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Jack C. Mauer has more than a thirty year investment in fishing, floating and wading the waters of western Montana. He is intimately acquainted with the surrounding fisheries and their corresponding ecologies. It is his passion and enthusiasm for the art of fly fishing, a respect and knowledge of trout habitat, and the ability to expertly instruct the technical aspects of fly fishing that clients appreciate as they return to western Montana and Wapiti Waters. Contact Jack at 800-254-5311.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bitterroot Snowpack and Avalanche Advisory Site

I revisited a great site today. We have had new snow, now it is warming up. I wondered what information I could find about our Bitterroot snowpack. As I have said before, for fly fishing, snowpack is a huge indicator of what to expect in our upcoming season. We also want to recreate and be safe. See below and click on the hotlinks for more information.

Happy Holidays! This is Steve Karkanen at the West Central Montana Avalanche Center with the avalanche advisory for December 29th, 2008.

Please read the above link if you plan on skiing in western Montana. Danger is HIGH.

Remember the adage, be careful what you ask for? Well, we're getting what we've been asking for. The problem is that it's coming in a way that our current basal snowpack layers cannot support....

....The good news is that the new snow has been coming in gradually with a slow warm up. The weak layer near the rain crust is gaining strength over time and is adjusting quite well to each storm that slowly adds weight to it. The bad news is the cold temperatures we've experienced the past 2 weeks has allowed the weak granular sugary snow around the crust to persist so when we receive a storm that drops a lot of weight (several inches of snow or any amount of rain) it won't be able to adjust fast enough to be safe. The really bad news is that the forecast is calling for a warm up with significant snowfall and wind perhaps even rain at some mountain locations this weekend.

To learn more, visit for classes and films showing in the Missoula area. BE SAFE!!!

Jack and I have been cross country skiing almost every day. Here is a slideshow from yesterday.

If you are going out for a back country ski, tell people where you are going and when you expect to be back. Visit this link for Weather Forecast and Avalanche Outlook in the Missoula and Bitterroot area.

Friday, December 26, 2008

FOREVER BLUEGRASS (Pinegrass) by Joe Nickell for the Missoulian

Pinegrass, a Bluegrass Band - by Joe Nickell for the Missoulian
Forever Bluegrass By JOE NICKELL - Like the seasons that govern the growth of all good things in nature, bluegrass music is forever dying away and resprouting anew. In the 1950s, the energetic sounds of Appalachia were spreading far and wide in American culture, until rock ’n’ roll appeared and diverted everyone’s the rest of his story.

The story of Pinegrass actually dates back to the late ’70s, when bluegrass bands such as Poor Monroe, the Great Northern Bluegrass Band (of which Ryan was a member), and Finley Creek frequented stages around western Montana. Over time, the members of those groups became the core of an increasingly tight-knit community of pickers and fans, who began gathering every Wednesday at a local instrument store called String Instrument Division or at the house of one of the musicians to play together in impromptu picking circles.
“Anybody could show up, and everybody got to play,” recalls Ryan fondly.

Like clockwork Pinegrass performs every Tuesday night at the Top Hat Lounge - click for map, located at 134 W. Front St. in Missoula. Through the end of this month, the band begins its performances at 10:30 p.m.; beginning on the first Tuesday of January, the band will begin its performances at 9 p.m. Admission is free.

Top Hat phone - (406) 728-9865

Thursday, December 25, 2008

My kind of Christmas Tree

Now this is a Christmas Tree!

Merry Christmas to all!

May everyone be as happy as Bela when she is rolling in new fallen snow.

Happy, Happy Bela Dog
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Trout and Ice

Click the photo for a larger view in a new window.
Ice on Sweathouse Creek just above a culvert
This is my attempt to provide a little more information about trout behavior (Part I); and ice development and anchor ice (Part II). In my research, I found only few studies, and I am pleased to reference for Part I a study that was done here in the Bitterroot.

I ran this article by Chris Clancy, our local Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks fisheries biologist and one of the authors of the Bitterroot study. His input:
I think the take home message is that some sort of overhead cover and a variety of habitats are helpful to trout in the winter. Streams that are simplified by overgrazing or channelization lose the diversity of habitats. Deep pools are particularly important. I expect the winter movement is not really something they want to do but more likely they have to as the location they are in has changed or somehow become inadequate for their needs, so they find another. Generally in a healthy stream, the mortality during winter is much higher than summer.

Part I - Trout

Trout obviously prefer to expend as little energy as possible in the winter. In the study referenced in this section, bull trout and cutthroat trout made extensive downstream overwintering movements with declining temperature in the fall, yet for the remainder of the study (until late February), most fish remained stationary. Some fish made additional downstream movements in winter during a low-temperature period marked by anchor ice formation. Winter movement was more extensive in the mid elevation stream where frequent freezing and thawing led to variable surface ice cover and frequent supercooling. Habitat use of both species varied with availability; beaver ponds and pools with large woody debris were preferred in one stream, and pools with boulders were preferred in the other. Trout overwintered in beaver ponds in large, mixed aggregations. Both species decreased use of submerged cover following the formation of surface ice.

