West Yellowstone Trout Spey Days 2017

Welcome to the information page of the

First Annual

West Yellowstone Trout Spey Days!

This event is the brainchild of Big Sky Anglers co-owner Justin Spence, and Sage/Rio/Redington rep Kurt Kruger.  This year we’re keeping things small and low key, and we’d love it if you can make it.  Our hope is that the event will offer folks a place and time to meet up, hang out, share knowledge and information, and maybe find a new fishing buddy or two.

Are you already into Spey casting and fishing for trout?  Maybe you have heard of it, but have never picked up a Spey rod, and are interested in getting involved in this super fun way to fish for trout?  This event is open to everyone, regardless of skill/experience level, age, fly shop or industry affiliation, etc.  We plan on having a selection of demo gear on hand for folks to check out, including Spey rods and lines from Sage, Rio, Redington, Echo, Airflo, Winston, Scott, and OPST.

Take a look below for our event calendar as well as a list of presenters and instructors that will be on hand.  We are super excited to have none other than Spey guru Simon Gawesworth headlining our list of instructors/demonstrators.  If you don’t know Simon, he is a world renowned Spey caster, instructor, author of three books on Spey casting, and a super nice dude. We will have copies of his two books (Spey Casting and the must have Single-Handed Spey Casting) on hand at the shop to purchase and have signed.  If you already have his books, bring ’em by for sure.

Event Calendar

Friday, September 29th, 4pm-7pm – At the Shop

Big Sky Anglers Fly Shop,  39 Madison Avenue in West Yellowstone
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Meet a host of experienced Spey casters,Trout Spey anglers, and instructors, and get dialed in to enjoy a whole new approach to trout fishing.  Everyone is welcome! Whether you are just beginning your journey with 2-handed rods and Spey casting, or you are a veteran with the long rod, please stop in and say hi, hang out, and talk rods, lines, casting technique, presentation, and flies used in Trout Spey and beyond.
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Kurt Kruger, rep for Sage/RIO/Redington, will be set up with a bunch of rods and reels to check out, and will be talking about and answering questions about them.
Jesse Robbins from Sage will be covering fly presentation and general discussion of line choice, MOW and Sink Tips ( with a table of samples set up )
Simon Gawesworth will be holding court at the coffee bar in the back of the shop and talking all things Trout Spey, and maybe signing a few of his books.
Justin Spence and Matt Klara from Big Sky Anglers will be around talking Trout Spey, and sharing a few stories and tips learned over the years.  These two actually started in Trout Spey together on the Madison back around 2000.
Big Sky Anglers shop staff will be on hand to help out with recommendations on where to fish locally, and set you up with any flies, gear, etc you may need.
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Saturday, September 30th, 11am-3pm – On the Water

Madison River Bridge at Hwy 191
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On Water Instruction and Demonstrations
Bring your own gear or try out some of ours!
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List of Presentation Topics:
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11:00am – 11:15am   Introductions and Welcome!

11:30am – 12:00pm   Keith Balfourd – Trout Spey and General Spey – The Basics

12:15pm – 1:15pm     Simon Gawesworth  – Trout Spey Presentation

1:30pm – 2:15pm       Matt Klara – Trout Spey with your single-hand rod – Dries, Nymphs, Soft Hackles, and Streamers

2:30pm – 3:00pm       Rick Wollum – “ Soft Hackles, Intruders and Tube Flies “ techniques and fly choice

3:00pm – 4:00pm       Casting sessions with all presenters.

4:00pm                          Head back to the flyshop for the BBQ!

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Click the Map for Directions

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The on water portion of this event is being hosted on the public lands of Custer Gallatin National Forest.  Thanks to them, of course, for supporting this event!

Saturday, September 30th, 4:30pm-7pm – At the Shop

BBQ catered by Beartooth BBQ at Big Sky Anglers Fly Shop, 39 Madison Avenue in West Yellowstone
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Book signing with Simon Gawesworth.
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Instructors / Presenters

Simon Gawesworth – World Authority on Spey Casting, T.H.C.I, and RIO flyline guru.

