Fall Hunting and Fishing, an update from Josh Duchateau, Head Guide and Outfitter

Posted in Uncategorized on December 5th, 2012 by admin – 2 Comments

We are in the midst of another wonderful holiday season and closing in on another year’s end. Unfortunately this means that it is time for me to complete fishing log reports for Montana’s Fish,Wildlife, and Parks Department and the Board of Outfitters, which doesn’t allow much time for fishing at the moment. On a positive note I can see the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel.” Uncharacteristically I have only fished a handful of days this fall, the least in at least twelve years. I am not sure what this means or indicates, but what I do know is that I spent a lot of time this past month in the mountains searching for elk, grouse and whatever else one might seek among Montana’s beautiful peace and quiet. This was the first hunting season that I did everything on my own which left me with a certain tranquil gratification that I haven’t felt since I set out for Montana by myself on an Amtrack train with nothing but a bag of clothes, fly rod and a dream, years ago in my late teens. Harvesting and hauling an elk out of the mountains is a daunting task with two people, but when this is done solo it becomes a test. After days of butchering and many sore muscles that I didn’t even know that I had, my friends, family, and I should be eating “grass fed and organically” all winter.

Now as for fishing, when I have been out the fishing has been good to great. The catching has also been good to great. The lake, reservoir, and freestone stream bite is definitely winding down now that the snow and ice have begun to pile up on their edges. No worries though, there are plenty of tail water and spring creek options to fill our appetite. Just last week, Brady managed to land fish on streamers, nymphs, and dry flies while we were on the ever world famous Depuy’s Spring Creek.

Now as daylight dwindles and nights grow longer, what else would I do besides spend my time reading other fishing blogs, watching fishing videos and dissecting fishing product reviews? Here are a couple you might be interested in, a video about fly fishing in Montana, Breathe, and an Orvis Helios 2 product review.  You can also check out our Facebook page for additional photos.  Enjoy!

Merry “Fish”mas and Happy Holidays!

Josh Duchateau
Head Guide and Outfitter

A Conservation Update and Thank You from Lyndy Caine, Firehole Ranch Owner

Posted in Uncategorized on December 3rd, 2012 by admin – Be the first to comment

Dear Friends,

One of the many reasons I own Firehole Ranch is my passion for protecting and conserving wild land for future generations. We invite guests to join us in this important endeavor by making a donation to conservation equal to 1/2% of their guest package. This year you contributed over $4,500! At the end of the season your donations are divided amongst three outstanding conservation groups here in Montana. This month’s newsletter focuses on one of these groups, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC).

The incomparable Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem – one of the last great largely intact temperate ecosystems left on Earth – is as healthy ecologically as it has been at any time since Yellowstone became the world’s first national park in 1872. Grizzly bears roam in greater numbers. Bison habitat is expanding. Wolves are back on the landscape, giving Greater Yellowstone its full complement of wildlife for the first time in nearly a century.

It is due in great part to the work of such organizations as the Greater Yellowstone Coalition that this magnificent region continues to amaze and awe, drawing record numbers of visitors each year to experience its wonders. But at GYC their work is far from finished. With human populations rising, development accelerating and the climate warming, overall wildlife habitat continues to shrink and pressures on the landscape intensify. As the only conservation group dedicated solely to Greater Yellowstone, we are uniquely positioned to protect these lands, waters, and wildlife so that our children and grandchildren will have the opportunity to bear witness to this rare slice of nature’s handiwork. They do this by working locally from their four GYC offices with a wide variety of stakeholders to ensure boots-on-the-ground solutions for the challenges facing us. Learn more about this important organization at www.greateryellowstone.org.

Counting our many blessings, we thank you for your contributions, your support of Firehole Ranch and your enthusiasm for the Yellowstone region. Wishing you and your loved ones a joyous holiday season!