Their results indicate that (1) continued activity by trout during winter is common in streams with dynamic ice conditions and (2) complex mixes of habitat are needed to provide suitable fall and winter habitat for these species.

My note: It is my understanding the "complex mixes of habitat" produce more static ice conditions and are most often streams with natural vegetation and "undisturbed" i.e. not altered by man (mostly construction) or overgrazing. Open streams, where there is little or no cover and vegetation, produce more dynamic ice conditions. Other studies suggest that even though trout may be in streams with dynamic ice conditions, their preference is for more static or stable conditions - where thermal cover might help keep the surface ice from freezing and thawing.

References for Part I
THE ROLE OF STREAM ICE ON FALL AND WINTER MOVEMENTS AND HABITAT USE BY BULL TROUT AND CUTTHROAT TROUT IN MONTANA HEADWATER STREAMS, Jacober, M. J., McMahon, T. E., Thurow, R. F., Clancy, C. G., Abstract, Page 1 Click here for their paper published by the American Fisheries Society 1998

Part II - Ice

Traditionally, habitat variables have been related to stream flow distribution, structure, cover, temperature, and water quality. Winter and ice formation will influence these variables.

As winter approaches and temperatures lower, the water cools. As it reaches the freezing point, border ice begins to form along the river margins and around obstacles and skim or surface ice forms in low flow velocity areas.

In low gradient areas static ice formation occurs and surface ice is established. Due to increased resistance by the ice, water depth increases and velocities are reduced. In low gradient rivers and river reaches static ice formation occurs enabling stable conditions. Surface ice decreases the amount of light and creates cover against predation and severe hydraulic conditions allowing fish in these areas to preserve energy more efficiently.

Ice production in small, steep rivers is dominated by dynamic ice formation with potential melting and freezing throughout the entire winter. In high gradient sections, such as rapids and riffles, dynamic ice formation dominates. Dynamic ice formation starts when water temperature drops below zero degrees. Here, the water temperature becomes super cooled and tiny ice crystals form, known as frazil ice, or floating ice plates (ice that forms as small plates drifting in rapidly flowing water where it is too turbulent for pack ice to form). In locations with sufficient turbulence, frazil ice is transported towards the riverbed where it adheres and forms anchor ice. Normally, anchor ice formation develops during night and pauses during day.

Anchor ice formation can be extensive and may cover large areas. It may be distinguished between two types according to its formation process: Type I: less dense and forming on top of the substrata and Type II: Dense and forming between the substrata, filling all the small openings and spaces. During the events of anchor ice formation, flow conditions may be substantially altered. Type II anchor ice will potentially exclude important fish habitat. Fish may experience entrapment or be forced to relocate into other suitable areas, preferably surface ice covered stream margins.

In small, steep rivers, extensive growth of anchor ice may occur and lead to the formation of anchor ice dams. These anchor ice dams are normally developed in transition zones between riffle and pool sections and in locations with emergent, large boulders, and can slow further surface ice growth. High mortality of trout has been observed during the formation and breakup of anchor ice dams due to stranding, ice collapse, and physical abrasion from suspended ice particles.

References for Part II
ANCHOR ICE FORMATION AND HABITAT CHOICE OF ATLANTIC SALMON (SALMO SALAR L.)PARR IN STEEP STREAMS, Stickler, M. (M.Sc.), submitted to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology - Click here for the online paper
ICE IN THE ENVIRONMENT, Stickler, M., click here for the online paper

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Little Snow a Few Days Ago - and Snowing Today

Hackett's Barn
Not only do we love a good snow pack in the mountains for next year's fishing, we enjoy recreating in it. These photos are from a hike on December 20. We are offSpruce Cones for our first cross country ski this afternoon. It has been snowing for 24 hours and now that our office work is done for the day, we are heading out for that much anticipated ski!

Skiing was great! Temp was about 12 degrees C. and no wind. See the slideshow below.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

How to Shit in the Woods by Kathleen Meyer

How to Shit in the Woods graphic

How to Shit in the Woods:
An Environmentally Sound
Approach to a Lost Art

“This is the most important environ-
mental book of the decade [1989].”
—W. David Laird, Books of the Southwest

“Kathleen Meyer has contributed to environmental awareness while lending a grand old English word the respectability that it hasn't had since Chaucer's day.”
—Frank Graham, Jr., Audubon magazine

“Hey, this is the real shit.”
—Galen Rowell, outdoor photographer and writer

“It's something we all feel qualified to do, yet never talk about . . . For once, we get good tips on how to keep campsites clean while maintaining modesty and comfort.”
—Outside magazine

Visit for more about the author and her books.

