Photo of the Month: Backcountry Brook Trout

Photo of the Month: Backcountry Brook Trout

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The Old Homeplace

One piece of my trip to Glacier National Park last summer was much more personal than just great scenery or even good fishing. You see, my grandpa, great aunt, and great uncles on my dad's side were originally from near Kalispell. I have heard about Glacier National Park for many years, especially from my great aunt. It was clearly her favorite national park, and now I see why. The one thing I hoped to do, but really didn't have much expectation of pulling off, was to find the old homeplace just west of Kalispell.

So, on the day we left Glacier National Park to head towards Idaho, we had a mission. That morning, we packed up camp. In the process, I got a few last good pictures of the local wildlife. Then, it was on towards town where we intended to make one last grocery stop to stock up for a long week of fishing in Idaho. The coolers needed to be topped off with ice, and we were hoping to find a good safe option for takeout at lunch. 

Camp food is delicious and filling, but since we were traveling, something delicious like pizza was going to be a lot easier. After a little searching, we selected Bullman's Wood Fired Pizza which proved to be a winner. We got pizza takeout twice on this trip, and both times were delicious. At Bullman's, we were so hungry we ordered two pizzas, settling on the Gallatin pizza and the Pesto & Goat Cheese pizza. Both were delicious although we got full before we made it through two entire pizzas. Oh well, they made an excellent snack a few short hours later.

After getting the pizza, we took some hazy directions west out of Kalispell on highway 2, hoping to find the old homeplace. The Knapp's had settled here on 80 acres and raised my grandpa and his three siblings. We followed the directions we had, but there was so much new development that it was very difficult to follow. In fact, we made one or two wrong turns and were actively considering giving up when we found another possibility. A couple of turns later, we were looking at something that was incredibly similar to the description I had. I took a few pictures including a couple of the cellphone variety. 

Then, I had a brainwave. I called my great aunt to ask a few details about the property. She still remembers it well, and when I started to describe what we saw, she assured me that it was the property. Later, she again confirmed that the pictures were it. I had found the old Knapp homeplace. The 80 acres were still intact, and I was left wishing that it was still in the family. I semi joked with my wife that we should ask the owners for right of first refusal. I think it would be pretty neat to live back on the old Knapp farm again. I'll probably never have that kind of money though. This beautiful land close to Kalispell is now worth quite a lot. It is nice to dream though! If you ever want to buy me a really big present, now you know what to get. Here is the old place we found...




Friday, March 19, 2021

Glacier Day Eight: Hiking to Siyeh Pass and Hiking to Piegan Pass

We did not mean to save the best for last. Even now, my wife and I debate which day in Glacier National Park was our favorite. One thing we don't argue about, however, is that our last day is right up there at the top. The closest possible competition was the day we hiked to Sperry Glacier. We still debate which of those two days were our favorite. Gunsight Lake would have been high on the list if it hadn't of been for the bugs. A good day, for sure, but the bugs guaranteed it wouldn't be our favorite.

On our last day in Glacier National Park, we really wanted to do a big hike that my friend John had told me about. Siyeh Pass is best done as a through hike that utilizes the Park's shuttle system to get from one trailhead to the other. Of course, with COVID going on, this wasn't going to be an option. We briefly considered just making the hike up or down the road. In the end, however, we decided to begin and end at Siyeh Bend. This would strictly be an out and back hike. Our goal was a quick hike up to Siyeh Pass to enjoy the wildflowers in Preston Park.

The whole trip would be about nine miles, just a quick jaunt at this point in our trip. We decided to skip carrying lunch for such a short hike. This was a small mistake but not one that we would notice too badly. That morning, we almost thought we wouldn't be able to do the hike. We woke up to thunder and lightning and a much needed rain shower passing through. The early morning was gloomy, but soon gave way to the dramatic. 

Sunrise in Glacier National Park

As the rising sun slanted over the top of the mountains, the rich early light lit up the appropriately named Heavens Peak. We had checked the radar and thought we would be able to hike, but the sky was quite foreboding at this point. Here is a closeup of Heavens Peak along with a wider angle shot showing the dramatic sky. 

