Tony’s Bachelor Float

by T&T on November 16, 2014

Noah Rosenthal, Los Angeles, CA

It was Tuesday September 2nd and I was in the middle of the last shooting day of the feature film Band of Robbers (a modern day telling of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn as adults) when the email came through:

SUBJECT: Tony’s Bachelor Float Sept. 27-29 2014

Girls,

Looking we might meet up either Friday night or Saturday morning and head to the Upper Madison. Floating/fishing/camping Saturday, Sunday, and get back to town on Monday early evening. We will camp at one of the campgrounds, probably Palisades. We figure it will be easier to car camp in the same place rather than boat camp in different spots each night but that can be up for discussion.

Depending on who can make it we need to work out purchasing and splitting cost of food and drink. Tony doesn’t pay.

Also, who will be bringing boats?

Don’t forget your extra…

Hank

On the tail end of this 24 day shoot, with more than enough complicated locations, sequences and camera work, this sounded like just what I needed, especially after missing out on summer hopper fishing in Wyoming due to work.

Being in the film business makes it exceedingly difficult to plan more than three weeks out, but this fell into place perfectly. I locked in a flight knowing that my girlfriend and I would be heading out to Montana for the wedding the following weekend. I figured I might as well get out there a week early and partake in some fishing and festivities.

The weeks leading up to the trip were a combination of confirming the group and dialing-in food, booze, and other concrete plans. I arrived in Bozeman to beautiful weather—70’s and sunny. Knowing that we were going to be camping, and having not brought out any gear with me, a trip to REI for camping supplies was a quick prerequisite before heading out to Ennis to meet Tony and the first wave of the fellas. Of course, I also needed to pick up a pretty serious combination of liquor and mixers to make a cocktail that would end up being signature of the trip: The Man of Leisure.

Tony is a long time friend who I know through one of my best friends from my guiding days, Hank. Both Tony and Hank have been working in the fly fishing and hospitality business for a very long time—from Wyoming to Montana to Alaska and beyond. Tony comes from a generations-deep Montana family and Hank was born in Montana, but raised in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming. The rest of the group was a mix of Tony’s friends: Chef Ranga Perera, who spearheaded the food situation with long time rafting guide turned realtor Mike Thiel, picking up more than enough to support our crew to eat splendidly for the weekend; Aaron and Ryan Harder, who grew up with Tony and drove in from Tacoma, WA; and Matt Connors a Montana local.

On this first sunny glorious afternoon I met Tony and Ranga at our campsite along the Madison River for a late afternoon float before the rest of the guys arrived. Aaron and Ryan were going to be there close to dusk and Hank was meeting us in the morning for the first big float higher up on the Madison. Despite our desire to get onto the water as quickly as possible, we set up our tents, readied camp and stowed the food and drink in the bear boxes.

It was a beautiful afternoon on the river, stripping streamers to see what kind of fish we could move and hoping to see some action along the banks for hoppers. We stopped to wade a few times, but as the shadows started getting longer, the temperature began to drop and we could hear thunder in the distance.Robbing the bank

All three of us landed fish, and had some exciting takes that didn’t end up with fish to the net. We got off the river in the last throes of a pink and purple sunset, just in time to arrive back at our campsite for some serious weather. Wind, rain, and hail made raising the kitchen tent a challenge. But we overcame the elements with a great fire, some shelter, and stiff cocktails to warm up. The Man of Leisure was the big hit. Part rye whiskey, part Reposado Tequila, Lime Juice, Aromatic Bitters and Ginger Beer, it is a formidable drink to chase out some of the cold and enjoy by a raging fire.

The next morning we got a little later a start than we had wanted to. The brothers’ tents had both taken on water during the rain storm that night, and we had to figure out how best to get all of the gear into one vehicle in order to meet Hank at the boat launch to put-in for the Bear Trap Canyon section. I’m glad that I ended up getting the upgrade on the rental vehicle to a full sized SUV because it took every inch of cargo space to get 5 guys and our gear from camp to the rafts. With the rendezvous complete the group split up into two rafts, we headed down the river toward lots of fishing and the “kitchen sink” rapids. To distinguish the bachelor’s boat from the other one, we were joined by a very adventurous inflatable sheep that took point on the bow of Tony’s raft for the rest of the weekend.

