download (2)“Who ya gonna call? CARPBUSTERS!”

Carp are kink for many anglers. These bottom feeding brutes are strong, big, and challenging. Whether you use Bank Sticks or a flyrod, carp help to create Monster Memories.

In Europe, Carpin’ is serious business. They use only the best gear and gadgets to hook-up with these elusive goldfish.

In America, we also seek out these trophy leviathans. They are also known as “Bugle Mouth Bass”, Freshwater Bonefish” and “Large-lipped Trout”.

“Carpsters” can be more or less sophisticated. As a kid, I remember using “Bank Sticks” baited with corn dough balls baited onto small #6 hooks. My Dad had a favorite old metal bed spring stashed on the bank that we used for holding our Carp Buster rod rigs.

We would chum corn and wait for the bite. Usually carp would slurp up the corn balls, feel the hook, and roar off. The fish usually hooked themselves.


Carp are common throughout most freshwater and estuary ecosystems. You can hunt these monsters from Montana to Maryland using the same tactics and gear.

20 pounders are common but they grow much larger. The biggest carp I have landed was caught using a recurve bow with a fish arrow. This is a cool way to survive hot summer days while wet wading, stalking, and tuning your archery skills.

Fly fishermen also love Carpin’. They use their long rods and unique fly creations in the quest for monster pigs. Like Bonefishing, it is important to accurately cast, stalk, and time your presentation. Wear camo clothing, move slowly, and cast smoothly. Think about your position to the sun and watch your shadow.
I have found that heavy lines, strike indicators, and weighted flies create too much splash and spook the carp. Try using a good quality fluorocarbon tippet which is stronger than the diameter may seem. These tippets tie clean knots and sink quickly, becoming nearly invisible. Use the lightest strength you can get away with.

Sharpen your hooks out of the box. Anticipate that the carp will make a huge run upon the hookset. Don’t burn your hands trying to slow the run. Let a good disc drag take care of that. Allow the rod to fully bend and prepare to move. Having 100 yards of backing is a good idea. You will need it often.
Dry fly fishing for carp is also fun. I use a yellow glo egg fly on a sharp #6-8 hook. A little Uncle Mike’s fish scent adds some smell and allows the fly to enticingly sink slowly. Use a good pair of polaroid glasses so you can see the take.

Hang on tight. A long handled boat net and forceps will help you handle these beasts if you plan on catch and release.

If you plan on eating your carp, ice the fish quickly. Soak your filets and rinse thoroughly. I have found that fresh carp is best since they don’t freeze well. I have known “Carpbusters” to smoke and plank their filets. Fish cakes made from carp and spiced with Old Bay seasoning are tasty as well. Fish chowders and soups are a perfect platform for this unique fish filet.

The only way to learn how to land BIG fish is to catch BIG fish. Carp are abundant, available, and willing teachers. If you can land a monster carp then big trout, bass, or whatever will be no problem. If BIG fish and action is your thing, then Carpin’ is the ticket. Enjoy the Carp Craze and take a kid fishing!

Tight Lines,
Montana Grant

nymph_fishingI am a “Nymphomaniac”! I am confessing. Now before you get embarrassed, let me explain. I love to catch trout on Nymphs!
Now a lot of you “Dry Fly Purists” are probably gagging at this moment. They only fish for rising trout during the perfect hatch which happens just 10% of your fishing time.

90% of what a trout eats is subsurface and Nymphs are what’s for dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy dry fly fishing too, but I am not the guy that sits on the bank waiting for the hatch to begin.
Remember, most fish begin feeding on the nymphs and emergers before the surface hatch begins. Trout are opportunistic feeders. Many of the “pigs” are full before the dry fly action is in full swing. Big fish became BIG by not exposing themselves to predatory birds and feeding on the most abundant foods that require minimal energy to eat.

I often tie a small dropper nymph off of my dry fly to catch fish that are more picky or lethargic. This presentation is a great combination to stimulate a bite.


If you go fly fishing to just go fishing, then enjoy the day. If you want to actually catch fish, you need to constantly adjust to changing conditions. Considering that trout are eating nymphs 90% of the time, then go with the flow.