Heavens Peak in Glacier National Park
Heavens Peak at Sunrise ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Morning Sky over Heavens Peak in Glacier National Park
Sky On Fire Over Heavens Peak ©2020 David Knapp Photography

The dramatic light did not last long. The sunlight was slanting under the clouds from the east and lighting up the sky to our west. These shots were taken from Trail Ridge Road looking west. The light was just barely coming over the top of the ridge to our east before the clouds covered the sun. This is looking up towards Logan Pass from the same place. 

Sunrise looking towards Logan Pass, the Garden Wall, and Bird Woman Falls
Looking Towards Logan Pass at Sunrise ©2020 David Knapp Photography

The dramatic quickly turned a flat gray. It seemed obvious that we were about to get wet and our hike would either be delayed or ended completely before it began. This is higher up towards the pass looking south. 

Mt. Oberlin, Clements Mountain, and Mt. Cannon with Bird Woman Falls below
Bird Woman Falls ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Surprise Bonus

Around this time, we came across another special bird that I had last seen just days before near Sperry Glacier. The ptarmigan is a neat bird that I had always wanted to photograph. Somehow, on this trip, I got two opportunities! This one wasn't great in terms of the setting, but I did have another picture of a ptarmigan. This one was in full summer dress with just hints of white left from the winter coat and blended in perfectly with all the rocks and brush nearby. 

 

Ptarmigan on the Going to the Sun Road
Ptarmigan Beside Going to the Sun Road ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Parking at Siyeh Bend and Preparing for Our Hike

We soon resumed our trip towards the parking area at Siyeh Bend. As with all other mornings, we got there early to snag a parking spot. It was a good thing we got there when we did. Breakfast came out next and we watched as the last few parking spots were taken. If we had been 30 minutes later, there would have been no hiking or at least a much longer hike. As we ate breakfast, the sky turned even more dramatic before starting to look like things would clear up. Mammatus clouds loomed over Going to the Sun Mountain and also off to the south before drifting on to the east. 


Dramatic sky over Siyeh Bend
Dramatic Clouds Over Siyeh Bend ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Mammatus clouds over Going to the Sun Mountain
Mammatus Clouds and Going to the Sun Mountain ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Looking back towards the west, we finally started to think this hike would happen after all. Neither of us wanted to get caught above tree line in a lightning storm. Thankfully, the area of disturbed weather seemed to be passing us by finally. We got our packs ready, loaded with water and grabbed our cameras. We had already experienced some incredible scenery and dramatic views and we hadn't even hit the trail yet!

Beginning Our Hike to Siyeh Pass

Just across the road, we began hiking up the short bit of trail that parallels Siyeh Creek. The wildflowers that were blooming there were just a foreshadowing of things to come. This hike would easily win for best wildflower hike of our trip. At this point, however, we didn't yet know that and were just glad to be finding some amazing color and scenery. 

Siyah Creek looking towards Piegan Pass
Siyeh Creek Looking Towards Piegan Pass ©2020 David Knapp Photography

It didn't take long before the trail started heading rapidly higher. Coming around one sharp corner, we ran into our only up close big animal for the day. This skinny looking doe was eating as much as she could and clearly needed still more food. We quickly snapped a picture or two and then kept going. 

deer beside the Siyeh Pass Trail hiking to the Piegan Pass Trail
Doe Mule Deer Spotted While Hiking to Siyeh Pass ©2020 David Knapp Photography

We were in a hurry so to speak. You see, much of this hike is through exposed terrain without any canopy to keep off the hot sun. At this point, we were still fortunate to have widespread clouds to shade us a bit longer and wanted to make the most of this nice cool morning. Climbing rapidly higher, the trees started to thin out as we approached our second trail junction of the day. Our first trail junction happened when we turned onto the Piegan Pass Trail. This second junction was when we finally turned off on the Siyeh Pass Trail and began ascending into Preston Park. The wildflowers were already amazing. Without knowing how stunning things would be yet ahead, we began taking a lot of pictures and our pace slowed dramatically. 

Mount Siyeh and wildflowers along Piegan Pass Trail
Mt. Siyeh Looming Over Everything ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Wildflowers and looking towards Siyeh Pass
A Hint of Extraodinary Things to Come ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Wildflowers Of Preston Park 

Soon, we found ourselves wandering slowly up through Preston Park. Again and again we found ourselves stopping to take pictures from different angles of the extraordinary scenery we were passing through. I was going from one extreme to the other. I wanted to capture the entire view and also all the details. The sheer number and volume of wildflowers had me really wishing that I had carried my tripod on this hike to get some better pictures. Alas, I have just another good reason to go back someday. 