Kathleen Meyer and Patrick McCarron live in Victor, Montana. Kathleen is an author and has an editing business. Visit her site to find out more. If you need an editor, you will want to consider Kathleen.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Calf-A at Dell, Montana

Dec 2008 Ted Lowe at the Dell Calf-A
On I-15 between Salt Lake City, Utah and Butte, Montana there is a small town. Take the Lima exit and go to Dell, Montana. You will see a unique cafe, the Calf-A, in an old, brick schoolhouse with the menu on the blackboard. I hear from the locals that the population of Dell "depends on the time of day."

Michael McCoy talks about the Calf-A in his travel guide, Montana - Off the Beaten Path - A Guide to Unique Places. He says,"The old building it is housed in was a school from 1903 until 1963, with an average enrollment of twenty kids, and then opened as a restaurant in 1978. Its walls, shelves, and bare pine floor are blanketed with memorabilia, fur-bearing trout, piles of old Life magazines, vintage rifles, an old piano with yellowed sheet music, rocks and fossils, a bedpan banjo, well-worn school desks, pull-down maps, spurs, kerosene lanterns, a ceramic water cooler, and a whole lot more."
The photo is of Ted Lowe in front of the Calf-A. Jack and Ted were in the area for five days in mid-December hunting elk during the extended season. The wind was howling and the temperature hovered at 27 degrees below zero. They hunted, but had no success. The conditions were brutal for humans. The saw lots of elk, but just couldn't get to them without freezing, sometimes they couldn't even get the old Dodge started! When they did, they came home.
The Calf-A is also called Yesterday's Cafe or Yesterday's Calf-A. Click here
for the Travel Montana website and more information.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Deep Freeze in the Bitterroot

Sweathouse Creek in December

Bear Creek is on the west side of the Bitteroot Valley near Victor. This week temperatures were about zero during the day and minus 16 during the night. We have plenty of water from the previous rains and now it is turning to ice. It is beautiful, but where are all the fish to go?
another view of Sweathouse Creek in December

Click here to read a paper titled Role of Stream Ice on Fall and Winter Movements and Habitat Use by Bull Trout and Cutthroat Trout in Montana Headwater Streams.

An excerpt from the Conclusion: Complex mixes of habitat are needed to maintain suitable fall and winter habitat for stream resident bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout populations. Beaver ponds, deep pools, and submerged cover of large woody debris (LWD), boulders, and undercut banks are important components of this mix. Bull trout appear particularly susceptible to loss of habitat complexity. In the Bitterroot River drainage, bull trout are rare in watersheds with a high degree of disturbance (Clancy 1993) and without LWD or pools (Rich 1996). Shallow, wide streams not only lack suitable winter cover, but also promote subsurface ice formation (Chisholm et al. 1987; Brown et al. 1994). In degraded areas, activities that moderate fluctuations in winter stream temperature (i.e., riparian vegetation restoration) and that create deep water habitats (i.e., beaver reintroduction) may help alleviate poor winter habitat conditions.
It is a scientific paper, a dry read, but if you are interested in trout habitat, you will find it very informative, yet there is still much to learn about ice and trout survival.

debris taken from Sweathouse Creek

After I created this post, I remembered a photo I had taken on Sweathouse Creek in November. This is from the property that butts against Forest Service near the trailhead for Sweathouse Creek.

There is a county bridge (actually culverts topped with road gravel) across Sweathouse right here. These people just bought the chunk of land that is on both sides of the creek. They can access all of their land by the county bridge, but they wanted their own bridge. They got permission to build it. In the process, they are reaming out an area of the creek where they will are building a winding road and footings and a bridge.

You are seeing some of the woody debris and plant material that they have removed. I find it horrific that they did this. After reading the paper above, I am more disturbed about it. Just my opinion.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Jeffrey's monsters

Jeff Rogers
Jeff Rogers lives in Victor, Montana and fishes with us regularly.

Note from Billy:

Hey Merle!
I told my great buddy Jeff Rogers I would send these to you. They are shots of him at a secret spot in Canada this past Sept. fishing for steelhead with his dad. Looks like I have probably been "bested" by him, for life, in the flyrod category. Please tell Jack "hi" and Merry Christmas to you and yours! ………Billy Burk

Jeff Rogers at his secret fishing place

Billy, thanks for sending these photos in.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Early December 2008 in Montana

To see all my "Elk Blogs" click on the "elk" hotlink in the "Labels" area at the footer of this blog entry or on the Label section on the right sidebar.
Trout from the Bitterroot river this fall It is December in Montana. Deer and elk hunting season is closed except for a few districts that have been extended, the closest for us being south near Dillon, MT. Click here for a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks link.

The strange thing is how warm it has been. We have had moisture, but in the form of rain except for some snow at high elevations.

Instead of cross country skiing, Jack and I are still hiking for fitness and recreation. I am uploading a few photos/slideshows of game we are seeing on our hikes.

