Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Skinny on LOG

Dan Kelly and I went up to the Land of the Giants yesterday. I usually go up there a few times a year because it's nice to get off the Lower Mo and you do catch big fish and lots of them. I've talked about LOG in the past and have some pretty impressive grip and grins from up there. It used to be a well kept secret for the locals and a couple outfitters but it has definitely changed. I know a few will probably get a little bent over me talking about it but trust me, the cat has left that bag years ago.

LOG is a short stretch of the Missouri above Holter Lake--below Hauser Dam. You can see the Gates of the Mountains as you drive across the lake in a jet sled. When you get into the actual river again, you're in a canyon and it is quite beautiful. There are definitely worse places to spend a day.

It's called the Land of the Giants for a reason. On average there isn't a place in the Lower Forty-Eight with the concentrations of fish that big. We made a short run of it yesterday and out of 20+ fish, I think maybe two or three were under 20 inches and they were all like footballs in shape and football players in the size of shoulders. It wasn't technical at all as long as you got down to them and they pretty much ate anything pink.

There are a couple reasons the fish are so big up there. They are different strains of rainbows called Eagle Lake and Arlee's that have been stocked and grow up in the lake eating scuds and other fish. The water is typically colder too and fish live healthier and longer. Again,these are stocked fish for the most part even though there are some that do reproduce. It was believed that the stockers were hybrids that don't actually spawn but check out this article for the real deal. (After reading the article I think it will confirm the theory I talked about last fall that we were getting fall spawning rainbows in the lower river.)

Here is the deal, however. LOG is fun to experience but it's not for everyone. Much of your time is spent traveling either to the river or up the river. Ninety percent of the fish are caught nymph fishing although I've been lucky enough to get some good dry fly action and streamers occasionally. It's also getting crazy crowded and it seems like every guide in Montana is getting their captain's license to run motors on the Missouri so it's only going to get worse and there's certainly not a lot of self-regulation going on. Right now, fish are moving onto reds and the bank can get literally shoulder to shoulder with people standing all over those reds, which sounds a little cruel or unethical but to be honest, most of us are ok with it because they're hatchery fish and we don't really revere them as we do wild trout.

Now, I'm not going to be a hypocrite. Like I said, I make a couple trips a year up there because you can literally catch a seven or eight pound trout if you're lucky. And, if someone called me wanting to book a trip, I know I could find a guide to make it happen. But for my money, I like to drift without a motor and target wild fish.  I also don't like to hear motors tooling by while I'm fly fishing. It kind of takes away from the experience of being out in the mountains and enjoying what the West has to offer, which to me is a little peace and quite and wild fish; it's kind of like taking a charter boat on the Great Lakes. It's because of that, I really don't have a desire to get my captain's license and I'm sure the other outfitters will be glad to hear that you won't find me up there guiding anytime soon. (It is hard to argue with the size and the amount of fish up there though...just saying.)

Keep 'em where they live...

P.S. Dan and I had a great time yesterday and I'd hate to leave this post without acknowledging that one, Dan is a really good dude and two, he really knows his shit. I always like getting out with him and I'm sure you would too.

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