Large Mountain Monkey-Flower along Siyeh Pass Trail
Large Mountain Monkey-Flower ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Alpine Forget-me-not near Siyeh Pass
Alpine Forget-Me-Not ©2020 David Knapp Photography


After the wildflowers, I looked around and took what would become one of many. The views back down Preston Park to the west and southwest were just incredible. I think I could dedicate a whole day just to take various versions of these pictures. To the right is Piegan Mountain with Heavy Runner Mountain in the distance in the middle. The left side of the first picture is the side of Matahpi Peak. Sometime, I want to go back and climb some of these mountains, but especially Piegan and Siyeh. 

Piegan Mountain, Matahpi Peak, and Heavy Runner Mountain views from Preston Park
Matahpi Peak Flanks, Piegan Mountain, and Heavy Runner Mountain ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Looking down Siyeh Creek towards Heavy Runner Mountain
Heavy Runner Mountain and Siyeh Creek Headwaters ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Shortly after taking these pictures, I came across one of my favorite wildflower displays of the whole trip. Yellow Columbine were high on my list of favorites from this trip, and I found them growing in such numbers that it was literally overwhelming. I didn't even know which way to point the camera, but somehow I managed to snap a couple pictures. 

Yellow Columbine near Siyeh Pass Trail in Preston Park
Yellow Columbine Along Siyeh Pass Trail ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Of course, it wasn't long before I was looking at the bigger picture again. At some point, I had wandered out ahead with my camera while my wife was further back taking some closeups. I cannot remember if she was taking pictures of flowers or ground squirrels, but I'm guessing it was the latter. She was always on the lookout for animals on this trip!

Preston Park hiker below Heavy Runner Mountain and Piegan Mountain
My Wife Looking for the Next Shot ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Siyeh Pass

Another large mammal encounter awaited as us we finally made it to Siyeh Pass itself. This female bighorn sheep wandered out across the stark and now barren landscape of the pass. I can't imagine how incredibly harsh this environment is during the winter months. Intense winds and snow scour this landscape every winter. In the warmth of summer, however, the wild critters venture through this otherwise wild landscape to feed on the transitory abundance. The wildflowers take advantage of the brief growing season before going dormant for yet another long cold winter.

Bighorn Sheep at Siyeh Pass
Siyeh Pass Bighorn Sheep ©2020 David Knapp Photography

As we enjoyed the views from Siyeh Pass, we were reminded that lunch would be nice by the other hikers enjoying their lunches there. Briefly, we contemplated enjoying our raspberry fig bars, but instead decided to make a quick descent back to the car for a full blown lunch. Funny how our plans don't always happen the way we think...

Panorama just below Siyeh Pass
Panorama Just Below Siyeh Pass ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Siyeh Pass selfie
Selfie Near Siyeh Pass ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Descending the Siyeh Pass Trail Through Preston Park

As we began descending, I couldn't just walk away without a few more wildflower shots. Okay, maybe a lot of wildflower shots. Up close, further back, landscape scenic shots still featuring wildflowers, more yellow Columbine, I just couldn't get enough. We were just about to have our day extended, but at the time, I just figured we had a quick descent and a few extra minutes wouldn't hurt. 

Dwarf Fireweed near Siyeh pass Trail
Dwarf Fireweed Near Siyeh Pass Trail ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Rocky Ledge Penstemon along Siyeh Pass Trail
Rocky Ledge Penstemon ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Piegan Mountain and wildflower foreground
Piegan Mountain and Wildflowers ©2020 David Knapp

Yellow Columbine
Yellow Columbine ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Wildflowers Galore in Preston Park
Preston Park Wildflowers ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Shortly after taking this last picture, I ran into the most interesting gentleman. He was retired and lived in nearby Kalispell, Montana. He was a Vietnam Veteran who spent most of his free time in Glacier National Park, hiking, enjoying photography, and otherwise having great adventures. We struck up a conversation and soon he was telling me more about the surrounding landscape than I could have ever read in a trail guide or other book. He mentioned that he would probably go up on Piegan Mountain for the day, but since the day was still young, he wasn't sure what he might end up doing yet. I asked about Piegan Pass, to which he replied that we really needed to go up there to see it. "It is only a couple of miles up there," he said. Our short nine mile day with just a couple of snacks and two liters of water each was about to morph into yet another thirteen mile hike.

