Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Goodbye, Montana!

It's been a great summer in Montana, but as the air gets cooler, we know it is time to head back home to Florida for a great winter.

Here, Mr. Moose, is longingly looking over his shoulder wishing us a safe trip home. Goodbye, Montana, until next summer.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Happy Birthday, Noah!

Twelve years ago today, The Trout and I were given the most miraculous gift of all...our first grandchild. It opened up a part of our world that we could never have imagined. I had gone to my daughter's home in the last month of her pregnancy. We stenciled her kitchen and I made sure she was going up and down the ladder as the time was getting late and I would need to get back home to work soon.

Finally, labor started and she asked me if I would like to be in the delivery room with her and my son-in-law. I was overwhelmed with happiness. Since I had both my daughters by C-section, I didn't know much about birthing babies. It turned out to be one of the greatest highlights of my life. The miracle of birth...and this was MY grandson.

Noah Michael has turned into a beautiful young man. He has just started middle school, loves baseball and the Yankees and is a great young ball player. He loves the sport.
Noah also loves to go fishing and when he comes down to Florida to visit us, he quickly gets the rod and reel and starts fishing in the pond behind our house.

Noah, happy 12th birthday. We are enjoying watching you grow and love you very, very much.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Our animal friends

As we start preparing for our long trip home next week, we want to remember some of the great animal friends we have made. What a beautiful world we live in!







Sunday, September 20, 2009

It's Sunday!

I thought this was an appropriate posting for a Sunday. On our travels in Montana, we came across this beautiful stone church, St. Mary's Catholic Church in Laurin, Montana. It was built in 1901 and obviously has been lovingly cared for, for over 100 years.
The interior reminded me a lot of churches we have visited in Europe. The town we found this church in has a very small population.
And, just to let you know, it is a very cool day out today, so The Trout started a fire to warm us up. Not surprisingly, he is already out somewhere fishing. Our days in Montana are slowly drawing to a close, so not a minute can be wasted.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Special Stream

I usually don't go with The Trout on his fishing days. I learned long ago that this is something he likes to do by himself. He loves the solitude, the beautiful environs where trout live, and likes to think of nothing else but the moment.

I have no problem with that. I do things where I need alone time also. But, sometimes his favorite fishing streams are quite a distance away, so the Bichon and I go along. We sit and knit or read by the car while he fishes for several hours.

These pictures are of one of his favorite streams. Part of the stream is public and the other part is private, by invitation. He has a friendship with the caretakers of the property and always calls before he wants to fish.
Rarely does he get his picture taken while fishing, but this day was perfect and I wanted to catch him in action.
He is happy. He threw the line and immediately a fish grabbed it.
A beautiful rainbow trout! He holds it long enough for a picture and then this beautiful fish is released back into the cold stream to swim some more.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I have been waiting for this soup!!

We took a little drive for lunch..like about 140 miles! Two years ago, we stopped in a cute little old schoolhouse that was turned into a restaurant. We just happened to be there when they had made split pea and ham soup. It was so good, that for two years we have talked about this darn soup. Well, we called a few days ago to find out what soup they were serving on Tuesday. They said, "what do you want?" The Trout said, "how about split pea and ham?"

We arrived for lunch at this darling little restaurant in Dell, Montana, and coyly asked, "what soup are you serving today?" Well, they did it for us!! Split pea and ham, with so much ham that you almost need a heavy-duty spoon. And, check out the size of the homemade dinner roll. So tall and good, warm, with butter. Just as good as we remembered two years ago!!

I am a reader of all road signs, billboards and personalized license plates. I can't stop myself; it is just something I do, even when I am driving.

A few weeks ago, we were driving along miles and miles of electric fence that housed quite a large herd of buffalo. We knew whose land we were driving by, but it still always amazes me, the wealth that some people have. This sign below was spotted frequently along the electric fence.





Yes, you guessed it. The land belongs to the Ted Turner. Nothing more needs to be said.

Then this morning driving home, we drove past a community dumping area. The sign made me laugh. This is Montana, and they just do things differently than in big towns and cities. You gotta love it!!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

MONTANA PEOPLE AND PLACES - SMALL STREAMS

I favor small streams over big streams - they are much easier to navigate and cross, the trout are concentrated in deep runs and usually the banks are "butt high" for an easy sit down to relax, and they usually run through pastures that mean grasshoppers and attractor flies!!