Watching a strike indicator is kind of like watching a dry fly. The presentation and drift must still be perfect. There is something zen-like when anticipating the next bite, rise, or strike.

Eventually, even a “Dry Fly Purist” may confess to a desire to catch more fish. It’s alright to be shy, but the fighting fish on the end of your line will make up for the embarrassment. Becoming a true “Purist Nymphomaniac” will make you a better fly fisherman.
Tight lines,
Montana Grant

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Life is a Bite! There is something great about getting a Bite. Oh sure, we all love catching, fighting, netting, and eating fish but the best part is when you feel and see the Bite.

Getting Bites when fishing is great, but this metaphor relates well to all aspects of life.

Think about the first time you cast your best line to a pretty girl or guy and got a nibble. What a great feeling. Our egos grow and so does our confidence.


Not every Bite results in success but the bite still feels good. At least you got a bite and weren’t Skunked. Getting “Skunked” is a whole different article, that we will save for another day.

If you don’t go fishing you will never get a Bite. We have to at least try to get Bites whether on the stream or in life.

So, if life and fishing Bites, then you need to take another cast until you get another Bite. Remember, we learn best from mistakes. The good news is that we get better as we learn more.

So, hit the stream and life with the same gusto. You need to believe that every cast will lead to another Bite.

I gotta go, I think I have a Bite!

Tight lines,

Montana Grant

3619122325_9592bc330d_oWhat is our obsession with “Gittin’ yer limit?” If the sign says “Daily Limit is 5 Trout”, we will pound the water until we reach the “limit.” Never mind how big or small, it’s the limit that matters more than just enjoying the day. “Did you get yer limit?” is the battle cry that recognizes our success.

Limits vary from state to state, pond to river, and fields to mountains. No matter how big the limit is, sportsmen measure success with full creels, stringers, and coolers. For bigger critters, it’s all about gut piles, racks, and filled tags.


“Did ya git yer elk?” is as common a greeting as “howdy” in Montana. One thing that I have noticed when conducting hunting and fishing seminars, is how many so-called “sportsmen” cheat to “git their limit”. Very few stories are without a questionable twist. Trespassing and other unethical practices seem to be acceptable as long as the outcome is a filled tag or limit.

As sportsmen, we must always set the example for other hunters and fishermen. When I am in pursuit of “my limit”, my focus is on the quarry. There is no time to be looking over my shoulder for the game warden. If you follow the rules to “git yer limit”, you don’t have to make up a story that you change later or forget what lie you told. It’s funny how the truth stays the same and is easier to remember.

These legal “limits” are moments when we can say, “I did it!” It is nice to surround our life with special memories, meals, and stories that celebrate our sport. Remember, there’s no limit on how much fun we can have!

 

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Female crabs are up 52% according to the recent dredge survey. The general crab population is healthy and has good potential to grow. The bad news is that the male population dropped significantly over the winter. There seems to be high mortality of last year’s great hatch.

Predation from other crabs and a surge of Red Drum in the lower bay may be the problem. These drum have invaded the Virginia area of the bay where the crabs migrate for the winter. The males or “Jimmies” seem to have been the brunt of the predation.

With the protection of the females, or “sooks”, comes the re-population of future generations. The current management plan is working well. We still need more grasses and habitat to protect the crabs. Less nutrients and fertilizer runoff is necessary to guarantee a healthier Chesapeake Bay.

Lowers Crab Shack in Essex has great crabs and prices. This shop almost never runs out of crabs. You will get great service and delicious crabs that are perfect while watching “them O’s.”

The Striped Bass have finished spawning and are heading out of the Bay. These trophy fish loaf around bridges, edges, and docks. The shore fisherman can do quite well with bucktails and Storm Shads. If you are trolling, look for edges and structure. Motor noise is a problem so use

planer boards or a long line when trolling. Jigging around bridge pilings is also a great way to hook up. Make sure to check your regulations book for specifics.