Simon’s father taught him to fish at the age of 8 and he’s been teaching fly casting professionally since the age of 16.   With over 35 years of  teaching experience, Simon is a highly sought-after instructor.  He has written 3 books on Spey casting.  He has both cast and fished for England in British, European and World Championships and was elected Captain of the England team for the 2003 World Fly Fishing Championship.  Simon is A.P.G.A.I. and S.T.A.N.I.C. certified in the U.K. and C.I., Master and T.H.C.I. certified in the U.S.  Acknowledged as one of the world’s leading authorities on spey casting, he has taught and demonstrated spey casting around the world.  Simon currently lives in South West Washington with his family and a water-loving dog!

Matt Klara – Neighborhood Authority on Spey Fishing and other random topics, Big Sky Anglers, West Yellowstone, MT

Matt’s journey into Spey casting and fishing actually began with trout back in 2000, on the Madison River just outside of West Yellowstone.  At that point, he was hitting the river with a borrowed 14 ft 8/9wt rod and an old Rio Windcutter line.  And by hitting, we mean actually hitting, thrashing, cussing, and occasionally putting one out there well enough to fool a fish (his words, not ours) .  Matt’s technique and understanding of two-handed casting and fishing have come along greatly since then, to say the least, and so has the equipment available for trout Spey.  He left Montana at one point for a 7 year stint in Oregon where 90% of his fishing was done with two-handed rods, but moved back “home” in 2015.  Currently residing in Helena with his wife and young son, Matt’s now the guy that folks here at Big Sky Anglers look to for help with their casting, gear selection, and more.  Whether its trout, steelhead, or salmon, on the two-hander, he is happy to teach and share what he’s learned on his own journey.

Backside Double Spey Video

Rick Wollum – Anglers West, Emigrant, MT

Rick started in the industry back in the mid 80’s and has since guided and fished his way across many of the West’s great trout waters. He later hosted Flyfishing America on ESPN and traveled across the country fishing some great locations from Alaska to Washington.  Spey casting are for both steelhead and trout are passions within flyfishing that have captivated him for awhile.  In his words, “Swinging flies for steelhead or their freshwater cousins is an exciting game, it’s the grab that is so addictive!”  Rick has been fortunate to have fished with many of the legends of Spey casting and fishing over his career, including Scott O’Donnell and Trey Combs.  He looks forward to sharing what he has learned from them and others with you at Spey Days.

Jesse Robbins – Far Bank

Jesse has worked for the Far Bank brands – Sage, RIO, and Redington – since 2011, helping bring to market a host of Spey and Trout Spey products including the ONE and HYDROGEN Trout Spey Rods and Skagit Trout Max lines, among others.  He has fished two-handed rods from New England to the Great Lakes, across the Rockies, and the Pacific Northwest up to British Columbia.  He is a certified casting instructor and frequent contributor to several fly fishing magazines.

Keith Balfourd – montanaspey.com, Missoula, MT

Keith is a transplant to Montana from the Seattle area.  Having “searched” the steelhead waters of the Pacific Northwest since 1976, he noticed only two things missing in Montana other than steelhead – nobody was using a two-hander and swinging flies for trout, and there was a dearth of knowledge available locally on Spey equipment and casting. That’s why he started Montana Spey in 2010 – to teach and share what he has learned from 25 years of long-rodding.

Poetry from the Water

Fishing isn’t just about catching fish for the vast majority of folks who enjoy the pursuit.  For many of us, angling is an excuse to spend time on the water, in nature, reconnecting with friends, or our thoughts, and soaking it all in.  It’s no surprise that so many anglers also have a bit of an artistic or literary side.  On the water, inspiration is everywhere.
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Big Sky Anglers shop staffer Connor Flynn is one of us who finds inspiration from his time fishing.  Poetry/song are his chosen means of artistic expression, and he’s been kind enough to let us share a couple of his efforts with you via the blog.  The following pieces exist in print as poems, but have also been recorded as songs by Connor, acting as his rockstar alter ego, Black Jack Davey.  If you enjoy these, you can check out what else he’s up to on Facebook .

