quemquemtreu creek.

Quemquemtreu creek turned out to be a fantastic fishery. It was infested with small to medium sized rainbows in the 10-15” class that aggressively smacked a small fat albert. The creek has great structure with a blend of riffles and deep undercut bank pools. It is just the right size with enough deep runs to hold some larger trout yet easily crossed at every tailout. I was quite pleased with the hard fighting 12-14” bows that were in abundance but even more surprised when a big 17” brown inhaled my fly. Alex mentioned that the creek actually holds some browns over 20” and the guides have landed a few in the 25” class over the years. I loved this kind of fishing and could have spent the day there but we had part of the group lunch in our cooler and headed for the Collon Cura.

The Collon Cura on the ranch is nothing short of spectacular. Although smaller than the mighty Limay which it feeds, it is still a formidable river and reminded me of the Yellowstone River between Livingston and Big Timber. In fact the 30 miles of water the ranch has is about equal in length to that section of the Yellowstone – except without any other boats on it! The rivers structure is enough to make any avid trout angler drool with productive long riffles, cliff wall runs, long seams, glides, etc. The river changes dramatically while it crosses the ranch and each float has its own character providing a lot of variety and several different ways in which it can be fished.

We headed to the lower float at the bottom end of the ranch. Just as on the Alumine we saw evidence of the willow worms in the trees along the river. Alex explained that you can choose to fish the large river or the smaller side channels and “lagoons”. We opted to spend most of the day hunting for larger fish in the spring creek like lagoons and side channels. The side channels are much different than a typical side channel on the Yellowstone River – they seem as if they are completely separate from the main system and lack the large gravel washes of the bigger water. Some of the channels go on for miles and are influenced heavily by spring seeps. The name of the game in these channels is spot and stock and we crept along the willows looking for fish. With a few minutes we discovered a nice 19” rainbow slowly patrolling a back water. On the second cast the rainbow did a figure 8 around my willow worm and eventually inhaled it. Most of the trout we encountered in the channels were browns – almost all good fish. After a great lunch on the river with the rest of the guys floating the lower waters we headed for one more elaborate side channel system where we spotted a big 21” brown. The fish was living under a willow overhang and was holding in a subtle current. He was in a very difficult lie and there weren’t a lot of alternatives. We discussed trying to approach from the far side of the channel, and while I was confident I could get a cast under the overhanging branches I was worried that the fly would begin to drag before it arrived at the brown holding in the slack waters. From my past experiences you usually only get one shot at a fish like this and if he saw the flies with even the slightest of drag it would be game over. I eventually opted to try a bow and arrow cast while hidden behind some brush. Alex set up below the fish while I crept up along the bank behind some downfall, I couldn’t see the trout but knew that he was almost directly below me. I have had great success using the bow and arrow cast on spring creeks and find that as long as you stay out of view, keep a low profile and approach very slowly you can get within just a few feet of even the biggest trout. The advantage is that since you are nearly right on top of the trout you are rewarded with a drag free float.

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I held the fly in my left hand on a short line and slowly extend the road tip beyond the deadfall so that it protruded over the water. As I extended the rod the fly put a nice bend in the graphite. Once it was adequately loaded I adjusted, aimed and let the fly sail out of view. Almost immediately after pulling the trigger Alex screamed “he ate it”. I lifted the rod into a deep bend – the big brown held fast and simply shook his head for several seconds before plaining out across the channel. This was the moment of truth in the fight – the big fish had plenty of steam and there was no shortage of downed branches for him to wrap around. I hurdled over the deadfall and into center of the channel. Luckily the big fish was putting up a determined bulldogging fight but remained out of harms way. On one or two occasions he made a run for some timber but each time I was able to change the direction of the rod and put some heavy pressure on him to change his course. Eventually we landed the heavy trout – a gorgeous specimen!

In the last hour of the float we returned to the main river to work a few riffle drops just before the river entered a huge reservoir. This section of the river is home to the famous “minnow run” that begins in mid February and extends into April. Small minnows move into the river from out of the reservoir by the millions. The inch long baitfish are a favorites of big trout and a big push of large lake rainbows follows the minnows out of the lake to join with the resident river trout. The rainbows will work in small schools to push the minnows into entrapment areas such as gravel shelves and cliff walls where they will attack the clouds of baitfish just as jacks will do in the channels between ocean flats.

As the day ended we reconnected with Tom and Wendel’s boat at the takeout. Tom was grinning from ear to ear after a great day of fishing the willow worm. Wendel had managed to rope a huge 26” brown in one of the side channels and had a great photo to provide evidence of the monster.