This section of the river flows through a breathtaking box canyon and is now one of my favorite floats that I have been on in Montana. Despite the weather and some slow fishing, everyone still managed to hook and land fish. Mostly, we threw streamers, with Tony landing the big fish of the day—a brown around 20” on the T&T HE 9’ 6wt. That fish took us on quite a run, and combined with my amateur rowing, it made for some excitement.jXKe08VAZiW_iO6b_sbZJ0l9AfenNUAmKlDbTDca_00

Later in the day he and Hank successfully navigated the rapids while the rest of us hiked up, around and down, thankful that we weren’t captaining. Some celebratory beers and Pendleton whiskey were had with lunch, knowing that no more rapids lay ahead—only more fishing and a big fire at the end of the day.

That night we got another round of weather that may have drowned out some groups, but only emboldened our revelry. The pulled pork dinner was epic, as was the bonfire and musical performance from Tony and Ryan that accompanied some howling at the moon.kbuchiKGmCpBgjPbit72kcOh7kPBxCaBzeKsRkTv5-I

The weekend continued with a mix of challenging weather and tough fishing. Our journey now included three boats, allowing us to float to our campsite for the last night and enjoy an easy time breaking camp and shoving off for our final day of fishing. That planning made for the most enjoyable morning, since the weather broke, too—at least long enough to have some sun, breakfast quesadillas, burritos, and screwdrivers. Nice to not have to start the day with a drive to get on the water.

With very little wind and some sun I mostly fished the LPSII 8’6” 5wt, which most reminded me of the rod that made me first fall in love with T&T—the VE 8’6” 4wt—a real combination of touch and power making it an absolute delight to cast. We started off throwing hoppers at the banks, pleased with any takes on top that we could get, before switching back to streamers and 6wts as the weather changed. Our last day of fishing ended with a rainbow arching over the Madison—and weather moving through the valley in a spectacular show—reminding us of how lucky we were to be out on the water together, celebrating the last days of Tony’s bachelorhood.UAkREKftDmqPfdT3BlBqeS5uWCSFOP6gOoN-R_96UN0

The son of a filmmaker, Noah Rosenthal is a cinematographer living in Los Angeles, via Middlebury College and DIII football, via guiding trout rivers of Wyoming and traveling the country with his camera, via an MFA in Cinematography from the American Film Institute. He also tells a pretty good story. See his work at arkfilms.net

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A Week on My River, the Ribble

by T&T on November 4, 2014

By Martin James, MBE

Monday:  Already been a busy week on my river, the Ribble, with several hours spent pulling balsam until it got the better of my back. Spent an hour or so cleaning and polishing my fly lines then attached new leaders on my 4, 5 and 7 weight outfits, as the river was a bit high and dirty for fly fishing. Had an hour clearing away rubbish left by the high water over the weekend when we had 6.5 feet on the gauge.

Tuesday: I had to visit the doctor, then on to the river pulling balsam for about 2 hours then gave up. Decided conditions were suitable to fish a nymph upstream which turned out to be a good choice. Fishing a gold ribbed hare’s ear I had a really good session fishing a five-weight Thomas & Thomas rod with floating line and a 12 foot leader. In all I had nine trout, pricking 5 others. At teatime one of my pupils, Susan, turned up for a casting lesson which went well, she also caught her first brown trout. It was one very happy lady who returned home for her supper. No doubt she will be telling her husband that he should take up fly fishing and leave golf alone.

Wednesday: Started off the day around 10 o’clock in the morning after sleeping in, it’s great being an OAP who can do what you like. It was about 11 o’clock when I got to the river. Conditions were very good with a few fish rising, and after checking my mink traps I decided today was my day, I was going fishing. Collecting two Thomas & Thomas rods from the rack, one for fishing a nymph the other for dry fly work, I headed off across the meadow. Under the far bank, overhung by a large alder tree where the branches offered cover and security to the trout, a good fish was sucking down tiny black flies tight to the far bank. It would be a difficult cast but I had to try and hope I wouldn’t get hung up on the overhead branches. Having watched the fish for twenty or more minutes I got into position, and pulling off some line I made a roll cast and then back cast before shooting line with a parallel cast close to the surface of the water. What a lucky cast it was, dropping six inches from the far bank and three feet above the rising fish, a slight upstream mend had the fly drifting downstream, and seeing a small dimple on the surface I set the hook into a good fish. After a bit of give and take I netted a fine brown trout of about 1.5 lbs. During the course of the next three hours I must have had a dozen fish, all on dry flies. Sitting outside the cabin enjoying a salad lunch in the sunshine, I looked back on my mornings fishing thinking how relaxing and enjoyable it had been.

