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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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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fly fishing the Bitterroot - finally rain!

Tommy with his troutTommy caught this nice fish on a rainy day on the Bitterroot. It has been a very warm and dry fall. The rain is welcomed by us and the trout.Tommy's trout

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fly Fishing the Bitterroot with the Andrew and Diana

Andrew on the Bitterroot River
They drove up from Ketchum, Idaho to Triple Creek Ranch near Darby (they live in the mid-west). It is difficult to find a more beautiful drive. Their next adventure was to fish the Bitterroot River. You can't beat that!

Fly fishing and hunting is what Billy Burk loves

Billy Burk's trout
Billy Burk is a friend from Colorado. He is a busy guy with family, work and of course his outdoor recreation. He has been building a "trophy room" and I asked for photos. It isn't quite "decorated" yet, more photos and mounts to hang. Nice!

When he included these photos of trout he photographed in the Arkansas River, I had to blog them.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Casey, a man of four rivers and at least four pike

Casy and Aaron on the Flathead River
Casey Hackathorn is an Outfitter/Guide out of Missoulian Angler in Missoula, MT. He and Jack have this bond: a fascination for pike, actually BIG pike. So far Casey is the winner but then he has been at it longer. I see a long running competition developing. Fun!

Missoulian Angler Fly Shop
401 S Orange St ·
(406) 728-7766

We highly recommend the Missoulian Angler Fly Shop and Casey Hackathorn. Professional, great selection and service and the staff is exceptional. Visit them when you are in Missoula.

All photos were sent to us by Casey Hackathorn.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Northern Pike fishing adventure on the lower Bitterroot River with Jack Mauer

Northern Pike caught in the Bitterroot River by Jack Mauer

Jack Mauer fishes for a living, but what does he do on his day off? He gets up early and goes fishing for Northern Pike. His favorite spot is a section in the lower Bitterroot (exact location is undisclosed at this writing). For this short but productive float, he has permission to put in on private land and takes out at the next public access point. I get invited along for many reasons: photography, dog handler for our 6 month old Chesapeake puppy, and last but not least, rower of the boat when we get to pike territory.

Northern Pike, or pike, or northerns, are native to Montana but only in the Saskatchewan River drainage on the east side of Glacier Park. They have been illegally introduced in many areas and are now present in every drainage west of the Divide. A highly piscivorous animal, they feed on fish and also eat other vertebrates such as frogs. Northern pike threaten native game and non game fish in the area and popular sport fish like rainbow and brown trout.

With a long skinny head they have large teeth on the side of their mouth, and rows of many small teeth inside their mouth. They don’t chew their food, they just swallow it whole. Characteristics of the pike are: light markings on a darker green body, lower half of the cheek completely scaled; five or fewer pores on each side of the underside of the jaw; and rounded tail tips.

Pike especially like lakes and reservoirs, but on the Bitterroot River they are found in the warmer, slower water. Weeds are used for camouflage while hiding and waiting for food to float or swim by. They tend to live in water which is less than 15 feet deep, near a backwater area and close to shore. A submerged log in about 7 feet of water is another prime hang out spot for Pike. Because the Bitterroot is Jack’s home river, he has located the buckets of water where the pike are and can row directly to them.

When fishing for northerns, it might be a good idea to use a steel leader (a short piece of steel line). The pike's sharp teeth will cut easily through most fishing regular fishing line. Jack uses an 85 pound test hard monofilament tippet with a very bright streamer that has 2 hooks.

The idea of the streamer is to try to imitate the features of baitfish and minnows, which are what pike naturally feed upon. Since Pike seek their prey by sight, it is important for the streamer to move, so active artificial movement or live bait movement is very important. Anchor the boat above the holding water so you can cast to the bottom end of the bucket and retrieve your line through it and past the pike. Jack fished both deep (with a streamer that sinks and swims) and more on the surface (with a streamer/fly that didn’t sink as well). In both cases, he casts out about 60 feet or more, hopefully beyond the pikes position. Then he retrieves his line with a subtle jerking motion and some pauses in between twitches. The goal is to attract the attention of the pike and make it think his streamer is injured prey. Sometimes after hooking a pike, he saw other pike chasing it to the boat looking for their own meal.