We continued talking for a good long while. I asked about the large mammals that he had seen. Apparently he had seen just about all of them. Then, I asked about wolverines. When planning this trip, I had read that Glacier National Park is the best place in the Lower 48 to see a wolverine. Everything is relative, of course, but I still thought that was pretty intriguing. As it turns out, that is one animal this gentleman had not seen. He had missed seeing one by about fifteen minutes one time, but never had he seen one himself. Just another reason to return to this amazing National Park!!!

After finally wrapping up my discussion with this interesting guy, I talked to my wife and explained what he had told me. She agreed that we should go ahead and head up to Piegan Pass. We both knew we might get pretty hungry, but this was a potential once in a lifetime trip. You just never know when you'll be on an adventure to Glacier National Park again. 

Hiking to Piegan Pass


We quickly hiked back down to the trail junction with just a couple of stops for pictures. One interesting flower we spotted was the western anemone. This flower has a beautiful silky fruiting head after the flower blooms. These silky heads were so incredibly soft. You have to see and touch it to grasp just how soft these are!

Siyeh Pass Trail western anemone or western pasqueflower
Western Anemone ©2020 David Knapp Photography

By the time we got back down to the junction with the Piegan Pass Trail, the sun was high overhead and beginning to finally break through the clouds. This would be a bright sunny hike along a very exposed section of trail. The hike was absolutely worth it, however! We had to cross a couple of large snowfields that were still drifted over the trail. We carefully took our time. If you start sliding on some of these snowfields, the final landing spot is on rather jagged rocks far below and you don't want to make that mistake. Here are a couple of views of the trail.

Piegan Mountain and Piegan Pass
Looking Towards Piegan Pass ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Piegan Pass Trail looking towards Piegan Pass
Piegan Pass Trail ©2020 David Knapp Photography


As we ascended closer and closer to the pass, the bulk of Piegan Mountain was well off to our left, providing impressive views. Suddenly, we noticed some specks moving across the large expanse of white on the flanks of the mountain. Upon closer inspection, we realized we were looking at a couple of bighorn sheep. Here is what we saw. 

Bighorn sheep crossing a snowfield on Piegan Mountain
Mountain Sheep and Snowfields ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Piegan Mountain and Snowfields
Can You Find the Bighorn Sheep? ©2020 David Knapp Photography


At this point, we were nearly at the pass. As we entered the pass, we found amazing views down towards the Many Glacier portion of Glacier National Park. We had hoped to spend a lot of time on this side of the Park. Alas, they had closed it down due to COVID, greatly adding to the crowding and congestion in other portions of the Park. Oh well, next time we'll explore this area. We took some quick pictures, finally ate our snack, and then finished off our water. We now had a good long walk ahead of us before we found water again. It was time to head downhill. 

Looking north from Piegan Pass
The North Side of Piegan Pass ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Looking towards Many Glacier from Piegan Pass
Big Views at Piegan Pass ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Selfie at Piegan Pass
Piegan Pass Selfie ©2020 David Knapp Photography

The Hike Back Down

The return hike went rather quickly. This trail is a nice gentle grade without too many steep sections. We were able to make incredibly good time. At this point in our trip, we were both in peak hiking condition and could really crank out the miles. The only thing that slowed us down was the wildflowers. I know, big surprise, right?!?!

I found some beargrass blooming and had to make a few more photographs. This is an incredible wildflower and iconic of Glacier National Park. In addition to photographing a few more flowers, we also stopped at the first good stream crossing to filter some fresh drinking water. We were both getting a little parched at this point!

Piegan Pass Trail Beargrass
Beargrass ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Siyeh Pass Trail Beargrass
Beargrass Trailside ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Scenic Beargrass and Matahpi Peak
Beargrass Looking Towards Matahpi Peak ©2020 David Knapp Photography 


We made it back to the car in good shape, just a little more hungry than we had intended. Lunch happened and then we turned our car back towards camp for our final night in Glacier National Park. One adventure was wrapping up, but another was just about to begin. The next phase of our trip would involve a little more fishing and chasing a bucket list fish for me, the bull trout. On our way back to camp, we found the bighorn sheep hanging out at the Logan Pass Visitor Center Parking lot again. We had to take a few more shots of them of course...


