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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, April 28, 2009

It snowed today.

Click on the photo for a larger view in a new window - it is worth it.
Elk herd
Glacier Lily

We woke up to snow today. We were hoping for cooler weather to keep the snow in the mountains but this is a bit much. Like Jack said, "It isn't going to flood in April this year." The cool weather this spring will help the snow melt in an orderly fashion, if it warms up enough to actually melt!

Today we took a hike when it was the warmest, about 47 degrees. At the beginning of our hike, we saw a herd of elk. What a nice start. Then we hiked into a bit of a snow flurry. Our Chesapeake puppy, Freda

Monday, April 27, 2009

Billy Burk is coming to Montana in June

Billy Burks trput
Billy Burks elk

I am a bit behind on blogging some photos sent in by friends. Here are two photos from Billy Burk of Pueblo, CO. He is coming up to fish with his (and our) friend, Jeff, in June. They are thinking they will fish on the Big Hole.
Billy's message:
Attached are photos of a recent catch, close to home, on the Arkansas River, and Walter the Wapiti; finally mounted on the wall in our living room. He was harvested from Jeff's Dad's ranch in western Colorado last October. Take care and God Bless..............Billy Burk

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Osprey that caught the fish

I am experimenting with a new photo site and wanted to embed a slideshow from SmugMug. I haven't figured it out yet so I will post a photo of the Osprey that caught the fish (I am not sure if it was a trout or whitefish or what) and give you a link to the slideshows. I hope you like them!

Click here for 2 Osprey slideshows
One caught fish, the other did not even after a few tries.

The fish in my earlier blog DID NOT catch the fish. This photo is of a different Osprey we saw about 15 minutes later and down river. It was a really fun bird sighting day not to mention great fishing.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bugs on the Bitterroot - Skwala and Mayfly photos

I forgot to mention in the earlier blog that we were Ameletus mayfly dun on the Bitterroot Riverfishing with Jack's dry imitations of skwala and mayflies. These photos show why. We saw them on the water. The first is a photo of an Ameletus mayfly dun. It is beautiful in it's grey color and upright profile.

The second photo is, of course, a female skwala stonefly on my wader pant leg. She stayed with us in the boat for most of the trip.

Below is a fish Jack caught while wade fishing during a mayfly hatch. I can't tell you what fly he was using, it is too obvious.

When you fish the hatch, you will have to match the size.
female skwala on the Bitterroot River

Jack Mauer with a Bitterroot River Trout Jack also caught the brown trout in an earlier post during this hatch. AND with my camera around my neck, I caught one of the biggest fish, another brown trout, right at the end of the hatch. Now that I am learning to set my hook better, it is getting a lot more fun!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Alan Pilkington - a message and photos about Alan and Martha's trip to Argentina

Merle and Jack,
Martha and I back from BA and trying to catch up after two weeks away. Our hunt for red stag in the Pampas was very interesting. Very different ground to Patagonia. The country is open savannah with gentle rolling wooded hills mixed in. About 400 miles SW of BA. Very like southern Africa or northern Australia savannah country, quite dry, good cattle country.
Argentina countryside
All hunting was for free ranging animals, no fences. Stags were in full 'roar' which is always a remarkable natural event, just like the experience of witnessing our elk bugling. Shot a nice stag as well as a cull and a small (young) wild boar, all with the little 6.5mm, Jack, which did the job in each case with one shot and with as much aplomb as any .300 magnum. The 6.5mm is a fine hunting rifle, my favorite caliber for deer sized stuff at present.
Alan Pilkington
The estancia barbecued the little boar in a typical Argentinian asada, it was amazing, the best meal of the whole trip, with natural vegetables from the estancia's garden. Homestead was an old Spanish style from the late 19thc, early 20thc, very authentic feeling.