After hooking and reeling in the pike, Jack uses a huge pair of needle nosed pliers to get his streamer and hook out of that nasty looking mouth.

Unlike fishing for trout, you want a bright day to fish for pike. If the water is smooth, meaning not much wind, and the sun is at an angle instead of right above you, you can see this distinctive fish in the water. This might be obvious, but sighting a pike makes it much easier to cast to.

Small northern pike remain in shallow weedy water through much of the year. In mid-summer, forage reaches peak abundance and the fish remain active. Large northern pike move deeper as summer progresses and water temperatures warm, seeking oxygenated water of 65 degrees or cooler. Large northern pike become lethargic in warm water, eating little and sometimes losing weight. For these reasons northern pike fishing falls off in warmer weather.

Jack has more time to fish for pike, and in addition on the lower Bitterroot River there is often the opportunity for good trico fishing. It makes for a great day with a wide variety of fishing styles, i.e. fishing a No. 18-20 trico dry fly on 6X tippet versus a larger, flashy streamer with 85 test monofilament tippet and a heavier rod.

Northern Pike are exceptionally good to eat, with firm, white flesh. The bigger fish are easier to bone and except for one troublesome Y-shaped bone, the Pike is relatively easy to filet. You can serve it many ways including grilled, fried, and baked using whatever seasonings and sauces you like. Jack isn’t much of a fish eater but he has a number of friends that like to eat the pike so he gives them away. That is a win/win for the trout in the river and his friends.

This aggressive and voracious fish attacks the lures or flies and puts up a great fight making the catching a thrill. Northern pike can grow to nearly 40 pounds in Montana and provide an outstanding sport and food fish in the appropriate waters. Pike are caught not only for sport but also to help get them out of inappropriate waters. Because of their voracious fish-eating habits they can literally eliminate their food supply in only a few years, leaving a population of terminally-stunted "hammerhandles." This is why widespread illegal pike introductions in western Montana have become a fishery manager's nightmare. So, go ahead, get out there, harvest a few pike and help Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks with removal of unwanted populations!

To see all the photos in a new window, click Jack's Trico/Pico fishing day.

Resources and links

Billings, Montana Pike Fishing Club called Pike Masters

Montana, Fish Wildlife and Parks Field Guide for Northern Pike and Northern Pike Education Page
I only found a few articles on strategies for pike fishing. Below is a link to an article from Game & Fish Magazine with useful information on pike and how to fish for them.
Northern Pike Strategies by Jim Barta from Michigan - If you are a northern pike fanatic, the author has a few weapons you should consider adding to your arsenal.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fly Fishing the LOWER Bitterroot for trout and pike with Bob and Ferguson

Bob with  a lower Bitterroot River trout
Jack met Bob and Ferguson at a public access and fished the very LOWER Bitterroot for trout and pike. This is near the confluence of the Clark Fork and Bitterroot Rivers and is great habitat for both species of fish. Here are 4 different views of one of Bob's nice cutthroat trout.

Jack brought one pike home to give to a friend who likes to eat them but they didn't get any photos of pike.

I like showing the river and it's features, but also to show close up views of the trout. Here is the slideshow of the 4 photos.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fly fishing the Bitterroot River with Mike and Marty

Marty and his Bitterroot Trout
Jack fished the Bitterroot River on September 10 with two great friends, Mike and Marty. Here is one of the trout Marty caught.

Kootenai Fire smoke in the Bitterroot Mountains
The second photo shows a view of the smoke from the Kootenai Fire. We are fortunate this year, not many fires meaning cleaner air.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

September 25, 2009 Bitterroot Chapter of Trout Unlimited Banquet

BRTU 2009 Banquet Ticket
To see the dinner menu, live auction items and silent
auction items visit

There will be door prizes, great food, see all your old and many new friends there!
Join us, buy your ticket and put it on your calendar.