The above stream is running high with irrigation water for downstream ranchers. Soon the flow will be reduced as the irrigation needs cease as fall approaches and the trout concentrate in deep banks and corners.
This big boy came from a similar corner 3 years ago in this same stream. For what ever reason, I ran my fly near the bank 3 times before the old boy came up to smash it. He was near 23" long and my biggest trout taken from any Montana stream!!!
The above cutthroat trout came from a similar stream. I think I hooked this slab of a cut 2-3 times over the last 2 years but never landed him till this year. He's a good 16" which is a dandy cutthroat in any one's lair!! I've been told there are a couple more bigger than this fella in this run but I'm happy to have landed and released him to fight another day!!
Most small streams favor attractor type flies vs. true "match the hatch" dry flies. As I said, hoppers are a good food source for small stream trout. On the left is a close imitation. Next is an attractor I found in the "Fly Fisherman" magazine some years back. I think it has caught more trout than any other pattern I have used over the years! Next is the "Humpy" which is a close 2nd to the attractor in success and last is a "Trude" type fly that works well also.

So as long as my old legs will allow, I keep sneaking up my favorite SW Montana trout streams in search of beautiful trout. I'll also remember to sit my old hiney down and take in this beautiful country and give a heartfelt thanks for the many days I have spent enjoying this great sport!! May there be many more! TROUT

Friday, September 11, 2009

Can you guess what it is?

Can you guess what this is? I can only guess at the weight, but it must be well over 3 pounds. I grew up eating this vegetable, but on a much smaller scale. It was always a favorite. I wish my mom was alive so I could ask her just exactly how to cook it, but I will experiment since I have a lot of subject to work with.

This is a Kossack Kohlrabi or a giant kohlrabi. The Trout bought it yesterday as he went through town and saw there was a small farmer's market going on. This part of Montana has a lot of Hutterites living here. They are a religious sect and simply delightful people. Years ago we made friends with some Hutterites in a colony in South Dakota. My parents had visited there years before, so we wanted to thank them for the kindness they showed my dad who got ill while visiting there. My father's family goes back to Russia where Hutterites resided because of religious persecution, and came to America to live. My great grandfather belonged to this sect.

So, I know there will be some raw kohlrabi, possibly some in stir-fry, some creamed, braised, etc. Any other ideas? I am a willing listener.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Give a HOOT, Don't Pollute!

Do you remember from years ago, the saying on TV to get us to help clean up our environment? Give a Hoot, Don't Pollute. Well, talk about hooting! This huge owl flew into our yard and just stared at us. Our neighbor, Louie, said it was a Great Gray Owl. He was very large. Be sure to double-click on the picture to see his cute face.
And, of course, one more trout picture. This picture is especially for The Milkman's Wife's Big Son! He has such an interest in trout fishing, that The Trout wanted him to be sure to see this one. It turns out to be the biggest of the season so far. I am told 19". He is a beauty.

Monday, September 7, 2009

MONTANA PEOPLE AND PLACES - BIG WATERS

I've had the pleasure of fishing big streams and small streams - the latter are my favorites as they are easier to get around and safer to wade. But big streams offer a greater diversity of bug hatches and bigger trout. Way back in the early 80's, I had a chance to try the Beaverhead River by Dillon. This stream is best fished from a boat with a knowledgeable guide like I had!
Tim Mosolf out of Frontier Anglers looked the same back some 25 years ago and he was a great guide. He's still at it today and I caught up with him one day this August while wading!
The Big Hole south of us is a real dry fly treat at times with excellent pods of browns, bows and brookies. One must "match the hatch" pretty closely and deliver accurate cast to these wily fellows. The results can bring a wild ride from a nice bow especially like the big boy below.

I've been exploring the upper section of the Clark Fork since last year. It is a big river down by Missoula but a nice braided stream where I go. It flows through pastures mainly which means grasshoppers as a steady diet. This section of the Clark Fork is due an over $400 million restoration effort from the Super Fund to try to get rid of old toxic "slickens" left over from the copper smelting days in Butte and Anaconda. The ground is completely bare from the metals and the water quality is poor as well so lets hope this helps. It can produce some very nice browns who bust the water after my hopper imitation like this 18"er below.
A fly box loaded with standard dry flies will usually "match the hatch" when mayflies and caddis are hatching. From left to right is the Light Cahill, an Adams, PMD, Caddis and a BWO on the dime which shows how small we have to go at times to match the hatch. That's when the prescription glasses come on to try to follow the drift of these tiny fellas.
The Light Cahill was the fly that caught my 1st trout on a fly. One day way around 1981, a friend called me to tell me his son killed em on Elk Creek by Eau Claire, WI. I asked him what he used and he said, "I don't know, some yellow bug!" So I ran home, rifled my old box of flies and found some "Yellow Bugs" and my fly rod and off I went to the stream. Sure enough, the bugs were floating down the stream and a trout nose would rise up for a meal. I managed to get a good drift and caught 5 pretty nice browns. Sure glad I did as it has been a fun run ever since!!...TROUT

Thursday, September 3, 2009

It is finished!