Barbecued Boar

Then BA for a few days including a night at a traditional (versus a Las Vegas type) tango, and another at a wonderful Flamenco theatre with a Flamenco guitarist you would have loved, Jack. Martha finished her wedding shopping (shoes and a shawl to match her wedding dress). You have to love the Argentinians and their priorities: barbecued red meat, red wine from Mendoza and dulce de leche (on everything) and chocolates (after everything)!

Couple of pics from the estancia are attached. I couldn't post this on your blog, you are welcome to use any or all of it if you wish.
All the best to you both,
Alan Pilkington

Alan Pilkington is a wonderful writer. See his website at to check out his books and learn more about him. To see all the posts we have done about Alan, click here: Alan Pilkington posts by Wapiti Waters.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fly Fishing on the Rise - of the Bitterroot River

Merle with a big brown troutJack and I float fished the Bitterroot a few days ago. We caught fish, but it was a bit "off." The water was slightly turbid and it seemed to be rising. Well, it was! It went up nearly 300 cubic feet per second (CFS) that day to become 2000 CFS in the middle-river. Today it looks like it will reach 4000 CFS. It is warm and they are expecting rain.
Jack Mauer caught this robust trout
We caught fish, mostly in the afternoon during a mayfly hatch and the birds were extremely active. I ended up taking about 500 photos of fish we caught, scenery of course, our puppy, flowers, Hooded Mergansers, Osprey, geese, mayfies and more. Consequently, I am really busy editing them and haven't done a post recently. Today I will post a few teaser photos. I will do more and a slideshow as soon as I can.

Osprey dove for a fish and is coming back out of the river

Check back soon to see if this osprey comes up with a fish!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pinegrass - A Bluegrass Band, Stevensville Montana Festival

Pinegrass playing on stage in SteviThe Montana Rockies Bluegrass Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and performing bluegrass music.

The association, which was formed in 1999, offers a slate of events throughout the year to promote bluegrass music. This includes sponsoring performances by local and nationally recognized bluegrass bands, campouts of bluegrass pickers and fans, and workshops where enthusiasts can develop their music skills.

The 2009 spring festival, which is in its 10th year, gives bluegrass fans an opportunity to hear outstanding performances across spectrum of bluegrass music. Started by a few “bluegrassers” from the Missoula and Bitterroot Valley, the association now has over 250 members.

Bands performing this year:Acousticals, Bill Anderson & Jeff Trask, Black Mountain Boys, Bonnie Bliss & Stan Hall, BVDs, Gravel Road, Ken Benson & Friends, Larry Gangi, Sr., Mike & Tari Conroy, Pinegrass, Ramblin’ Rose, Salmon Valley String Band, Spring Thaw, Three Rivers Bluegrass, Will Williams, Wise River Mercantile. To read more about this event and the late-night jam and campover, visit our website at

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bitterroot River with Joe Graziano

Bitterroot River trout caught by Joe Graziano
Joe Graziano fished this beautiful day with Jack on the Bitterroot River. With the very cool nights, the river is coming up, but fairly orderly and there are fish to be caught.

The forecast for next week is for 70 degree days and nights above freezing. Those ingredients make for a rising river and possible run-off conditions.

Check back to see what happens and if the fishing turns on or off. For Bitterroot weather (ten day forecast) and local USGS streamflow data click

Joe Graziano on the Bitterroot River with a trout

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Blast and Cast from the Past and Future

Jeff Levert with a trout from the Bitterroot RiverLast week I got a call from an old guide friend, Jeff Levert.
He wanted to fish with me. It is always good to get on the water with incredible casters, professional oarsmen and genuinely good people. For a decade, mid-80s to 90s, Jeff and I were part of a team of about 6 other guides at the Complete Fly fisher on the Big Hole River. We all shared the resource, the clients, the expertise, and the fun. This was a really good time in our lives.

Jeff has since gotten out of guiding and works in the oil fields of Wyoming. He and his wife, Lisa, and their two beautiful young daughters live in Butte.

As you can see by these photos in the slideshow below, his passion for angling has not diminished.