Maryland trout season is in full swing. The state stocked a lot of trophy fish that are yet unaccounted for. You don’t have to wait for additional stockings to fill a limit. There are plenty of fish scattered in the designated trout waters. The crowds may show up on stocking day but actually catch fewer fish. Some trout just get full from all the free bait and need a few days to get hungry. The trophy fish seem to either hit right away, or after a few weeks in their new homes. Cover a lot of water and mix up your baits and lures.

Polaroid glasses are a must to help you see the trout. Sharpen your hooks and go with ultra light line and gear. Fish attentively and with a positive attitude. Keep your drag on the reel, set light, in case “Jaws” hits your rig. If you don’t have a decent net, beach the fish you plan to keep.

Check the MD DNR website for current information, regulations, and stocking dates. Some waters are closed due to sewage spills and erosion.

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Stripping Streamers is an effective way to catch trout along Montana’s rivers now! One of my favorite streamers is the Clouser Minnow.

Most western fly fishermen take credit for most effective fly patterns. Ironically, a lot of the great western fly fishermen and great fly patterns came from back east. Bob Clouser of Royalton, PA designed the Clouser Minnow in 1984 to be used on smallmouth bass. The great fly fishing mentor Lefty Kreh has caught over 86 different species of fresh and saltwater fish using these simple streamers.


Water conditions in the Madison and Yellowstone are excellent for Clouser Stripping now. Big browns are especially attracted to this technique. Clouser Minnows are also deadly in the Bighorn River each spring.

Most folks that streamer fish don’t have a clue about proper technique. Their rods are elevated and they strip in short jerky motions. They also tend to swim their streamers casually. In all types of fly fishing, you are not just “Matching the Hatch”.

Match the Behavior” of the pattern you are using. The trick is to stimulate a strike by making your streamer appear to be fleeing a hungry predator. The energy and movement you impart to your streamer tells the attacking predator it is dinner time. The predators target is the crippled or panicked prey.

When Stripping Clousers:

Keep the rod tip down and near the water

Use a full arm length for each stripping motion

Don’t stop stripping until you are sure you are hooked up.

Sharpen your hook often.

Also, think about the water you are fishing. Most baitfish are found near the bottom or structure. Use heavier Clouser Minnows in deeper water fishing and lighter ones in shallow areas. Using a small split ring or clip is a time saver when switching streamers, and also gives more action. Good quality Flourocarbon tippet is vital. This type of tippet material tends to be smaller in diameter, abrasion resistant, and ties clean and strong knots. Dispose of old tippet and trash appropriately. Flourocarbon material does not break down in the environment very quickly. Recyling is best.

Match the Size and Color to what is being served for dinner. Observe the routine size of the baitfish in the water you are fishing. I find that trashy and flashy colors that are reflective, work best.

Clouser Minnows ride with the hook up which prevents a lot of snagging. I advise that you still bring an arsenal of backups that are different colors, sizes, and weights. If you have been wanting to learn how to tie flies, the Clouser is a good place to begin.

Clouser Minnows are easy to tie. Personalize your patterns. There is a You Tube video called, “Tying a Clouser Minnow”. If you visit www.flyfisherman.com you can see great step by step instructions. If you want to simply buy some Clousers, go to www.clouserfishing.com and purchase them from the originator.

I normally Strip Clousers from a drift boat. When I fish the stream bank, I generally fish downstream. Casting upstream works also, but you need to be quick with your gear. Wearing apparel that appears as camouflage is a good idea. Good optics will also help you see the action. Cover a lot of water and be aggressive.

 

Tight Lines,

Montana Grant

 

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If you enjoy trout fishing in Maryland, the time is now. Water quality, flows, and destinations are still full of great fish. The state has done a good job in getting this year’s hatchery product into your favorite watersheds. Next years’ stockers have already arrived in the hatcheries and will become fat and healthy for future stockings.

Check out the Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources website for stocking schedules and reports. Their “Anglers Log” section highlights some incredible trout catches. My favorite is a huge Golden Trout caught by a Ravens Beanie-wearing kid on Deer Creek. I love when kids get lucky.


Golden trout of all sizes certainly are fun. These albino Rainbow Trout are the result of years of research in the West Virginia Hatchery Program. These sterile trout fight harder than trout of equal size and add a nice challenge when fishing. I swear that the fish that you see are the hardest to catch.