Email for more info:
Marshall Bloom
Geoff FitzGerald
Stop in at the Fishaus Fly Fishing
Bill Bean
702 North First Street
Hamilton, MT 59840
(406) 363-6158 or toll free (888) 363-6158

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Fly Fishing Vacation, sort of...for John Corrigan

John Corrigan with a Montana trout. Photo courtesy of J. CorriganJohn Corrigan took a working/vacation trip to the northwest US in late August. He attended a conference in Portland, Oregon, and after taking care of business, rented a car and headed east. When he reached western Montana he met and fished with Wapiti Waters on the Bitterroot and Blackfoot Rivers.

Wanting to see even more country and catch more fish he drove north through the Seeley-Swan valley to Glacier National Park and the Going to the Sun Highway. The fishing part was when he hooked up with Tim Linehan in northwestern Montana.

It was his first trip to the northern Rockies and I think he did it justice. He said, “After leaving Missoula, Glacier National Park turned out to be the most beautiful place I have ever seen. ...and I had a productive day fishing with Tim Linehan.”

John writes for the Concord Monitor, New Hampshire - an online newspaper edition. Writing a Trout Unlimited chapter newsletter for many years helped get him the newspaper column. Having also served as chapter president and chair of the NH Trout Unlimited Council, John often works a conservation angle into his writing.

John Corrigan, left, Jack Mauer of Wapiti Waters, right. Victor, MT

See some of his writing at the Concord Monitor in NH

Below are snippets of his three most recent articles. Click the links to read more.
A hop, skip & jump
Sun Sep 13, 2009
Effective cutthroat and rainbow trout fishing in late August means a hop, skip and a jump. No analogy is perfect. Rainbow trout in Montana give much more of a jump than their cousins, but the tacti... more...

Finding inspiration in Montana
Sun Sep 6, 2009
A rental car motored through it. William Least Heat-Moon's book, Blue Highways, chronicled his travels along the back roads once marked on maps with blue lines. more...
Making connections out west
Sun Aug 30, 2009
Anticipation leads to the memories. Fishing comes in between. As you read this, my second western fishing trip of the season has become a memory. I was scheduled to arrive back home from Montana la... more...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fish rising on the Bitterroot River near Tucker Crossing

rising trout on the Bitterroot River
Here are some rise patterns. I was at Tucker Crossing hanging out when I saw the Osprey near a pool on the edge of the Bitterroot River. Some trout were working the edge near the foam. They weren't very big, but fun to watch.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fly Fishing the Clark Fork River near Superior, MT

Yesterday Jack fished with clients that wanted to do a stretch on the Clark Fork River near Superior. It fished, although not as well as they might have liked. Here are a few of the fish they caught. The lighting is a bit bright but you get the idea of the size and species from the photos. It was a bright day and a bit windy, too.

Clark Fork River Trout
Clark Fork River Trout

Clark Fork River Trout If you are a fan of the Clark Fork River and the cleanup project you will want to put this on your calendar.

The Lower Clark Fork River Cleanup will be held this Saturday, August 29. Meet at Cyr FAS at 9AM for float assignments. Free shuttle and food. Contact for details. Sponsors include: Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Clark Fork Coalition, Allied Waste, Bob Ward & Sons, Brady's Sportsman Surplus, Montana Eagle Scouts, NRS, Pipestone Mountaineering, REI, The Trailhead, and Strong Water.


This Sunday, August 30, join Friends of 2 Rivers at the former Milltown Dam site in Bonner for an afternoon of presentations, music, food, and activities for the whole family at the 5th annual Community at the Confluence event! Admission is FREE and the event will be held from noon until 4PM.. Visit for more info.

Visit the Clark Fork Coalition website for more events and information at

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fly Fishing the Bitterroot River with Terry and his Grandnephew, Ryan

If we were to have a favorite client, Terry Nobles would be it. He loves, loves, loves to fish and be on the river. We have known and fished with Terry for many years. Today he brought his Grandnephew, Ryan, along.
Below is a slideshow of more photos.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fly Fishing the Clark Fork River with Chris and Peter - Nick Stipech guiding

Clark Fork River Rainbow Trout

Chris and Peter fished with Wapiti Waters guide, Nick Stipech, and had a super day on the Clark Fork River.
Here is a note from Chris:
Hello Jack,
Thanks for setting us up with Fly Fishing Guide, Nick Stipech. He and I and my friend Peter had a great day on the Clark Fork a few days ago - a sample attached. Lots of fish and great company. Very memorable, and we put in a FULL day.