Jeff came to fish today with his close friend, Patrick Botzet, now from Missoula, but raised on the Front Range near Cutbank, MT. Patrick and Jeff were extraordinary river companions and I learned a lot about the energy development in Wyoming. See Patrick's website at Teton Exploration.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Trip Down The Bitterroot River - by Photographs

Roy Loman flyfishing a riffle on the Bitterroot River My brother, Roy, came from Whitefish to fish and float the upper Bitterroot on Sunday and were surprised that we saw only two other boats. The first of the boats was another guide but the second was Rob who had come down from the Kalispell area to fish with George. It was great to see them and introduce the northern boys (Whitefish and Kalispell are in northwest Montana) to one another, albeit while wearing fishing gear including hats and dark glasses and floating by on a fairly fast river. It is kind of like meeting someone while skiing. You might never recognize them in street clothes.

The river was up enough to be pretty fast and a little bit cloudy, especially where the tributaries flowed in. We did see skwala, but not very many. We worked hard at trying different patterns and even some nymph fishing. The morning fishing was slow, but we had better success in the afternoon.

The slideshow below will take you down the river by photographs. By the time we got to the take-out, I was busy keeping the puppy close so I stopped taking photos just above it. I did capture an old car rip-rap bank, various birds, pretty cliffs, stone outcroppings, vistas, and of course some trout.

Click View Album to view in a new, larger window.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Skwalas on the Bitterroot - photos

female skwala stonefly on the Bitterroot River in April
In early March, you can start looking for Skwala stoneflies. They are similar to salmonflies in appearance and habitat, though they are smaller.

The Skwalas are related to the little yellow stoneflies though they do not belong to the same biological family.

For more information about the Skwala hatch, give us a call.

Here are some photos of skwala we saw on the Bitterroot River a few days ago. See the slideshow below.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fly Fishing the Bitterroot - It is still cool, but we are seeing skwala

Bitterroot River Trout

I am editing some skwala photos, but wanted to post a few photos from our fishing on Sunday. It was surprisingly good. More photos, including skwala, will be in the next post.

Geese on the Bitterroot River

To throw in some drama, I will post a photo of geese flying over and an osprey on that same stretch of the Bitterroot River.

Osprey on the Bitterroot River

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Doc Bolton Fly Fishing the Bitterroot with Jack

Bitterroot River Brown TroutDoc Bolton is up from California again. He has a small house on the Bitterroot now and comes up at least a couple of times a year. He is fishing about four days with Jack and today, Terry Nobles is in the boat. I will pick them up at the take out. I can't wait to get some more photos of Terry. Click Terry Nobles for more blog entries about him.

Here is a slideshow of Doc's fishing. You will see different days, different sections of the Bitterroot River.
View Album, click here to view in a new, larger window.
Then choose "Slideshow" to get a full screen view.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bitterroot River is fishing - warming up, coming up

John Hickman with a nice trout on the Bitterroot RiverWell, we are having spring weather!

Two days ago it was freezing, now our lows are 36 degrees and our high for today is forecasted at 68 degrees. Currently, in the late morning it is about 50 degrees.

Warm weather will bring the bugs but it will bring down the snowpack, too. The upper river has come up close to 200 cubic feet per second (CFS) in the last two days. If we can have cool nights as forecasted, we will have an orderly, slower rise in CFS and better chances of great fishing.

Nice photo of John. Yes, he is always this happy!

Click to see links to weather in the Bitterroot, USGS water data sites, and snowpack information.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Philosophy of Spring Fly Fishing on the Bitterroot River

Nice trout making a run with my dry fly - Bitterroot River No doubt the snowpack that has been laid down since the first day of spring will be welcome in late July. Right now, however, it’s definitely caused a few cancellations as some of our anglers think it’s too cold to fish. It is hard to argue with that. For sure these are some of the coldest water temperatures we have ever guided on! Yet, there has been good fishing without a lot of bugs yet.