Warmest wishes,

Lyndy Caine, Owner

Enjoying the Off Season, An update from Josh Duchateau

Posted in Uncategorized on November 1st, 2012 by admin – 2 Comments

First and foremost I would like to thank all of our Firehole Ranch guests for another fun and exciting fishing season! As I scroll through some of the 2012 photos, all of the great memories rush back. There were fishing days that almost seemed too easy and just enough tough days to keep egos in check. There were some really big fish along with enough small ones to fill the gaps in between. There were memorable and friendly BBQ Tic-Tac-Toe competitions. It was an unusual water year – perfect for the first half and drastically warm and low for the second half of the season, confining many of the Greater Yellowstone fishing guides. Luckily, at Firehole Ranch we had enough river and stillwater options, creative guides, friendly staff and amazing cuisine to hopefully satisfy all of our guests’ needs.

It’s been more than a month since the guides wrapped up their last day of guiding for the ranch, plenty of time to rest fatigued muscles and minds. Plenty of time for Rowan Nyman to spend time with his family, snap photos, and catch up with his favorite bug, the Blue Winged Olive. Plenty of time for Scotty Hall to do a little streamer fishing and set up for his busy ski instructing season in Big Sky at “the Club”. Plenty of time for Trey Braasch to spend a few days on the Clearwater River in Idaho swinging flies for some truly giant steelhead. Hopefully enough time for Chris King to move into his new house, prepare for the new baby on the way, and of course, squeeze in a little fishing for lake run spawners in Yellowstone National Park on the Madison, Gibbon, and Firehole Rivers. Plenty of time for George Kelly to rekindle a few memories on the Bighorn River and do a little bird hunting with his son Mike and hound Moose. Plenty of time for Allan Muchmore to do a three day float on the Yellowstone River with Brady and venture out to Spokane, Washington to visit his mother for her birthday. Plenty of time for Brady Hughes to catch every fish behind every rock on every river with every one of his fishy friends and relieve his wife Caroline a little from her intense accelerated nursing school schedule. And of course last and very least, plenty of time for me, Josh Duchateau, to fish a stillwater, fish a small stream, fish a large river, entertain parents, bird hunt, antelope hunt, deer hunt, elk hunt, sleep, order flies for the 2013 fishing season and spend some much needed time hiking with my wonderful wife, Sandy.

To wrap it up, I hope all of our guests had a great experience with us at Firehole Ranch and that you will choose to return or at least highly recommend our services. Stay tuned in to our Facebook and blog sites to enjoy of tidbits of life in Montana during winter.

Josh Duchateau
Head Guide and Outfitter

Sandy, Sandy, Sandy

Posted in Uncategorized on May 3rd, 2012 by admin – Be the first to comment

Well she’s at it again.  Sandy considers herself a fair-weather fisher person.  In other words, she patiently waits in a yoga studio on her days off from teaching, until I arrive home with “big fish” reports.  She then allows me to organize the boat equipment and float her down a fishy stretch as long as the sun is out most of the time and the wind is at a minimum. There is a formula that I have developed over the years “reading into” water levels and weather predictions to satisfy Sandy’s requirements.  Sandy has built this strategy over the years after a few uncomfortable trips spent in gale force winds, downpours, and blizzards.  The dogs appreciate this too, since they lounge in the back of the boat soaking up the rays, sniffing and licking each fish brought to net. I don’t blame her, it’s a brilliant plan and I’m not sure why I insist in fishing through the “Suffer Fest” some days.  I guess I appreciate a warm truck, dry clothes and/or a nip of whiskey much more after fighting through bad weather potentials.  Anyway, Sandy considers herself a bona fide streamer fisherwoman, only targeting large specimens that can’t help themselves from charging out from an overhanging bush or bank establishing territorial boundaries.  Though streamer fishing isn’t considered a delicate and precise approach it is very exciting way to fish.  Even when the fish aren’t actually taking the presentation, they still rush the streamer exposing them just long enough for the angler to receive an explosion of excitement satisfying everybody in the boat lucky enough to catch a glimpse of what might have been.  This is also a great way to target brown trout, since they have school yard bully disposition.