We see elk mostly on the way to our hike. They have lost security in the mountains (new roads, new construction, much hunting pressure) and oddly seek security in the open, private pastures and ranches. Good for viewing, not so good for hunting. I imagine they eat a lot of grass and hay the ranchers probably need... There are about 9 spike bulls in this group. This means they have no brow tines and are young, not mature bulls.

Mature bulls stay away from cows and calves most of the year. During calving season, the cows are scattered widely in small groups. I see them on my hikes in the mountain drainages above these ranches. That is when thermal cover and security from the forest (not the open fields) is important to these elk. Once the spotted calves are able to walk, the females will then assemble into larger groups. It is common to see 30, even close to 100 elk in herds near here from July until calving season. Elk are shy and very suspicious of human beings unless accustomed to them since birth as in the case of this herd. They are still suspicous and wiley, but know they are relatively safe near ranches.

Click here for a great Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation article.

For larger views, click on "View Album."
Click here for information about Downey Woodpeckers.

Celebrate Christmas by supporting Trout Unlimited and Montana

Here is a great idea for Christmas!
Bitterroot River at Lost Horse Bend by Monte Dolack
World renown artist, Monte Dolack, painted this as a limited edition for the Bitter Root Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Hamilton, Montana.
  • Prints #2-5 $500

  • Prints #43-225 $175

  • 100% of the proceeds for Prints 1-225 and the Publisher Proofs go directlyto BRTU Education and Habitat Projects.

    View Print and learn about the artist at Monte Dolack's website

    You can purchase a print at Monte's site or by contacting BRTU President, Geoff Fitzgerald at More BRTU contact information is available on the BRTU blog.

More questions? Contact us at or 800-254-5311.
This is a great cause and a great connection to the Bitterroot and Montana. BRTU does amazing work with youngsters and landowners in education and rehab of our rivers and streams.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Billy Burk from Pueblo West, CO

Billy Burk with his Cutbow Billy Burk comes up to fish with his friend and our neighbor, Jeff Rogers. We hope he comes back soon. He is a ton of fun, always a happy face. Here is a note from Billy about this photo.

Hey Merle and jack! Just a note to wish you well. Hope you are happy and content this holiday season. Sorry I didn't make it up there this year, next year I will make a concerted effort to show up and fish circles around Jeff!
Attached is a photo of a nice Cutbow I landed Saturday on the Arkansas River, close to my home. Tight lines!..

Billy just sent me another one! I love it that it includes his son, Ryan!
Billy, son Ryan, Visla dogs Shy and Yoshi
note from Billy: Hey Merle, I will include one more photo with this e-mail, then I had better leave room for someone else! This is a pic. of my son Ryan, and I, at the end of a successful pheasant and quail hunt in Kansas. Our Vizsla's, Shy and Yoshi, love it as much as we do! Those deep sea fishing photos were from my trip with the Rogers' to Mexico in August. Thanks for a great website and blogger!!!! .Billy

Monday, December 1, 2008

Cresent Moon, Jupiter and Venus align tonight - a Montana view

graphic of Moon, Jupiter and Venus

Monday Night: Planets Align in a Frown
By Clara Moskowitz

The graphic is from the above web article. It is an excellent article, short and easy to read. Click on the title/link and it will open in a new window.

I am also adding a slide show of my photos in a few different exposures. Yes, we saw it in the southwest sky about 6:00 pm and it was not visible by 7:30 pm - the planets set down behind our Bitterroot Range.

To best view the slide show, click "view album", then "slideshow." You might need to pause the picture to be sure it loads all the way.

Dr. J. Paul Ferguson in New Zealand

Well, Dr. Paul. Finally, here is a post about you! You were nice enough to send us an amazing photo from your trip to New Zealand a few years ago. Now, I am compelled to share that photo. Click on the photo for a larger view. Paul Ferguson in New Zealand Why don't we have photos of you in Montana? Well, we will have to talk about that.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Canadian Coal vs Bull Trout

bull trout graphic

Click here for the Western Native Bull Trout website showing a bull trout location map and an assessment document.

Once again, our friend and New Heathens band member, Nate Schweber in New York (but from Missoula) has impressed me with his social blogging.

An excerpt of Nate's blog: A Canadian mining company wants to dig up coal at the headwaters of the North Fork of the Flathead River, which forms the western boundary of Glacier National Park. I go fishing there every summer. Boooo! Read on for his "double boo" and "triple boo." Please visit his blog about Canadian Coal vs Bull Trout.

Click here for a Missoulian newspaper story,
Canada: Mine planned atop habitat for bull trout By MICHAEL JAMISON of the Missoulian.
Nate found the story and has the link on his website (thank you Nate).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving from Wapiti Waters

Gobble Gobble
Posted by Picasa, photo by Merle Loman

In honor of our wild goose friend, Swisher

Swisher the goose in May
In early May, Jack was floating the Big Hole river with clients when he noticed this lone gosling had been following his boat for miles. At the end of the day he thought of it's fate if he didn't rescue it. He scooped it up in his net and brought it home. We put it under a light until it could survive being in the coop with out it. It stayed with us in our yard until mid August. One day I came home from work and he was gone. I have to believe he flew away with other geese as he should. Maybe one day Swisher will come back to our ponds with a mate and nest.