Logan Pass Visitor Center Bighorn Sheep
Bighorn Sheep at Logan Pass Visitor Center ©2020 David Knapp Photography

Other Recent Blog Posts on Glacier National Park You May Enjoy

Hiking to Sperry Glacier: Part One

Hiking and Fishing at Snyder Lake



Wednesday, March 17, 2021

When You Just Need More Weight

As a fly fishing guide, there are lots of little tips and tricks I get to pass on to my clients. It would be nearly impossible to compile those into one resource unfortunately. Okay, so maybe not impossible, but it would take me a while to think about it while I'm sitting at home writing. Most of these things have a way of coming up during the natural flow of a day on the water. That is what guides should do, offer advice on how to improve, or at least on different ways to do things. A guided trip should be as much a chance to improve as an angler as it is a chance to catch lots of fish. Those two things generally go hand in hand. 

Anyway, these little tips often come up in the natural flow of a guided trip. One that comes up quite often is the idea of getting your flies down to the fish. One of my favorite guiding moments happens when teaching nymphing strategies, either for the Nymphing Class at Little River Outfitters, or just on a regular guided trip. What usually happens is something like this. 

We are fishing nymphs, either under a strike indicator or high sticking (tight lining/euro nymphing) and not catching any fish. At some point, I suggest that we add some split shot. Sometimes there is even already some shot on the line. However, it sometimes just isn't enough. The split shot needs to be heavy enough to get the flies down. Depending on stream flow, depth, flies used, and technique, you might need anywhere from one #8 split shot to a string of #1 or even heavier shot. Sometimes just one addition works. Other times it can take two or three. Either way, the best part happens when the first cast is made after the correct amount of shot is added. Almost invariably, the angler will catch a fish. That is a much more effective lesson than simply telling someone they should add more shot if they aren't catching fish. 

Of course, if you add too much shot, you'll be hanging on the bottom continually. Thus, a good rule of thumb is to add shot until you're constantly hanging the bottom. Then, take one off and you should be about right. You want to be ticking the bottom some but not losing flies.

The funny thing about tips and tricks is that sometimes you have to remind yourself about them. Yesterday, after a morning guided trip, I had a little time to kill before heading back home. Last week, on a guided trip, I had come across a couple of nice brown trout that seemed willing to eat dry flies. In fact, we missed one of them on a dry fly that day. I had been wanting to see those fish up close and had already devoted one quick stop to try and catch one to no avail. Yesterday seemed like a good opportunity. 

I got to the chosen spot and waded right in. Drifting a dry fly through the run produced exactly zero takes, so I changed tactics and tied on a nymph rig involving a small pheasant tail nymph and a small hare's ear nymph on 6x tippet. To this, I added two #4 split shot. For the depth and current, that seemed about right since I had small flies and fine tippet. A New Zealand Indicator finished the rig. 

For the next five minutes, I got many drifts through what I thought was the sweet spot. There were exactly zero strikes. Knowing how many fish this pool typically contains, I was a bit shocked. Surely something would want to eat my nymphs! I was just about to give up when it occurred to me that I might not be as deep as I had assumed. Deciding to get to the bottom of things so to speak, I added a #1 shot and now felt confident of getting down. 

On the very next cast, I had a quick hit from an eight inch rainbow that just as quickly released itself. That was enough, however, to convince me to try another five minutes of casts. In fact, it only took about three more casts before the indicator dove convincingly yet again. This time, I could tell there was some heft to the fish. In fact, it didn't want to move where I wanted it to at all!

Babying the 6x tippet, I took plenty of time fighting this beautiful brown trout. Every time I thought it was about whipped, it surged back into the depths. Finally, after a couple of downstream runs that prompted me to follow, I got it close and with the head up, quickly scooped with my net. 