No, we have not resorted to the use of indicators and nymphs…PLEASE! Spring angling is about finding a few fish “looking up.” It is about getting the rust out of your cast; reminding yourself that sometimes you need to mend downstream, not only upstream, in order to get the extended drift; and it is about making a slow, firm hook-set when a fish does happen to inhale your dry fly. You had better have just enough line slack to drift your bug just right but not too much line slack reducing your control and reaction time. Early spring fishing is about the joy of casting a single, buoyant big stonefly dry or mayfly pattern and observing the sights and sounds around you, the life that is teeming on the river and banks. So for me, it is not about hooking a bunch of whitefish or watching a bobber all day long… this is my philosophy. Blue raft fishing a hole on the Bitterroot River - far right

Yes, there are those that want to fish with droppers off of large dries or indicators in nymph rigs. Many anglers coming from a tail-water expect their guides to produce lots of fish and have lots of action. So be it. I do respect their right to lose as many flies as possible on all the woody debris that is found on the Bitterroot River. With that said, yesterday was the first bright sunny day in three weeks after clouds and snow, and it fished tough. We found big fish tight to some cover and a few out in the open lanes. It turned into a good day despite the conditions.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Terry Nobles and Kent Myers - Fly Fishing the Bitterroot River

Jack Mauer and Terry Nobles on the Bitterroot River
I can't say enough about how much fun it is too fish with Terry Nobles and Kent Myers. Both are great to be with and love the Bitterroot River. This photo of Terry shows the very young but mature male trout he coaxed out from under a log. It took patience and technique as he teased the trout with his dry fly and expertly set the hook.

Kent showed his fly fishing prowess as he caught fish after fish. We used small bugs and small tippet AND big bugs and big tippet. It all seemed to work.

See the slideshow below for more photos.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Fly Fishing the Bitterroot April 2, 2009 - Cool but good fishing

April Fly Fishing on the Bitterroot River collage
Jack has been guiding a lot recently, but the clients for today decided it was too cold for them. It was a cool morning but about noon we decided we would do a short float together and scout a middle stretch of the river for water level, woody debris and shifting gravel/sand bars. There weren't many bugs yet the trout came up to our dry flies. It turned out to be a productive and beautiful day, though we did encounter some squalls with rain and wind. I forgot a warm hat so by the time we took-out, around 5:15, I was ready to get warm in the truck.

Check out the slideshow below for more river photos including some birds and fish.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Clark Fork & Blackfoot Rivers near Missoula, MT - River Closures Remain Around Milltown

Clark Fork River Contact: Vivaca Crowser, Information Officer
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
(406) 542-5518,,


River Closures Remain Around Milltown

Small sections of the Clark Fork and Blackfoot rivers near the site of the old Milltown Dam remain closed to fishing, boating and other recreation.

Although the dam has been removed, construction work continues and river conditions are unstable. Riverbed levels are expected to drop this spring as the Clark Fork and Blackfoot Rivers work to reclaim a natural channel, exposing wood and other debris that could create hazards to recreationists.

The Clark Fork River is closed from about one-half mile below the old Milltown Dam site (at the railroad bridge) to three miles upstream from the bridge. Turah Fishing Access Site (FAS) is the last public take-out for floaters upstream from the closure area, and Sha-Ron FAS, is the first public access below the closed zone. Sha-Ron may be unusable this spring because of sediment deposition at the ramp. This sediment is expected to erode during high flows.

On the Blackfoot, the closure covers a stretch of about 1.5 miles upstream from the river's confluence with the Clark Fork. Floaters must take out at Weigh Station FAS. All closed areas are signed.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) expects the public safety closures will remain in effect for at least one more year. FWP will continue to monitor river conditions and construction activities and will lift closures as soon as conditions stabilize.

For additional information on the closed areas, contact the Missoula FWP office at (406) 542-5500. -fwp-