Here is a slide show of Swisher from May through mid-August. I hope you enjoy it.

If you click "View Album", then "Slide Show" it will show in full screen mode. If the photos don't quite focus, slow down the speed to 5 or 6 seconds per photo.
Note: I don't know if Swisher was male or female. I just found myself calling Swisher "he."
Canada Goose - Montana Field Guide

Monday, November 24, 2008

2008 Hunting season, warm weather makes for nice walking but difficult stalking

Elk herd on private land Above is a photo of an elk herd (actually only part of the herd) that hangs on private land during hunting season. They are so much fun to watch as they move from field to field just on the edge of timber and Forest Service land.

We are still hunting for my whitetail doe and/or buck and of course for the elusive elk. It is fun, but we would love for it snow so their behavior was a bit more predictable and we could see tracks. It is our privilege to hunt in these beautiful mountains and be able to experience the wonderful sights and sounds as the sun rises and the day begins.

Here is a slide show of a few of our hunting photos. We did an eastern Montana antelope hunt in October. Jack went back in November and bagged a 4x4 whitetail buck. He didn't get any photos on that trip. It was rainy and mucky.

If you click "View Album", then "View Slide Show" and slow the photos down to 5 or 6 seconds - it should show in full screen mode.

Friday, November 21, 2008

DRIFT, the acclaimed fly fishing film! Showing in Missoula Nov 25th

Montana TU Logo Presents

The highly anticipated Missoula screening of

the acclaimed fly fishing film, DRIFT

Tuesday, November 25th at 8:00 PM
131 S Higgins Ave
Missoula, MT 59802
(406) 543-3432 Get directions
Ticktets: $7

Beer, Wine & refreshments available. All proceeds help
Montana TU conserve, protect & restore coldwater fisheries throughout the

Tickets available at the door, or call Montana TU to purchase in
advance: 543-0054.

To see a trailer and learn more about Drift go to:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Stream Access Law - Mitchell Slough ruled open to recreation - Bitterroot River

By Perry Backus - Ravalli Republic

In a case with statewide implications, the Montana Supreme Court decided Monday
the Mitchell Slough is open to recreation under the state’s stream access law.

....The court did offer a caveat on the issue of public access.

The slough runs through private property and the public only has the right to recreate under the terms of the state streamside access law, which allows access on the water and up the ordinary high-water mark on the slough’s bank, the court said.

Read the full story AND readers' comments here:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nov 20 Bitter Root TU Meeting to feature Future of Montana Rivers and Fish

Click on photo for larger imageFishing the Bitterroot River - photo by Merle Loman.
The next general meeting of Bitter Root Trout Unlimited will be at 7:00 PM November 20, 2008. The program will be presented by Montana TU Executive Director Bruce Farling.
At the meeting, TU’s indefatigable state leader will give an overview of issues impacting rivers across the state. With a crashing economy and a new administration in the White House, Bruce will talk about what is likely to change and what might stay the same – or get worse. He will give an update on various projects and programs that TU is doing across the state, and also give a preview of some issues that might surface during the upcoming Montana legislature. Everyone seems to be saying that we are in a time of change, but experience tells us that change is not inevitably progress.

The meeting will begin at 7:00 PM at the Hamilton Elks Lodge, 203 State Street. The meeting is open to the public and there is no charge for admission.For additional information, contact Bitterroot TU president Geoff Fitzgerald ( or Doug Nation (363-2137,

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Reminder for Anglers from Montana Fish and Wildlife

Friday, November 14, 2008 Fishing Link to

General fishing season on most of Montana’s smaller rivers and streams in the western and central fishing districts closes Nov. 30.

In the eastern fishing district, the season on rivers and streams extends year round. Fishing is also open year round on all of the state’s lakes and reservoirs.

Emergency regulations are sometimes in effect to protect a fishery, for example when low water flows combined with winter freezing present a threat. Signs are posted on waters with emergency fishing regulations in effect.

To check in advance for emergency regulations call 406-444-2449, or go to the FWP Web site at under Fishing, click on Regulations and then on Emergency Fishing Closures.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Susquehanna River with Jim Wellendorf and Dick Lentine (Pennsylvania)

Yesterday, Jim Wellendorf sent us this message and photos. I am including the photos in a slide show. Jim, no photo of you? You must be holding the camera. Jim and Dick, thanks for sharing!

My friend, Dick Lentine, took me bass fishing this morning on the Susquehanna River. Sun rise was beautiful! Hope you enjoy it. The weather was nice to begin with but got very nasty. High winds and waves just when we were about to stop. If you ever have to land a bass boat in high winds don't call me. Dick did a great job in very tough conditions.