I have finally finished my sewing project, the Raggy Jacket. Wasn't too excited about the Homespun fabric choices I had, so it is hurting somewhat. I do not like the red especially, but was short a new fabric and decided on this. I also did it on the cheap. Went to a fabric mill end warehouse and spent only $29.

I needed to borrow an iron and did not have an ironing board in Montana. I also did not bring my rotary cutter or my plastic measuring rulers, but it worked. I also needed to phone my son-in-law, Mike, to get a quick geometry lesson when I was cutting the bias strips. Wanted to be 100% sure I was laying the fabric in the correct direction before cutting. He told me I was right. Thanks, Mike, for the help. He has cut and laid tile for many years, and I knew he would have the answer.
This will be perfect for winters in Florida, walking the dog. There in the last picture you can see the caboose, so you will know why I need to get walking this winter! By the way, The Trout said I looked like Emmett Kelly in it!!! I know there are some of you out there who know who I am talking about it. Love you, Trout!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

MONTANA PLACES AND PEOPLE - SERIES 3 - FISHING

Obviously, for me, the closest place to search for trout is Georgetown Lake where we rent! Montana stocks the lake heavily, like 250,000 rainbows to satisfy the anglers. Most are taken during ice fishing I am told. These 10-12"er's grow to 16" average pretty quickly on shrimp and plentiful bugs. You can fish the lake by regular boat, float tube or just walk the shore line like I like to do to cast to a cruising "pig"!
This a decent "Bow" who took a damsel fly!! The trout go nuts when the damsels are doing their mating dance on the water. Fish fly out of the water trying to inhale one!! This when Louie calls them the "Goofy Bastards" since we haven't come up with dancing dry fly yet! Can be maddening!!
The other fly that comes after the damsels is the "Callebaetis" - a pretty 1/2" mayfly that hatches from the weeds and comes to the surface to dry its wings before flying off. They are most vulnerable during this time as cruising trout sip them in before they can escape! After mating, they flop to the lake surface to lay their eggs and die and become "spinners"! Again, an easy meal for cruising trout!
These are 2 of my hand tied patterns to imitate the 2 hatches!! Ant patterns and the old "Humpy" are good too!!

Lake fishing is my least favorite as you just kind of hang around and hope a cruising trout finds and likes your bug!! Kind of like watching paint dry a lot of days but when the trout are on, it can be a lot of fun!!

Next, large and small stream fishing!! I had a good day today on the Clark Fork hopper fishing!

On the way home, I stopped at "Uncle Bucks Bar" to wet the whistle! A grasshopper somehow followed me in and hopped up on the bar! The Bar Tender finally noticed the bug sitting there and said, "You know we have a drink named after you!" "You have a drink named BOB" said the hopper!!! OH!!! TROUT

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

This is Anaconda

While in Montana, the closet town to travel to for the post office and groceries, is Anaconda, Montana. It is a cute little town with slow speed zones for 5 miles before arriving in the town and then 25 MPH through the entire town. Easy to get a ticket (smile).

Between 1892 and 1903, Anaconda was the largest copper producing mine in the world. It produced $300 billion worth of metal in its lifetime.

In 1977, Atlantic Richfield bought the mine. Copper prices dropped and ARCO suspended operations. The land around was highly contaminated. Milling and smelting produced wastes with high concentrations of arsenic as well as other heavy metals.

Atlantic Richfield has spent hundreds of millions of dollars decontaminating and rehabilitating the area, though I read that the job is far from finished.
This is a picture of the 585 foot tall smelter smokestack. It is seen from quite a distance as you approach the city. I am told it is large enough on top for a car to drive.

Look at the house in the middle. Yes, there is one house and the sides of two others in this picture. These homes were built for the miners. The house is one window and one door wide, but deep. The front of the house is the living room, then you walk into the kitchen and bathroom, and the last room is the bedroom. Some of the smelter homes remaining are in dire need of renovation, but this one is my favorite because it is just too cute! Every year we are here, I need to stop in front of this house and just enjoy the quaintness. The picket fence and the hollyhocks add such a taste of nostalgia.