Peter and I did pretty good on our own on the Blackfoot, Bitterroot and Rock Creek, but the day on the boat on the Clark Fork was probably the highlight.

Chris Dakan

Chris and Peter on the Clark Fork River with Nick Stipich

The photo was sent to us by Chris. The first photo is the same, I just zoomed in to the fish so you could see it closer. ML

See the slideshow below for more photos that Peter sent us today.

I love the message Peter sent - about Nick!
Here are the best pics, from our trip with Nick, I think he knew each fish by name or at least knew their address, phone number, food preference and SSS number. He dialed us into so many fish!! It was a great day, I never expected to catch so many fish on a hot bright summer day.( well Chris did anyway). It was all fun, and being “over the hill”, it was nice to have a pair of fresh eyes to untangle Chris and I when we both cast at the same time. He was always positive, supportive and instructive. I ‘d go again as soon as I’m back to grab daughter from MU. –More reasons to visit!!

One pics shows Nick with the fish in mid air. It flopped and he caught it again for the backup pic.

Hoppers and droppers


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Obama almost hooks a trout!

Local fishing guide Dan Vermillion reacts as President Barack Obama almost hooks a trout
Local fishing guide Dan Vermillion reacts as President Barack Obama almost hooks a trout on the East Gallatin River near Belgrade, Mont., on Aug. 14, 2009.
(Official White House photo by Pete Souza)
See more photos on the The Official White House Photostream's photostream at Flickr.

I have seen photos of many President's but this is my first of one fly fishing! I like it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lodging in the Bitterroot - SweetSage Guest House

This place is absolutely wonderful. It is fresh, clean, beautiful, centrally located for fishing the Bitterroot River, yet in a country setting near Forest Service hiking trails in the Bitterroot Mountains. It is 35 miles from Missoula, less than 5 miles west of Victor (Victor is on Highway 93). Amy is fantastic to work with! Read on...
SweetSage Guest House in the Bitterroot Valley
Description by Amy Sage:
SweetSage Guest House, built in 1996, combines the elements of a historic Bitterroot ranch with a quiet, private setting, and all of the modern comforts of home.

The Guest House sits on an 80-acre homestead ranch just a few miles west of the town of Victor and Highway 93, and less than a mile from an infrequently traveled hiking trail in Sweathouse Creek Canyon. Sweathouse Creek was named for the Salish Indian sweat lodges that dotted its banks up until the late 1880s. The ranch is certified organic, and home to a variety of farm animals: horses, sheep, cashmere goats, chickens and cattle.

At SweetSage Guest House you will find a fully equipped kitchen, barbecue grill, nice laundry facility, satellite TV, and phone. The kitchen, dining and living rooms are all one open room with high ceilings and a large stone fireplace. From the deck, visitors can view the majestic peaks of the Bitterroot Mountain range and a variety of wildlife, including deer, elk, bear, coyotes, eagles, owls, hawks and numerous other birds.

The 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home can sleep up to six people comfortably. Two bedrooms have king size beds; the remaining bedroom has two twin beds, all complete with down comforters! There is also a queen size futon for one or two extra people. Central heating keeps the house warm and cozy in all seasons.

SweetSage Guest House - click for map is located on a historic Bitterroot ranch dating back to the 1880s. The barn outbuildings are still in use today and we invite you to tour our heritage. The spacious rooms and huge decks at SweetSage Guest House promise to provide the perfect backdrop for entertaining, wildlife viewing or just relaxing.

Click here to see the SweetSage Guest House listing on Vacation Rental by Owner in Victor

Ask Amy about her "Sweet Heart Special" of $975/week for up to two people
Phone: (406) 642-6400
Inquire/Contact the owner for more info

SweetSage Guest House Rates:
Peak Season: May 1 - Oct 31
Rate per night/$275, per week/$1450, per month/$2200
Minimum stay is 3 nights

Off Peak Season: Nov 1 - April 30
Rate per night/$250, per week/$1250, per month/$2200
Minimum stay is 3 nights

The SweetSage Guest House is Pet Friendly - Please Check!
This is a non-smoking property.