 “Evening Walk” 

Out on an evening walk tonight

I gaze into the water.

Feeding city dulled eyes

that see in the stillness.

Left by the wind

which perhaps went chasing the cloud’s pagodas.

The clouds that billow in the water.

But looking up,

my real eyes see,

it’s the small waves.

Far away from the dissipating mountains

that lingers till it’s return.

A drifting fish out on an evening float

to gaze up into our world.

At the trees, and the mountains, and the clouds.

And the occasional rambler,

who only through peace can chase the clouds pagodas.

And the occasional rambler,

who only through peace can penetrate the surface.

 “Time Is But The Stream” 

Written in the Frank Church Wilderness, Fall 2015

Time is but the stream

I go fishin’ in.
Everyday I dream of you,
but time keeps drifting’ along.
When I see you in my dreams
I know there’s something wrong.
When you speak to me
you know just what to say.
So why don’t we turn back time?
I can’t take this current alone.
Time is but the stream
I go fishin’ in.
History is the bedcarved by the river of life.
I’ve been in this place way too long.
I’m beginning to question what is real.
Soon I know I’ll be next to you.
When that time comes I’ll certainly know.
Till then,I’ll keep singing’ this song.
Time is but the stream
I go fishin’ in.

Join Us to Celebrate the Shop GRAND OPENING – June 30 through July 2

Big Sky Anglers
Hi, friends.  Please join us Friday, June 30th through Sunday July 2nd to celebrate the Big Sky Anglers shop grand opening.  We are super excited to see everyone and share our new vision with you. We’ve got a number of things planned for the weekend, so be sure to check out the schedule later in this email.  Stop by the shop any time to get in on store-wide sales, giveaways, fly tying demos, fly casting, and more.  We are loaded up with new Big Sky Anglers hats, shirts, and other logo gear, and still have some classic Bud Lilly’s Trout Shop gear hanging around if you are looking for a collectors item or two.
Friday will be a meet and greet during the day for the most part, with tons of sales and giveaways.  We’ll have sales reps in the shop Friday evening, and be hanging out talking rods and lines, and maybe casting a bit over at the park.
Saturday will be the biggest day, with sales reps on site in the evening along with catered BBQ, spirits from Willie’s Distillery in Ennis, and live art from Mimi Matsuda during the day.
Things will wind down on Sunday with more time to meet and greet with us and our staff, more sales, giveaways, and possibly a few surprises.
Best,
Joe Moore, Justin Spence, and Jonathan Heames
Owners, Big Sky Anglers
39 Madison Avenue, West Yellowstone, MT 59758
Special Guests and Events Schedule
Friday June 30
  • 9am – 9pm  Meet and Greet with Staff
  • 9am – 9pm  Sales and giveaways. Tying demos, fly casting, and more.
  • 4pm – 9pm  Winston Rods and Scientific Anglers Rep Travis Morris will be at the shop. Product and casting demos.  SA Line trade in program. Flyline specials.
  • 4pm – 9pm  Montana Fly Company’s Jake Chutz and Kris Keller will be on site talking fly design, bugs, and showing off their awesome fly tying tools and fly boxes.
Saturday, July 1
  • 9am – 9pm  Meet and Greet with Staff
  • 9am – 9pm  Sales and giveaways. Tying demos, fly casting, and more.
  • 10am – 6pm  Artist Mimi Matusda will be in the shop painting live!
  • 1pm on –  RO Drift Boats will be here with a boat full of beer and laughs
  • 4pm – 9pm Simms Rep Nick English will be at the shop talking gear, fishing, and trail running.  He’ll have a full Women’s Waders “Fit Kit” on hand for ladies looking for a way to get dialed in.
  • 4pm – 9pm  Montana Fly Company’s Jake Chutz and Kris Keller will be on site talking fly design, bugs, and showing off their awesome fly tying tools and fly boxes.
  • 4pm – 9pm  SAGE/Rio Rep Kurt Kruger will be in the shop.
  • 4pm – 9pm  Winston Rods and Scientific Anglers Rep Travis Morris will be at the shop. Product and casting demos.  SA Line trade in program. Flyline specials.
  • 6pm – 9pm  Echo/Airflo and Hatch Reels Rep Brandon Prince will be in the shop.
  • 6pm – 9pm  Catered BBQ from Beartooth BBQ of West Yellowstone, MT
  • 6pm – 9pm  Spirits from Willie’s Distillery in Ennis, MT
Sunday, July 2
  •  9am – 9pm  Meet and Greet with Staff
  • 9am – 9pm  Sales and giveaways. Tying demos, fly casting, and more.