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Trip Summary
As the week ended most of our crew headed to Bariloche to catch flights home. Randy and I had a long road day to continue south to the Rio Pico region for another week in Patagonia (see part 2 of our Argentina trip report soon to follow). There is certainly a lot of water in the San Martin area and while we certainly didn’t see all of it in 6 days of fishing we definitely sampled a great variety. Each fishery had its own personality and they all delivered in their own way. The Estancias were exceptional and provided a wonderful and authentic experience and we all enjoyed both the traditional cuisine and the warm hospitality. The guides were nothing short of fantastic – an incredibly experienced team of guys that all held their own but also worked effortlessly together as a team. I’m already daydreaming about my next opportunity to head back to visit some new friends and incredible waters.

Please contact Brian McGeehan if you are interested in joining him on one of these great trips. Montana Angler offers domestic fly fishing trips in Montana and Yellowstone National Park as well as international trips to Argentina, Chile and the Bahamas.


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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 12/15/2015 (1833 reads)
Here's the latest from our favorite fly fishing guide Hank Paterson. Here's the trailer for his feature film! Hank Patterson & The Mystery of The CuttyRainBrown! To learn more get over to HankPatterson.com Snap It!

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Published by Jeff [Aducker] on 10/28/2015 (1476 reads)
I’m fairly new to fly fishing and found the paflyfisher.com site about 4 years ago I began reading everything on the forums, posting questions and taking advantage of what the site had to offer. I attended my first newbie jam in spring of 2012. Then a brush up jam that summer and another fall brush up the same year. Since then I have been attending the mini jams and have attended the main jam the past two years. In this short amount of time I learned so much, met many people who spent time answering questions and taking time to show me how to fly fish.

Montana flyfishingSo this past winter I felt I was ready to plan a trip to Montana. Not that I would consider myself an accomplished fly fisher, but still thought I was ready to fish Montana with some success. Searching our forum for information on where to go and when to go it seamed like July was the best time to go but I couldn’t make this July and I found hints of information that were saying fall was also a great time to go. So fall it was. Now knowing when I could go it was time to find a guide service. I did more research on our forum and the internet and decided on using our very own site sponsor “Montana Angler Fly Fishing

My experience with Montana Anglers was perfect right from the beginning. In August I filled out their web form and was immediately contacted by Brian McGeehan, the owner of the guide service. We spoke about my fishing experiences and what kind of trip I was looking for. Within 20 minutes I booked my trip on the phone for late September. We confirmed and finalized all the details with a couple emails, including my lodging. A coupe weeks prior to the trip I was contacted again to confirm everything, make sure I had any questions answered and to obtain my guides name and contact information.

On September 27th I left for 3 days of guided fishing in Montana. I stayed in the Murray Hotel in Livingston, which I found to be very nice. Brian had booked an excellent room for me. I was contacted by my guide, Tony Nahorny, the afternoon of my arrival and again confirmed my Monday morning meeting and fishing.

Montana flyfishingMy first day of fishing was terrific. I fished alone with Tony. We drifted the Yellowstone River north of the park. I explained my skill level and what I was unable to do. Tony and I began a 3 day adventure that I will always remember. We gelled like we had known each other all our lives. Tony was patient with me as he taught me how to catch trout bigger than I ever had before. He showed me everything and his goal was to make sure I had a good time and caught fish. We drifted and fished and also got out of the boat and fished the riffles. All day long I caught fish after fish and I was learning how to land the big trout on a big river. For a beginner like me this was a dream to be able to do this in my short few years of fly fishing.

The second day we fished a private ranch on the Mussleshell River. We had another great day of fishing. We also fished a large pond on the ranch and caught some huge fish.

We had no set place to fish the 3rd day. My guide pretty much was seeing how I was doing and what type of fishing I liked as we fished and talked on day 1 and day 2. So on the 3rd day Tony said he had someplace special to fish. When we arrived it was like he had read my mind. We fished another private access river in a deep canyon that we hiked down to. Again I caught a lot of fish and had wonderful day fishing.

Thanks paflyfish.com and what everyone does to contribute to help a new person like me to the sport and thanks to Montana Anglers for making my first trip to Montana a great experience.

Follow along in the forum for comments.
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Published by David Weaver [Fishidiot] on 06/12/2015 (2384 reads)
Casting Comp1


The Cumberland Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited will be hosting its Annual Mid Atlantic Fly Casting Championships on June 20th, 2015 at Allenberry Resort in Boiling Springs, PA. The competition will be conducted in conjunction with The Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum 13th Annual Heritage Day Celebration. The Heritage Day event is a full day of celebrating the fly fishing heritage in Pennsylvania with over 60 vendors and exhibitors, hands on demonstrations, special seminars, instruction, raffles, auctions and the always popular Fish Swim Race on the Yellow Breeches for a chance to win $500! More information on Heritage Day is available on the Museum website: www.paflyfishing.org.

