Friday, January 19, 2018

Stillwater Angler Fishing Report

Back to the water ways!

We’re back! I’m very happy to return again this year and be able to write a bit about the local fly fishing scene and other outdoor happenings, along with an occasional opinion or editorial comment thrown in from time to time. I appreciate the opportunity to share these columns with the Stillwater County News readers.
So where are we at this year? As a statement of the obvious, it’s been a mild last half of winter and first month of spring. Area rivers have been open and fishing for quite some time. The snow pack in the mountains is fair. Barring a warm, dry month of May, we should have sufficient stream flows this season.
I’ve spent much of the past month or so involved with various fly fishing classes along with a few guided trips sprinkled in. I’ve even managed to sneak in a day or two of my own fishing with Montana friends.
Most of the folks I’ve been working with are either new to the sport of fly fishing, or have been clients with minimal experience. It is always exciting to see and share the enthusiasm with a new angler as he or she makes that transition into the almost magical world of fly fishing.
For my money, fly fishing is all about enjoying the total, all encompassing, experience of fly fishing, and that’s what keeps me coming back. Now I’ll admit that I’m partial to trout fishing in the Rocky Mountain west, and obviously particularly in Montana.
What can beat standing in a crystal clear mountain stream or floating a cottonwood lined river under clear, blue skies fishing for wild trout? That’s one of the aspects of the sport that never gets old and I think it unfortunate that there are those among us who fail to appreciate it. Instead, they’re all about how big and how many. In my opinion they’re missing the boat-pun intended!
While not exclusive to fly fishing, it does provide an opportunity to enjoy a wholesome form of outdoor recreation where fathers and sons, husbands and wives, or just good friends can enjoy doing something together.
Fly fishing has also become a preferred form of therapy for cancer survivors, injured veterans and other groups and individuals. Why is that? My theory is that it’s because of all of the intangibles that it offers. There’s a certain relaxation that the sport provides that helps both to unclutter the mind and refresh the spirit, and in some cases heal. Did you know that the fastest growing demographic of new fly anglers are women? In fact, one in three fly anglers these days are women.
So, for those just starting out in the sport, I hope you give consideration to some of the points I have shared in this article and will continue to enjoy fly fishing and share your passion with others for what I hope are all of the right reasons.
As for a brief assessment of the fishing situation, fishing on the area rivers has literally been up and down. Recent warm spells spiked flows and dirtied up the water, and cooler weather dropped things back down and cleared them up.
The last week or so has started to see the emergence of the March Brown mayfly, which is something that is eagerly awaited by most anglers. The Caddis aren’t too far away either, and hopefully will come off before runoff is here to stay.
As “freestones,” our area rivers and streams are subject to fluctuations of nature, but in my mind that also makes for a greater angling challenge and experience. So, get out this year and enjoy what they have to offer. Tight lines!
Chris Fleck owns and operates Stillwater Anglers Fly Shop and Outfitters in Columbus. He can be contacted at 322-4977 or via www.stillwateranglers.com