Big Sky Anglers, The West Yellowstone Fly Shop, and Jonathan Heames Fly Fishing Have Merged and Acquired Bud Lilly’s Trout Shop

This is the post we’ve all been waiting for folks.  We are thrilled to OFFICIALLY announce the launch of the all new Big Sky Anglers.

WEST YELLOWSTONE, Montana (April, 2017) –  Longtime local guides/outfitters Joe Moore (Big Sky Anglers), Justin Spence (The West Yellowstone Fly Shop),  and Jonathan Heames (Jonathan Heames Fly Fishing & Trouthunter) have merged and acquired Bud Lilly’s Trout Shop.

The entire operation, including outfitting and the fly shop, will move forward as BIG SKY ANGLERS, based here in West Yellowstone, MT.  The merger expands Big Sky Anglers’ prior outfitting territory to include the waters of Gallatin National Forest and the legendary Henry’s Fork of the Snake River in Idaho, and adds an awesome retail fly fishing space to the business.

With over 55 years of combined guiding and fly shop experience in West Yellowstone, Joe, Justin, and Jonathan are excited to continue the tradition started by Bud Lilly over 65 years ago, while adding our own unique voice and vision to the business. We have some great ideas planned for the shop and will incorporate all the wonderful things that have made each of us successful in our own businesses.  As always, customer service is our top priority.

We are on the web at www.bigskyanglers.com and can be reached via email at info@bigskyanglers.com and by phone at 406-646-7801.  We can also be found and reached on Facebook at facebook.com/bigskyanglers/ and on Instagram @bigskyanglers.

The fly shop doors will be open full time starting in the Spring of 2017, following completion of renovations.  We are currently available via phone if you’d like to talk fishing or book trips.  We also have plenty of gear available so don’t hesitate to contact us if you need anything.  Our multi-day grand opening event is scheduled for June 30 through July 2, 2017.  We’ll have lots of surprises in store, along with great guests, discounts, giveaways, and more.  We look forward to seeing everyone then!

With any change brings uncertainty to the customers of any established business, but there are a few important things we’d like everyone to know at this time:

We will maintain our commitment to providing the best guided fishing experience available.  Our staff will include Justin Spence, Joe Moore, and Jonathan Heames as senior guides and owners, along with veteran guides Travis Rydberg and Steve Hoovler, plus your favorite guides who formerly worked for Big Sky Anglers, the West Yellowstone Fly Shop, and Bud Lilly’s Trout Shop.  So, if you love fishing with Greg Falls, Jared Cady, Chris Herpin, Earl James, Donovan Best, Miles Marquez, or Mike Swanson, just give us a call!

Our home base will be in the classic location made famous by Bud Lilly’s Trout Shop at the corner of Canyon and Madison in West Yellowstone.  Stop in and see us this coming season.  We are excited to get to know so many more great folks who share our love for Yellowstone Country!  Our inventory will include: rods from Echo, Sage, Scott, and Winston; reels from Abel, Galvan, Hatch, Waterworks-Lamson, and Ross;  flylines and leaders from Airflo, Maxima, Rio, Scientific Anglers, and Trouthunter; flies from Fulling Mill, Solitude, Umpqua, and local custom tiers; waders and boots from Simms and Korkers, apparel from Simms and Columbia; nets and packs from Fishpond; and sunglasses from Costa del Mar and Smith.