Thursday:  It was the perfect day for fly fishing: light wind with an overcast sky, but feeling very warm with lots of flies. It’s a day we anglers dream about and I had the river to myself. Walking up to the top beat I spotted a good fish boil in Robert’s Pool. My first thought was sea trout, and with conditions overcast there was a good chance the fish might take a fly. Back at the cabin I put together a Thomas & Thomas 7 weight outfit, floating line and 10 foot leader with a 9lb tippet, then had to make a choice on what fly to use. I looked in the fly box at a Dunkeld…or should I use a teal Blue and Silver, or perhaps a large size Bloody Butcher? In the bottom of the box I had a selection of Snake flies which have proved successful over the past few years. After pondering for a few minutes I chose a small Snake fly. Back on the river I sat and watched the area where I had seen the fish boil, in about thirty minutes all I had seen were a few rising trout. Walking further upstream I waded out into midstream then started working the fly under the far bank bushes and trees in the hope of getting a sea trout to take. I reckon these fish are the most difficult of all our game fish, and after an hour I walked back to the cabin for a fresh brew and a rethink. Thirty minutes later I’m back on the river casting and retrieving, working slowly down the pool and after about twenty minutes I felt a solid take and set the hook into a powerful fish. The reel was singing as the fish went off down the pool and twenty yards or more of line disappeared. “This isn’t a sea trout” I thought, the reason being that sea trout don’t go off on long fast runs, and more often they will show themselves. I pictured a salmon and so settled down for a long fight on a 7 weight rod. Thankfully I was able to exert enough pressure to stop the fish going out of the pool and down the rapids which would probably have meant a lost fish. After a lot of give and take I started to gain much needed line back on the reel, then I got my first look at the fish. “That’s a good salmon” I said to myself, five minutes later I was able to beach a fine silver fish estimated between 12 and 14 lbs. Taking out the hook without touching the fish I watched it swim off strongly then punched the air shouting “Yes!” Back at the cabin I made a fresh brew then sat down looking back at the session and thinking it doesn’t get any better than this.

Friday: On the river pulling balsam for a couple of hours, I spent another hour raking grass from the river. If you don’t take it out it slowly builds up into small islands, it’s a real pain. I have also started building some sanctuaries for the small fish to escape from the goosanders but its hard work moving rocks etc. In some areas there is a lot of crowfoot growing nicely which will add more cover for the small fish, and I have created a breakwater for when the river is pushing through to give the fry more security. As I worked I spotted a shoal of good chub just below the rapids. Eight in number, between 4 lbs and the best might go 6 lbs, it was a pleasure to see these fish. Back in the cabin I grabbed a handful of sausage sizzle squabs then walked back across the meadow to where I had seen the chub, they were still alongside the swaying water crowfoot. I chucked in three squabs, two reached the bottom the other one was intercepted. I reckon that of the ten squabs I threw in the water, six were taken – good news for the new season. I then had an hour’s fishing a dry fly with six takes, but missed them all and so returned to the cabin fishless. Another week on my river, the Ribble, over.

Martin shows off a nice Ribble chub.

Martin James, MBE is an acclaimed author and host of the BBC radio show At the Water’s Edge.  He writes to us from his Lancashire, England home near the banks of his beloved river Ribble.

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The Light

September 26, 2014

This year marked the 10th Annual Matt Light Celebrity Shootout at Addieville East Farm in Mapleville, Rhode Island, and with a record turnout and bluebird weather, Tuesday’s event was a success from the start. A fund raiser for the Light Foundation and their work with at-risk youth, the day saw participants and celebrities – including […]

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