Large Great Smoky Mountains National Park brown trout


This was probably one of the larger brown trout I will catch this year in the Smokies, possibly even the largest. I've had plenty of years where this would be my best Great Smoky Mountain brown trout. Not bad for fifteen minutes or so of fishing and just about as much time fiddling with my rigging. Sometimes you just need more weight. I shouldn't be surprised anymore, but for some reason this lesson always gets me. Anyway, next time you aren't finding success with nymphs, try adding some weight. You just might be surprised...

Sunday, March 14, 2021

A Quick Getaway

Fishing trips are few and far between these days, at least the kind where I get to hold the fly rod and do the catching. One amazing perk of life as a fly fishing guide is getting to be on the water every day. However, your own personal fishing time usually suffers. This year, I'll fish even less than usual since we have a little one on the way. Last week, I enjoyed what will probably be the last overnight fishing trip until fall at the earliest. It was a much needed getaway to get me excited about the guide season that is now in full swing. 

Spring Hatches

The first hatches of spring have commenced. Quill gordon and blue quill mayflies are hatching well most days and provided excellent dry fly fishing on the Oconaluftee River. On the first day, in particular, my friend and fellow guide Pat Tully and I took our time seeking out risers in the afternoon. The hatch was a bit slow to get started with very cool overnight temperatures. Once it started though, we found rising trout the rest of the day until quitting for the evening. 

Blue quills have the edge in numbers, but where quill gordon mayflies hatch in enough numbers, the trout get excited about them. That said, we caught a lot more rising trout that we targeted with smaller patterns instead of larger. In addition to the mayflies, we are seeing good numbers of early brown stoneflies, little black stoneflies, and little black caddis. Midges hatch prolifically every day as well.

Fishing the Oconaluftee

I enjoyed this river all three days, but really focused on it the first and last day of my trip. The surprising part of the trip was how poorly certain sections fished. That is typical of early season fishing, however, and probably has a lot to do with the fact that the wild rainbows are largely busy spawning right now. Thankfully, the brown trout were looking up by afternoon every day and we caught enough to keep busy. Here are a couple of pictures from my time on the Oconaluftee. 



Fishing Noland Creek

One thing I have become much more intentional about the last few years is trying new and different things. That is how I stay interested and enjoy fly fishing even while my career means I'm on the water every day. This has been a huge benefit to me over the last few years. I've got to explore more and further, and fishing new water is always a blast. 

On this trip, I was debating fishing Deep Creek which is a long time personal favorite. When it came time to head over there, I even stopped by the parking area at the trailhead. However, I decided to continue my policy of trying new places to fish at least once per trip. This led me on a short drive down the Road to Nowhere to fish Noland Creek. 


Now, this wasn't the first time I've fished Noland Creek. I had fished there before, but always down towards Fontana Lake. I've caught some nice fish down that way as well as seeing some big bear tracks along the lake shore. Anyway, this trip would be my first time venturing upstream from the Road to Nowhere.

When I got to the parking lot, I took my time rigging up. No one else was there, so I didn't need to rush to find that perfect place to fish. After checking and double checking to make sure I had packed my light lunch, I headed down the trail. It really didn't take too long before I just couldn't help it anymore and had to duck in and start fishing. This is one of the prettiest streams and was just the perfect size to fish. The fish were not large, but they were willing for the most part. Here is one of the larger rainbows. Notice all the spots. 


Over the next few hours, I caught and released 30 or more wild rainbow trout. Supposedly there are some brown trout in Noland Creek as well, but I never found any. The rainbows were absolutely stunning. Since we are right around the spawn, they are colored up about as well as you'll ever find them. This one had fewer spots but a stunning red stripe.


One rainbow even had some "cutthroat" markings that suggested something other than pure rainbow trout in its lineage. You see that on most Smokies streams from time to time. Way back in the day, hatcheries were sending all types of trout all over the place. Official stocking records don't ever show cutthroat being stocked in the Smokies, but some of the fish certainly appear to have a few cutthroat trout genes. This fish looked a lot like cutthroat and had almost no spotting but had the red slash under the jaw like a cuttbow.



The fishing was fairly simple, with a Parachute Adams or Pheasant Tail nymph doing most of the damage. While I caught good numbers overall, I still had to work just a little. By the time I fished, ate some lunch, and caught a few more fish, I was getting tired. I decided to walk out before it got too late. Surprisingly, there were several cars in the parking area with at least a few people now fishing close to the road. Still, this seems to be a generally underutilized stream overall. 

