Winter Flies

Posted in Uncategorized on February 7th, 2013 by admin – 1 Comment

If you have ever fished with me you obviously know that I can’t leave the truck without at least a few hundred flies if not thousands.  More than once I have been forced to a bank side seat only to watch on as fish fed recklessly while the one magic fly rested in a fly box back in the truck or worse at home.  Over the years I have condensed my selection and discovered better techniques for organization so I don’t miss out on these critical moments.  My personal approach to a framework of organization has become general and seasonal for the most part.  During the cold months I will usually carry a few boxes full of what I would consider standard patterns including Rubber Legs, Wooley Buggers, San Juan Worms, and even Glo-Bugs.  Since most of us who are fishing during the winter probably know and have a varied selection of the general patterns mentioned above, I thought I would share a few of my favorites that don’t always make the average list and could be applied just about anywhere in the world.

1.) Pink Scud – Some say because of its color that fish are eating it for an egg. I can agree with that…sometimes.  At least it is a guilt free approach of fishing an egg.  Either way there are various colors of this “freshwater shrimp” and pink is my favorite for winter.  If you are going to fish a spring creek or tailwater with weed beds, this one better be an option.

2.) Hot Spot Sow Bug – This is a variation of a few sow bug imitations.  I originally used the fire orange colored thread so that when the fly got wet the orange would illuminate through the dubbing, but it also accentuates the bug from other naturals, “triggering” a reaction bite from the quarry.  Once again, for the most part, this is a spring creek or tailwater bug.

3.) Emerging Midge – I originally created this bug by combining a couple of trigger features from two other proven  patterns during this past hunting season but I wasn’t able to actually test it until December.  A friend of mine eventually exercised its ability and it has become one of my “go-to” midge imitations, especially on the tailraces of the Missouri and the Bighorn Rivers.

4.) Buzz Ball – Created by my personal favorite fly fishing author and theorist, Gary LaFontaine.  Not only do I chose this pattern because it can be applied for just about any small insect hatch but that it shines during midge mating clusters and it’s a great dry fly to hang a light nymph off of in larger sizes.

5.) Olive Sculpin – We are definitely in the midst of the major “streamer revolution” and there are countless variations of the same goal.  They all work, but during the winter I like to keep it small and simple and almost always fished on a sink tip or a full sinking line.

Fly Fishing in Kaua’i ?

Posted in Uncategorized on January 8th, 2013 by admin – 1 Comment

Finally! Sandy and I etched out time to get out of Montana during the winter, do some fishing and squeeze in a little time for our long time pending honeymoon. We headed for Kaua’i, the oldest and one of the least populated Hawaiian Islands. This was the first actual vacation either of us had ever taken. I have to admit it’s difficult to find a reason to leave when you live in and around a vacation destination. A car ride, a couple of layovers, and three planes put us into one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. No offense to Montana but between the ocean and the mountains in Kaua’i, this also has to be one of the most rugged places I have ever been. We found plenty of hiking, body boarding, fishing, coffee, fresh fish, geckos, chickens, plantations, local markets and gorgeous beaches for a full sensory overload. I cannot speak for the entire island since we spent the majority of our time on the north side, but this had to be one of the friendliest places in the world. Maybe it was all of their fun in the sun. Along with their beautiful setting, self sustaining routines, and laid back attitude, Hanalei is definitely one of my favorite towns ever. Contagiously friendly and not once was I handed a plastic bag from any of the stores or markets. Thank you Hanalei, Kaua’i, Hawai’i.

And yes, there are trout in Kaua’i, if you were wondering. This fishing excursion was definitely not about the method or size of the fish. It was all about why and where. Why? Because if it’s a trout and I am within close proximity of it, why not? Where? Not only was the setting stunning, but come to think of it, I’ve never caught a trout in this state. Originally, Rainbow Trout were planted in the 1920’s, now many of the fish are wild even though there is still some annual stocking. Even though there weren’t many, the trout were very spunky and well fed. Unfortunately, many of the locals here don’t practice catch and release. Otherwise, I could see where many of these pools could hold piles of fish. Trout Unlimited along with a few other locals including my guide, are trying to change this standard and encourage regulations to be implemented especially on the stream we fished in particular.

Now I allocated only two days of fishing and wanted to fish everything I saw. I had to chose and decided to dedicate my second outing in the salt even though my guide was slightly apprehensive. The weather and tide was as good as it could get for this time of season. Other conditions were not. There were snorkelers, paddle boarders, wind surfers, swimmers, and rock skippers all over the only flat on the island that held bonefish. Dangerous surf conditions combined with peak tourist season confined everybody to the safest beach for all of these activities. No worries though, we found a little space and I had a handful of great chances. Nearly every fish that I cast at followed, approached, or charged my presentation but never committed when it came down to the final inch. It was heartbreaking. This has to be one of the toughest skunks I have ever had to swallow since I knew I wasn’t going to get another swing at bonefish for a long time. Great, now I have another afflicted addiction. Was it my presentation, human scent on the fly, tippet size, fly pattern or just the fact that I haven’t paid my dues yet? Either way this is my favorite type of fishing. Even though I had only made about six objective casts the entire outing, it was all about the hunt and just experiencing something new. One fish, one cast and a handful of outcomes. The overall technique was very similar to searching and stalking gulpers on the glassy surfaces of Hebgen Lake so it wasn’t entirely out of my comfort zone but I have to admit I was definitely out of my element.

I know that Kaua’i probably doesn’t even make the list when it comes to fly fishing destinations, but it does have some of the largest bonefish in the world and I thought it was a great avenue to immerse myself into this unique environment. Even though my entire focus was tunneled towards my quarry, it still gave me a different perspective than the rest of the tourists just doing the beach thing and sticking to well known attractions. If you ever find yourself looking for something to do in Kaua’i, consider booking Nigel Warrack. He is the only fly fishing guide on the “Garden Isle” that fishes for trout. If trout aren’t your thing or the conditions don’t cooperate, there are plenty of other fly fishing deviations. Bonefish, trevally, smallmouth and peacock bass are all fun diversions. All are well worth the time. If there was anything that I would suggest on the fishing side, I would plan my trip somewhere between early summer and well into fall because of better fishing conditions, more trout options, and fewer tourists. If you have any other more questions about fine details and expectations, feel free to contact me through the ranch.  You can check out more photos from the trip on the Firehole Ranch Facebook page.

Happy New Year!
Josh Duchateau
Head Fishing Guide and Outfitter

Warmest Holiday Wishes from All of Us at Firehole Ranch

Posted in Uncategorized on December 13th, 2012 by admin – Be the first to comment

We hope you are wonderfully well and enjoying the holidays!  At the close of another year, we gratefully pause to wish you a warm and happy holiday season and a healthy and prosperous new year.  We are all blessed to experience the dynamic beauty and adventure of Montana, as our vacation getaway or as our home.  If you have not yet had the opportunity to explore this area we invite you to visit us this summer and experience the magic of Firehole Ranch!

Thanks to all of you who made 2012 our best season ever and we look forward to seeing many of you in 2013!

Warmest wishes for a season filled with peace and joy,
Lyndy Caine


Firehole Ranch is proud to be named a World’s Top 10 Fly Fishing Lodge by Forbes!

No lodge in the U.S. is better located for trout fishing  – Forbes, 2010

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

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