The fishing was not so good, probably because of the front that was approaching. Dick caught 2 bass and I caught one. All about 12 inches long. In spite of the bass and the weather we had a good time.
The last picture is a duck hunting blind on the western side of the River.

Another link to a PA-DCNR website for the Susquehanna River.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New Heathens in New York

A bit of a side...we met Nate online and are emailing about fishing, Montana, family, and his band in New York. Check out the latest New Heathen Blog.

As for Jack and I, we are getting ready for our annual antelope hunt near Zortman in eastern Montana.
Here is Nate's comment about that. Wish we had a photo of Junction Pool.

Good luck hunting (man, I don't even know where Zortman, MT is!). I had to work in upstate New York today and when I finished I had about an hour and a half of daylight to fish the famous Junction Pool in Roscoe, NY. The trout were rising to MIDGES, and I hooked only one, when it rose to a knot on my tippet.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Nate Schweber - our friend from New York - or Missoula

Nate Schweber on Soda Creek in Yellowstone Park
Above is a photo of Nate. Nate is originally from Missoula, Montana and is now in New York City in a band called New Heathens.

About the New Heathens! They have a great sound, you can check it out on their website Some of the reviews call them American Roots Rock or Rootsy Rock and Roll. I think their sound is more complex than that! Tell us what you think...
The New Heathens from New York!Members: Nate Schweber, Singer, Guitar, Harmonica; Butch Phelps, Guitar; Dominic Tiziano, Guitar; Eric Seftel, Drums; Brandy Wood, Bass
Genre: Rock n Roll Hometown: New York City

You can see by this slide show that Nate still spends time in Montana and fishing. We have quite a bit in common, including a love of music!

A Note from Nate: Thanks for digging the band. I'm working on trying to come up with the songs and, more importantly, money to finish a second record. We're working with a producer named Eric "Roscoe" Ambel who played with Steve Earle and produced a bunch of cool bands that I dig including the Bottle Rockets and the Yayhoos. Making records is almost as expensive a hobby as flyfishing.

I tried my luck on Connecticut's Housatonic River this past weekend. Beautiful fall colors. I hooked one brown trout on a nymph but lost him. Fish were rising all around but I couldn't get them to take anything I was offering. I tried big nymphs, little nymphs, big dries, little dries, streamers and everything in between. Nothin'. To be honest, it reminded me of a few times I've fished the Bitterroot when the same thing has happened: fish rising everywhere, but not to any of my flies.

Well, Nate, we know what you mean. The fishing in western Montana this fall is amazing. The days are calm and beautiful; the water is like glass. That means the fishing is technical and even though the fish are rising, it takes a lot of effort to find out which of our flies and what size they will be interested in. At least you have targets to throw to. When you do hook up, though, the rewards are fantastic!

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Bitterroot - Hot Fishing, Warm colors, Fishing was great ALL DAY

Click on photo to see larger version in a new window.
Trico are thick in the air! That isn't blur from the camera, they are lots of little bugsTrico Spinner Fall (hatch)As our new friend, Nate, says, "Hot Damn!" The fishing was amazing today. I met Jack on the Bitterroot about noon. IT FISHED ALL DAY!
Jack Mauer on the Bitterroot
When we got on the river, the trico spinner fall lasted about 3 hours. It seemed every cutthroat and rainbow in the river were up. You had targets to cast to, too many. Using a fly with flatter wings and 5x tippet, it was difficult to see/follow your fly. We had some challenging places to put the fly so it would float drag free. We shot for fish hanging right on the seam -- you needed to put the fly right in their mouth, as Jack said, "force feed them." They didn't know what fly to eat, but if they took yours, you had better lift the rod carefully, keep the tip high, and let them run for a while. Wow, it was fun. Needless to say, my finesse was lacking and I learned some lessons in line management and tension while I broke some nice fish off.

Late afternoon they seemed to switch to Blue Winged Olives and we could get away with a slightly bigger upright winged fly. You still needed to cast a long distance. When you raise the rod smoothly on a take, be ready to let them run. We were still on a small, 6x tippet. It was great practice for me as I learned to bring in the bigger fish.

When I post the slide show (later today), you will see amazing fall colors and reflections along with a deer crossing the river and a grebe (duck) diving.

For now, I will post a photo trying to show the trico spinner fall and a couple of fish.Merle on the BitterrootLower Bitterroot River with Wapiti Waters
Not a bad day. Start with office work at home, meet on the river at noon, get out by 6:00. Jack attends a Fish, Wildlife, and Parks RRAFT board meeting while I do some chores with my daughters in Missoula. Get home and run through the football game we taped. Life is good.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bitterroot River and Doc Bolton

Again, one of our favorite fisherman, Doc Bolton, floated with Jack. The day really turned on in the afternoon much to the liking of Doctor John. Here is one of his fish and it shows how beautiful the day was.
Liz and John are driving back to California in a few days. We wish them a safe trip home.