Article by Dave Weaver
Photo courtesy tomitrout
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 01/22/2015 (1552 reads)
Fly Fishing ShowThis weekend brings the Fly Fishing Show to the Garden State Exhibit Center in Somerset, NJ. This is the best fly fishing show you can find and a great opportunity see what the latest and greatest is going on in the industry.

For those of you that have not made the trip before it is a three day event that includes a very large exhibit floor, fly tiers, retail shops, educational programs and more. Many members from Paflyfish make their way to the show every year. Here is a link to a video and recap of the show in 2014. If you are looking for trips, rods, reels, flies, waders any gear or tying materials this is the show to hit. There are many outstanding presentations about fly fishing techniques and locations to attend as well.

I enjoy going to the show to see a lot of good friends that end up there every year. Justin and team from Allen Fly Fishing can always be found at the show. Tom "afishinado" Ciannilli at the Orvis booth on Saturday. Guides and tiers from the site like Mike Heck, Dave Allbaugh, Rick Nyles & Nick Raftas are there at booths.

Details can be found on the Fly Fishing Show website.
Somerset dates: January 23-25, 2015
Show Hours
Friday: 10am – 6pm
Saturday: 8:30am – 5:30pm
Sunday: 9am – 4:30pm

If you can't make it this weekend there is the Fly Fishing Show in Lancaster on February 28 and March 1, 2015. A little smaller venue, but a good very good show as well.
Show Hours
Saturday: 9am – 5:30pm
Sunday: 9am – 4:30pm
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 12/08/2014 (2861 reads)
For those adventurous anglers with a penchant for photography our sponsors at Montana Angler are offering a unique opportunity to join photographer Patrick Clayton at their partner lodges in either Argentina or Chile in April for the upcoming 2015 South American fishing season. Patrick is better known as the “Fish Eye Guy” and his dramatic images of wild trout and salmon in their natural environment has captured the imagination of fly fisherman and conservation groups alike.

Fish Eye Guy


Patrick’s work has been featured by Patagonia, Field and Stream, The Drake, Orvis, The Flyfish Journal, and Catch Magazine, among many others. His work has also been used extensively by conservation groups across the country including national and local Trout Unlimited chapters, The Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation,American Rivers, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Trout Magazine, California Trout, Western Environmental Law Center, and Western Rivers Conservancy. His photography was also featured in the movie “The Breach“, an exploration of the decline of salmon in the Northwest.

Fish Eye Guy


Patrick will be basing out of two Orvis endorsed lodges in Patagonia during the month of April, the Carrileufu River Lodge in Argentina and Magic Waters Patagonia in Chile. He will be at Magic Waters in Chile the weeks of April 4th and 11th and at Carrileufu River Lodge the weeks of April 18th and 25th . Guests can join for as short as one week or as long as two weeks - combining both countries can also be arranged by Montana Angler.

Patagonia is famous for its aquarium clear rivers and will provide the perfect backdrop for Patrick’s work. Guests on the trip will have the opportunity to see how the Fish Eye Guy captures these magical images with remote underwater cameras. Patrick will also be photographing the general landscape as well as images of fishing in action. Guests that join will receive many of Patrick’s images including photos of their own fishing in action! Patrick will also offer tips and instruction for those that want to take their own photography to the next level.

Carrileufu River Lodge

The Carrileufu River Lodge is located on the boundary of the spectacular Los Alceras National Park in Argentina. The rivers in this area are some of the most beautiful in the world. Many of the rivers drain expansive lakes the filter out the sediments which produces incredible water clarity. The Rivadavia is considered by many to be the most beautiful trout river on the planet and is just 30 minutes from the lodge in the National Park. Guests will enjoy a variety of fly fishing experiences including float trips on legendary rivers, wading spring creeks and large lakes with massive trout. There is also an option to extend the trip with a wilderness 3 day float camping trip.

South American  fly fishing


Magic Waters Patagonia Lodge

If you are looking for the ultimate fishing variety in one of the world’s most beautiful but yet lightly fished regions then look no further than the Magic Waters Patagonia Lodge in Chile. The fishing out of Magic Waters is truly spectacular – plan on fishing a different water on each day of the trip – mostly with huge dry flies! The waters include large gin clear rivers, small spring creeks, wilderness streams and dramatic glacial lakes. This smaller lodge provides a wonderful gateway into the rich Patagonian culture of Southern Chile.