The weather has been mild for the tail end of winter.  Spring like conditions has allowed us to camp and float already.  Bug hatches are already seasoning the water’s surface all over southwest Montana, creating a “buzz” in fair-weather fisherman that are usually spending their time on the slopes charging the last bit of powder skiing available.  In between Sandy’s streamer sessions, I’ve been able to stop the boat and stalk rising trout. This has been one of the better midge hatches that I can remember in the past few years.  Conditions have allowed each pool to present a different challenge.  Some pools have fully exposed trout snouts indicating that they are probably eating midge mating clusters which is my favorite because it actually requires a skating presentation.  Other pools seem vacant at first, until you stare for a bit.  At first you might think you’re just seeing things or you might think it’s just a riffle but when slowed down you notice a bulge accompanied by a dorsal or a tail fin. This indicates that the fish are probably eating emerging midges caught in the surface film.  With limited patience, I like to split the difference, approaching each pod with a dry dropper combination.  Sandy, on the other hand, prefers not to complicate things and crashes her streamer down and rips it directly through the middle of the pod.  I don’t blame her, she usually gets one and it’s usually the dominant fish of the bunch.

All that said its time to head into the attic or gear room and bust out the fly rod.  Summer is just around the corner now and it’s never too early to start building muscle memory in those wrists and forearms.  Practice is the only way to improve distance and accuracy. Trust me the guides will thoroughly appreciate this as well as you will.  Instead of spending our time on the side of the river untying beautiful macramé, we will be netting and hoisting a lot more.  There is only just over a month until the Firehole Ranch season begins so, if you haven’t already, its time to start practicing, making reservations, and booking flights.

Fish On!, Josh Duchateau

Mid Winter Fishin’

Posted in Uncategorized on February 22nd, 2012 by admin – Be the first to comment

With temperatures hovering above freezing, Brady and I planned to take to the water.  Since he was in my neck of the woods in Deer Lodge, a two hour drive from his home in Livingston, I insisted that he chose where we fish.  Without any real dry fly options within close range, a nymphing decision was weighed several times the night before over a couple of beers.  Talking about fishing is one of my favorite things to do besides actually doing it.  There were a few promising options where we could hoist large dripping trout measured in pounds not inches, but Brady chose to fish a colder canyon stretch with smaller on average fish in the Big Hole river.  I was kind of surprised with his decision, but I know I shouldn’t have been.  After all, Brady is the only person that has convinced me that it was a good idea to fish twenty five degree temperatures with thirty mile an hour sustained winds more than once.  We chipped ice away from our guides and rods while watching each other dissect each fishy looking pool.  Conditions were good not great.  The fishing was good not great.  It was still really fun and we didn’t see another fisherman all day.  It was well worth our effort and I would do it all over again.

I know that I don’t have to remind you but it’s only half way through winter….technically.  Even though another year is already whizzing by we still have another two months of sub zero temperatures and blowing snow which make some days stall almost to a complete stop.  On that note, as for Montana winters, this has been a mild one.  It is actually raining, melting snow rapidly in the lower elevations as I’m posting this blog.  The state’s overall snowpack is well below normal and the temperatures have kept most of our surrounding rivers virtually ice free. That said, I haven’t heard anybody even whisper a complaint after last years pummeling.  Considering the overall water content and the carryover in all of our western reservoirs, I have a very optimistic outlook for the upcoming Firehole Ranch fishing season.  With a few good to great water years in a row the fish should be very “healthy”, otherwise known as fat and spunky.  The insect activity should finally be consistent with our historic hatch charts.  I look forward to the Firehole and Henry’s Fork fisahing predictably well the first week we are open, unlike last season.  The rest of the rivers should follow suit as we post it in our Firehole Ranch week-by-week fishing forecast.  I can’t wait!

Best Wishes,

Josh Duchateau

Head Guide