This trip is an example of tailoring a trip to the client. Doc wanted an afternoon/evening float as a single. Jack picked a "sneaky" stretch of river and they avoided flotillas. The result was a flexible, relaxing day and great fishing. There are still a lot of fall days to fish. Give us a call if you want to get in on the fun. 800-254-5311

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bitterroot River with Jeff Rogers

Jeff Rogers with a nice trout on the Bitterroot River It is all about photos. What else can you say on a day like this!

Jeff and Jack floated the Bitterroot on another beautiful fall day. Above is a photo of Jeff.

Aerial gymnastics

Friday, September 26, 2008

Bitterroot River with Jim & Naomi Shields

Naomi Shields with a cutthroat trout

Jim and Naomi came over from Washington and fished a couple of days with Jack.

They are so much fun, Jack really enjoyed seeing them.

I am posting a photo of Naomi and a slideshow of all the photos including Jim with his rainbow and Jack with his pike. All of these photos were taken by Jim or Naomi Shields.

Pike from the Bitterroot River

Jack with his pike. He gave them to a camper on the bank - I don't know his name
I am a little behind on the posts. I will try to catch up. Here is a photo of a couple of Pike Jack took out of the Bitterroot River.
We are going fishing today, so I will post more this evening and tomorrow. Jack has been fishing with clients all week and there are some nice photos I will be posting.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bitterroot River - Doc Bolton and Terry Nobles

Doc Bolton with a cuttbow on the Bitterroot RiverYesterday Jack came home all excited about the Bitterroot again. The water temperatures are dropping (between 50-52 degrees), the cool nights, fall days and waning moon seem to help - the fishing is really turning on in the afternoons.

He was fortunate to have two of his favorite people to fish with. Doc Bolton lives in California but has come to Montana for years and now has a small homestead near the Bitterroot River. Terry Nobles is long standing Bitterroot resident and Marine veteran, the best of the best in our opinion. Both gentlemen are avid trout fishermen and Trout Unlimited supporters. You will see us all at the Bitter Root TU Banquet this Friday, September 26.Terry Nobles on the Clark Fork with Jack Mauer guiding

Doc Bolton also wrote a story called Bitterroot Morning about Doc and Terry fishing with Jack.
Click the hotlink, Bitterroot Morning, to check it out and see a couple more

Above is a photo of Doc with his fish of the day. We didn't get a photo of Terry yesterday, but to the right is one from my files. He fishes all year but we seem to get most of the photos of him and his fish in the fall like this one.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Annual Banquet for BRTU, September 26, 2008

This is an invitation to attend the 29th annual Bitterroot Trout Unlimited Banquet. The banquet will start at 5:00 PM on Friday, September 26 at the Bitterroot River Inn in Hamilton. Tickets are $45.00 per person – same as last year-, and can be reserved or purchased now at Fishaus Tackle. Click the hotlinks (names) for addresses and/or maps.
Angler wading on the West Fork of the Bitterroot River
Click this link to see the BRTU blog with a list of auction items - Bitterroot Trout Unlimited Banquet.

There will be a gourmet dinner prepared from local ingredients and catered by Riversong Catering. Silver Coin is in charge of the beverage table and we will again be featuring premium microbrews from Bitter Root Brewing! We will have special awards, drawings, door prizes, live and silent auctions. Premiums will include gourmet dinners, fine wines, elegant jewelry, fishing trips on the fabled Middle Fork of the Flathead, the Kootenai, the Madison, Big Hole and Bitterroot River, tackle, and artwork by local artists and craftspersons.

Here are a couple sneak previews! Tom Morgan of Tom Morgan Rodsmiths, also know as the “Rodfather”, is donating one of his exclusive new fiberglass rod blanks. We have also secured a stay in a flyfishing lodge in New Zealand. Other special items include #2 of the Monte Dolack print that our chapter commissioned last year, and a special outing to Lake Como with dinner for 8 at the Hikers Lodge.

Why should you come? Besides having a great time, swapping fishing stories, meeting people and visiting with your friends, here are just a couple of other reasons. We continue to work hard on the conservation and education side of things. Chapter representatives are deeply engaged in youth education, water quality monitoring, stream setback efforts, native trout restoration, habitat restoration, and a host of other issues designed to make sure that the quality of our streams and fisheries will be in good shape for future generations.

This banquet is our only fundraiser, and we are strictly a volunteer organization. Importantly, all of the money we raise stays in Montana, most of it here in the Bitterroot. Your support is what makes it happen! So, please plan on attending now.
The doors open at 5:00 PM, so there will be plenty of time to visit with friends, buy raffle tickets, view the items and bid on the silent auction. Dinner will be at 6:30 PM and will be followed by the live and silent auctions, door prize and other drawings.

Tickets are on sale at Fishaus Tackle (363-6158, The $45 ticket price is a real bargain. VISA and MasterCard are accepted. Please remember that the last five years’ banquets were totally sold out at least a week before the event and seating will be limited, so reserve your tickets early. And of course, you don’t have to be a TU member to share in the fun.