Please contact Brian McGeehan if you are interested in joining this unique experience with Patrick or if you have any questions about the trip. Montana Angler offers domestic fly fishing trips in Montana and Yellowstone National Park as well as international trips to Argentina, Chile and the Bahamas.

Patrick Clayton's work can also be viewed at his website and facebook pages:


South American  fly fishing
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 12/01/2014 (1793 reads)
By Salmonoid

For the past eight years or so, I've managed to make it out to fish on Thanksgiving Day. I guess it has become a bit of a tradition, made possible by our decision to no longer travel during the Thanksgiving holiday. Spending a few too many hours going nowhere between New Stanton and Breezewood on the Turnpike will eventually lead one to that conclusion.

This year, I was looking forward my outing, but the forecast was calling for snow the day before, so I started to temper my expectations as the week went along. Wednesday, the snow started falling around 9AM and continued to fall for the next eleven hours. While the ground is still relatively warm, we still ended up with four or more inches, but by evening, the outside sounds were filled with constant dripping. Overnight temps were supposed to dip below freezing too, and I did not have the luxury of waiting until afternoon to fish, since Thanksgiving meal was scheduled for 1PM.

So I told my wife that I would enjoy my day anyway, just thankful that I have the ability to be out walking around in the snow. Since I've never really had stellar outings on Thanksgiving Day, and since the conditions were far from ideal (snow melt, air temperatures below freezing, water levels low, and I added crystal-clear when I arrived Thursday morning), I really wasn't expecting much.





I only managed to fish the stream I was at one other time this year, in mid-January. It must have been a temporary thaw from our Arctic blast, or I was starting to go stir-crazy and needed to get out then. As I was walking in, I noticed quite a bit more blowdown of trees and I remembered the ice storm we had. I've seen the effects of the storm on a number of streams, but had yet to venture out on this particular stream to see how it fared. A number of new deep holes had formed where woody debris created new scour patterns and a number of rock ledge holes had filled in. Hopefully, the new holes will provide protection and cover for the fish for a few years, before the woody debris is blown out in a flood event.




Anyway, things got off to a slow start, as expected. I did not even see a fish for the first forty-five minutes. But then my fortunes changed. There's a spot where a large boulder sits in the middle of the stream. Usually the stream flows equally around each side of the boulder before tumbling into a nice plunge pool at its base. But some of the winter's blowdown had effectively dammed the right side, redirecting all the flow to the left. A plucky little brown darted out from the base of the left side flow and as I lifted him out of the water, he long distance released into the plunge pool below. At the head of the boulder, I landed the first official catch of the day.




The action continued fairly consistently all morning. Each potential hole had a trout or two in it, and it never pays to overlook the pocket water, riffles and unlikely looking water in between. Some of the larger fish came from areas that I wouldn't have selected, but they are the fish, not me.




There are lots of larger boulders, which provide nice holding areas for fish. A young family watched me toy with and finally hook and land a nice little brown from this hole. He lives under the large rock on the left side.






There are big spot fish in this stream and small spot fish in this stream. Here is one of the small spotters.




And a medium spotter.




And a large spotter. With a big tail.






A half-and-half spotter (red/black).




This guy will hopefully be able to take advantage of some of the new woody debris holes, for cover. He apparently had a bout with a heron recently.










Of course, by this time in the morning, I was only about half way through the section I wanted to fish. And I was down to about half an hour to fish, so I started pool hopping. I know I passed a lot of fish by, but the last few fish I caught were special.

A log had fallen across the stream at this spot a number of years ago. The flow had originally been to the right side, but had flipped to the left side sometime in the past year.





I cast first to the right side. There still was a tiny bit of flow through the pool and at least one brown had decided to make it his home. A small black mass charged out from after the log; I thought the fish would be under the rock in the pool.



I released him and he swam back to his abode. I flipped over to the pool on the left side of the stream, where the main flow was. I missed a smaller fish on the first cast, but prospected the pool a few more times. I never figured out where this fish was holding, but it doesn't get much more buttery than this!

Still had some faint parr marks.




And that was pretty much it. I think I caught one more, but I made the decision to try and honor Thanksgiving Dinner start time and managed to make it there just fashionably late, at 1:15PM.

Turned out to be my best Thanksgiving Day outing ever, despite snow (and melt), freezing temperatures, and low, clear conditions. It was a wonderful day to be out, although I was dodging snowballs part of the day, as it warmed and the trees released their coverings. One of the more interesting things I encountered was hearing voices on the hike in. In a few seconds, I came upon two Amish guys sitting underneath a big rock, taking swigs from a Thermos. We nodded polite hellos and I went on my way. I didn't catch anything bigger than 12", but I love the variety in spots, patterns, and coloration of these freestone wild browns.

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