We were able to meet with Bud Lilly in December of 2016 at his home in Three Forks, before he passed away.  We were honored when he asked us to share our stories with him, and explain our plans for moving forward.  He shared a few stories of his own, and graciously offered us his support and well wishes moving forward.

The legacy of Bud Lilly will live on here at Big Sky Anglers.  Bud is a legendary angler and advocate for conservation and protection of wild trout and their habitat in southwest Montana, Yellowstone Park and beyond.  His messages to fellow anglers rings as true today as they did when he started all of this over 65 years ago. We believe that the most profound of Bud’s ideals is that of being a well-rounded angler and participating in fishing for what he calls “The Total Experience”.  It’s not only catching fish that draws us to angling.  It’s the love of the fish and the rivers.   Enjoying our natural surroundings and unique geology, experiencing the local birds and wildlife, participating in our western culture, and doing it all in chosen solitude or in the company of friends and loved ones, is what completes the angling experience and keeps our passion strong.

 

Contact:

Joe Moore, Justin Spence, and Jonathan Heames – Owners, Big Sky Anglers

406-646-7801

info@bigskyanglers.com

Big Sky Anglers, 39 Madison Ave, West Yellowstone, Montana 59758

Madison River Regulation Changes in the air

Statewide, there are fishing regulation changes that are coming down the pipe and frankly, I don’t really care for all of them.  I will not go into any other regulation changes other than those here on the Madison River.  First off, I am not a fisheries biologist, however, the amount of time I have spent on river over the past 23 years of my life as an angler, guide and outfitter gives me some insight on the topic.

Throughout the Rocky Mountain West, fishery managers are on a path to “simplify” regulations.  Folks, if you can read, then you can follow the regulations as they stand right now.  Ever try to draw an hunting tag in the West?  Wading through those regulations takes time, energy and a complete understanding of entire mountain ranges that are broken apart into zones – it gets confusing to say the least.  These “proposed”  fishing regulation changes are a huge swing in the other direction from what we’ve had for a VERY long time.

Why is this?  There are many rivers in the State of Montana that are open year round (the Missouri and the Big Horn to name two notable ones) and fishing these rivers in the spring has not lead to a downfall in fish populations.  However, these rivers are busy places and getting busier all the time – especially the Missouri.  The Madison is the busiest river in the State, period. Opening it up year round will put more pressure on the fish at a time period when they are vulnerable.  I can tell you that as soon as the river is open, more anglers will come here to fish.  Will it hurt the fishery?  That remains to be seen and fisheries biologists will tell you that no, it does not hurt the fishery to fish over spawning fish.  This is where ethics comes in to play a part.  Personally, I don’t fish directly over redds (spawning nests) as I have an overwhelming feeling to leave them alone.  However, I do fish and guide rivers in the springtime and it can be difficult to avoid the redds – in some rivers redds are almost everywhere.  Avoiding the shallow gravel bars and the shallow channels is a solid choice in the months of April, May and early June.  The Madison is a shallow river and a majority of the trout spawn in the river itself.  Do we need more anglers walking on redds and hooking spawning trout?  Will that have a negative impact for the years to come?  I want to say yes, but I can’t say that it will either.  In my opinion, the Madison River needs a break during the springtime.

Below, in black ink, is what’s in store for the Madison River.  I would suggest that most of these changes will happen.  In my experience, once FWP gets this far, it’s imminent.  Your comments matter though, so speak up.  What’s alarming, is that hardly anyone knows about it and not many of us have heard a word about this from FWP.  Just this morning, the outfitters on the river received a note about the proposed changes and now that the public meetings have come and gone, all we can do it write in our comments or make a phone call.  There was not a public meeting in West Yellowstone or Ennis.