If you would like to participate in our Sponsor Program, please contact Marshall
Bloom (363-3485, or Bill Bean (363-6158,

For more information, to make a donation, or help out, contact Marshall Bloom (363-3485,, Bill Bean (363-6158, or Doug Nation (363-3127).
By September 26, summer will be over and everyone will be ready to have some fun. So, come help us celebrate. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Bluegrass Band, Pinegrass - One of Jack's other hats

View 2007 Bitterroot Bluegrass Festival Album
Jack Mauer and his dobro at the 2007 Bitterroot Bluegrass Festival in Hamilton, MTToday Jack is performing at a wedding in Belgrade, MT with his band, Pinegrass. It is a welcome break in the fly fishing guiding season when he can play music in this kind of venue. Here is a slide show from a wedding in Missoula, MT in September of last year.

View Wedding in Missoula Album

Friday, September 19, 2008

Middle Bitterroot River with John Hickman

John Hickman with a Bitterroot Brown TroutYesterday, Jack fished the Blackfoot again. Well, I cleaned my desk in the afternoon and found the camera card. No photos on that beautiful day with Jerry and Debra O'Connell.

The day before, he and John Hickman floated the Bitterroot River on the stretch from Bell Crossing to Stevensville. The sun was bright and the trout are very well educated because it is a popular piece of water - easy access and not too long a float. During a trico hatch they caught some beautiful fish. Here is a photo of John Hickman with a brown trout.

Today is a day of rest for Jack. Now that this is posted, we are off for a fitness hike to the south of Sweathouse Canyon. Maybe I will take some photos there!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Missoula Performance of the Smuin Ballet - A Benefit for McLaughlin Research Institute

When: Tuesday 09/29 and 9/30/2008 at 7:30

Who: Smuin Ballet

What: Art : Dance - Ballet

Where: University of Montana


Debuting in March 1994, Smuin Ballet has quickly established itself as “one of this country’s most entertaining, original ballet troupes,” (Dance Magazine). Indeed, few names in dance are as widely known and recognized as that of Michael Smuin: at the heart of the company is Mr. Smuin’s singular ability to create pieces which merge the diverse vocabularies of classical ballet and contemporary dance forms.
Monday 09/29: Dancin' with Gershwin and other selections. In the Montana Theatre across from the Adams Center. The Monday Gala ticket includes the reception.

Tuesday 09/30: Dancin' with Gershwin and other selections. In the Montana Theatre across from the Adams Center.

Age Group: All Ages
To purchase tickets:
  • call the Adams Center Box Office at 1.406.243.4051
  • call 1.888.MONTANA
  • visit

Where is the University Theatre?
The University Theatre is located on the Missoula campus of the The University of Montana. Driving directions, maps, parking, and much more can be found here. Also, the following PDF map includes the highlighted location of the University Theatre on campus.

We are very fortunate to have this company perform in Missoula and even more fortunate that Michael Smuin was born in Missoula and continued to cherish his home town. Sadly, he passed away last year. Come see the ballet and know that Missoula and Montana creates the people who can change our world as we know it.

You will also be supporting an important world changing institution, the McLaughlin Research Institute with another Montana native as Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee, Dr. Irving L. Weissman. Irv is orignally from Great Falls, MT and is now at Stanford University.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lower Bitterroot with Jack. Full moon, Northern Pike, trout, birds, and scenery

Today Jack is on the Blackfoot. Fishing can become a chore when you do it every day, all day, but the Blackfoot with its faster flows, boulders, and intricate runs still gets Jack excited. More on the Blackfoot in a day or two after his trips with clients.

About this blog, the lower Bitterroot. In contrast with the Blackfoot, it is a big wide section of river, but slower and in many places much shallower. That makes for flat water, more rowing and during a full moon, very picky trout!
Jack's trout from the lower Bitterroot near Missoula, MT Lower Bitterroot River looking at Missoula
From 2008 09.14 lower Bitterroot River
Jack had yesterday off and in a generous gesture, he took me on a float fairly close to home. One of the reasons he wanted to do this stretch was to research the northern pike that thrive there. Northern Pike in the lower Bitterroot RiverPike are a predatory fish and a highly prized game fish. They are not native to the Bitterroot and prey on all other species of invertebrates. That being said, they can get very big and very fun to catch and we are interested in catching them. Let me tell you, we found them, but didn't do so well in the catching of them. We have much to learn in that area, but are willing. When we catch them, we will not be putting them back. Click this northern pike hotlink to see why.
I took quite a few photos in between catching a few finicky trout. Hold your cursor over the arrow and click to speed it up. See the slide show or "view album" to see all the photos. To see the rising trout and details on other photos, it is best to view the slide show in full screen in a speed that will load the photos, but move along fairly quickly - a speed of at somewhere around 4 seconds per photo.

If the links don't open when you click them, right click and choose "open in new window."