A Good Trip

Overall, this was an excellent trip and a nice quick escape before I'm slammed with guide trips. I'll probably end up with one or two more days to fish if I choose to do so this spring, otherwise I'll be busy for a good long while before I get out to fish again. 

Instead of fishing, I'll be thinking about past and future fishing trips. Coming up soon, I'll try to share the next installment from our Glacier trip. The last full day in Glacier is next, then it is on to the fishing part of the trip!






Friday, March 05, 2021

March 2021 Trout Zone Anglers Newsletter

If you haven't checked out our newsletter, please do so HERE. It has lots of good info for upcoming fishing as well as some deals. You can also navigate to the SALE page via the menu bar and see what is for sale. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Caney Fork Scouting Trip

Low water on the Caney will be a rarity for the next couple of weeks, but I found a few while it lasted. If you haven't subscribed to my YouTube channel yet, you probably missed this video. Check it out below, or even better, head over and watch it on YouTube and subscribe to my Trout Zone Anglers channel while you are there. 



Monday, March 01, 2021

First Spring Wildflower Hike

Spring wildflowers and spring dry fly fishing go hand in hand. Both usually kick off the season around the same time. With more than a little rain lately, the spring dry fly fishing might be tougher than usual this year, but the wildflowers are still blooming where they are supposed to. 

Yesterday, I wanted to play around with some new techniques with the camera and post-processing. Focus stacking is a way to get better depth of field in pictures, and my main motivation for learning this technique is spring wildflowers. That said, I'm sure I'll also be using this technique in landscape photography as well. 

Practicing Focus Stacking

Before leaving home, I gave it a quick try on the crocus blooming in my front yard. The method of focus stacking in Photoshop was quite simple, and I was ready to get some wildflowers photographed.

Focus stacking crocus

We headed to a nearby segment of the Cumberland Trail that we enjoy short trips to quite frequently. We are tremendously blessed to have so much good hiking close to home. On many days, we have a hard time deciding where to go because there are so many choices. This time, not wanting to spend a whole day, we decided to stay closer to home. My main goal was wildflowers which narrowed down the options considerably since it is still early in the season. 

Applying Focus Stacking Principles in the Field with Spring Wildflowers

Arriving at our hiking location, we were surprised to find the gate closed. The sign still said it was open, but we couldn't access the usual parking area. Thankfully, there was room to park just outside the gate without blocking anything. Soon, we were walking down the hill and starting the loop hike we enjoy. It didn't take long to find the first wildflowers of interest. 

Spring beauties are one of my favorite early season wildflowers. They often grow in profusion, covering large areas in small white and pink blossoms. The main color is generally white, with small streaks of pink if you look closely. My parents' yard is always a treat this time of year once they start blooming because of the density of blooms. Since it was still early, we didn't find as many as there will be in another week. There were still more than enough to enjoy some photography and practicing my photo stacking technique. 

My camera is a nice one, but so far I only have two lenses for it. Thus, I was stuck using a non macro lens and doing my best to make it work. The results have been better than I expected, and while I still want a dedicated macro lens as soon as possible, this will at least get me through spring wildflower season. 

Spring beauty wildflower focus stacking

Obviously, a macro lens would have been sharper, but considering how small these flowers are, I'm still reasonably satisfied with the result. I at least have something to play around with during the spring wildflower season. 

After I took a few pictures, we continued our loop. The main attraction would be close to the end I hoped. In the meantime, I was keeping an eye out. Surprisingly, all I found was some type of speedwell, and a few more spring beauties. I had been looking for some other early bloomers such as bloodroot or anemone or toothwort, but they simply weren't there yet. 

By the time we were approaching the end of our loop, I was excited to see what was blooming where I expected things to be. Sure enough, we rounded a corner and I began spotting blooms right away. Sharp lobed hepatica blooms in profusion in this area due to a strong limestone outcropping. I have a few places in our area that I know I can go find these beautiful flowers, but this is the most accessible. There were even a few exceptionally colored blooms in addition to the usual white flowers. Here is my favorite, shot using the focus stacking technique. This image is a composite of eight individual images, each with a varying depth of field. 

Focus stacking sharp lobed hepatica spring wildflower