MADISON RIVER

Yellowstone National Park boundary to Hebgen Reservoir
• Catch-and-Release for rainbow trout, except anglers 14 years of age and younger may take 1 rainbow trout daily and in possession, any size.
• Combined Trout: 5 brown trout daily and in possession, only 1 over 18 inches. 

Hebgen Dam to Ennis Reservoir
• Artificial lures only.
• Combined Trout: 1 Daily and in possession, any size. .

Quake Lake outlet to Lyons Bridge
• Closed to fishing from boats/vessels

Ennis Bridge to Ennis Lake
• Closed to fishing from boats/vessels

Ennis Dam to the mouth

• Northern Pike: No limit.
RATIONALE: These regulation changes greatly simplify the Madison River fishing regulations.

What’s changed you ask?  Well, quite a bit.

For as along as I can remember the Madison from Quake’s out flow to Mac has been open from the 3rd Saturday in May till the end of February.   That was to protect spawning trout.  If these reg changes happen, then the entire river from Hebgen Dam to Ennis Lake will be open year round.

As it stands right now, anglers can fish bait from Hebgen Dam through Quake Lake. This is a change I can get behind.  I have no problems with anglers who like to fish bait, by all means, go right ahead.  But this is a gem of a river and fishing bait normally means you’re gonna keep the fish.  This leads to the next proposed change.  Anglers inbetween the lakes will no longer be able to keep 5 trout per day, per person.  I hardly ever notice anglers keeping fish except for the spring time inbetween the lakes.  This stretch of river is plum full of spawning trout in the spring time and I have seen, on more than one occasion, stringers full of big rainbows which are full of eggs.  Hopefully they do get eaten and not freezer burned.  In the past ten years, I have hardly wet a line in between the lakes during the spawn….for me, it’s a choice to leave the rainbows alone.

The final proposed change is anglers will now be able to keep 1 fish per day per person on the entire river. For what seems like an eternity, the Madison River has largely been a catch and release fishery.  My personal beliefs are that a trout is worth catching more than just one time.  Catch and release angling does in fact kill fish.  Like it or not, those of us who put em’ back actually kill a percentage of the fish.  A barbless hook regulation would help with this as barbed hook extraction take much longer than a barbless hook.   If a fish is out of the water for a couple minutes while an angler extracts a barbed hook, the fish may swim off, but will probably die a short time later.  Fish barbless folks!

So….make those comments to:  fwpfish@mt.gov    The comment period is open till September 12th, 2015.
Click here for an article on the reg changes and to read a little more about it.  I called and talked with Joel Tohtz this morning for over an hour to express my thoughts.  You can too:  406 444 1230.  Joel is the Fisheries Management Bureau Chief for Montana.


Something else for you to ponder…..

Since 2008 Hebgen Dam has not been functioning.  Hot water has been running right off the top of the lake and into the river all summer long.  Water temps have been way too high during the summer months which was not the case prior to the debacle at Hebgen Dam.  There have been quite a few years where we have seen fish die in the river due to warm water temperatures.  Are rainbows more susceptible to warm water than brown trout?  Yep, they are.  Most of us thought we would see a Hoot Owl closure on the upper Madison River this summer (and past summers) – that did not happen. Most of us altered our fishing hours accordingly to not stress out fish even more.  If you read this site very often, I have been outspoken about Hebgen Dam.  I believe the river needs a couple years, if not more, to see how things (insects and trout) react to a properly functioning, bottom draw dam before we get a sweeping regulation change like the proposal facing us right now.  The Madison will not change overnight with respect to insect hatches and trout behavior.  At this point, the water is coming from around 17 feet below the surface…better late than never.  By November, hopefully, the river be drawing from 37 feet (or around there) below the surface.  Will the hatches go back to the way they were?  Will the consistent fishing on the Madison return?  I say yes…but all in due time.  Why not wait for a couple years to see what happens with the river before we change the regulations?