Maryland also stocks brown, rainbow, and brook trout for the public to enjoy. Now I know that the Fly Fishing purists hate stocked trout. In a place like Montana, trout will survive and reproduce despite incredible fishing pressure. In Maryland, it is a different reality. It is important to provide recreational fisheries that are fun, educational, and productive. Without interest and excitement in our fisheries and the outdoors, these resources will disappear. Maryland is “America in Miniature” so there’s room for something for everyone.

HUGE monster trout are also released in all of the designated trout waters. Some of these monsters are over 10 lbs. It takes 2-3 years to grow these massive “Brooders”. When you are using light gear and line, these “Pigs” are a true challenge.

There are few things in life that are as exciting as catching a fish, hunting, and the outdoors. A stocked trout stream is truly the ultimate “day care”. Kids need distractions that are healthy and fun. If you want kids to make better choices, teach them how to fish and hunt. It’s not expensive and the rules, limits, and regulations are models for the rest of life’s adventures. I have never seen a person not get excited when catching a fish. These motivated sportsmen become the voters that will protect our natural resources in the future.

A great fishery for kids right now is the current Hickory Shad run along the banks of the Susquehanna River. They call the shad, “Poor Man’s Salmon”. These amazing fish fight, jump, and will excite any angler. Catching and releasing these 2-4 lb. fish is addictive. The Nungesser spoons and shad darts used for lures are cheap and effective. The river has an awesome trail along the western banks for biking and hiking also. Many of the anglers are friendly and helpful, especially to women and kids. A basic medium action rod with 6 lb. test line is adequate. Bring the camera to record the huge smiles and the day’s adventures.

Tight lines, big smiles, and great stories are what inspire us to be fishermen and sportsmen. Every legal and ethically harvested fish, crab, or wild game is a trophy. We may forget a bad day at school or work but we never forget the big trout, striper, or buck. Continue to support and enjoy our precious resources. Oh, and don’t forget to take a kid or rookie out for a great day of fun!

IMG_20130409_152031_021You never know what will happen when you take your wife fishing. That’s how I met “her other man.” Men and women just don’t see things the same way. We certainly have many differences.

Men have hunting and fishing in our DNA so we use all of our senses to tag out or catch a limit. Our focus is on looking for a subtle rise of a trout, a flask of a swimming fish, or the perfect pool. Our joy comes from having a plan come together. Men are the hunters and women are the gatherers.


Women enjoy the scenery, flowers, and exercise. Their attention to detail is amazing. Every bug, flower, and bird are easily seen as they count the minutes to when it’s time to pack it in. Maybe the next stop will be somewhere to get a cold glass of wine and find a bathroom.

Men are not quitters. Our mantra is “one more cast dear!” There is another perfect pool just upstream. A good man will have all the comforts possible and try to hook their woman up. Dry boots are a must. Stylish attire is also important.

So there we were, me and Montana Lin, enjoying our unseasonably warm day on the Gallatin River. Trout are rising, and we’re catching fish. Everywhere there are deer, ducks, geese, and pheasants. I am planning a special dinner with her so catching a limit is important. She is catching fish too.

During our fishing trip, Montana Lin also found a great beaver football. These are log sections that beavers make by chewing both ends. Guess who gets to carry it?

Suddenly, Montana Lin lets out a shout over a special discovery. Fortunately it was too cold for snakes. She had discovered a most unique find among the millions of rocks strewn around the riverbank.

This is when Mr. Happy became “the other man.” I would have never seen such a unique rock in a million years. Even if I tried, I don’t believe I could ever find another. Talk about finding a “needle in a haystack!”

This special river rock had a perfect face naturally etched into it. One rock amongst a thousand was smiling back at her as she walked along the river, already bored. When we got home, Mr. Happy ended up with a coat of paint to mimic a smiley face. Montana Lin even made Mr. Happy a special nest to sit in. Simply amazing!

We are hoping that this Good Luck rock will pay off with some future good fortune. Oh yea, the fishing was pretty good too.

Tight lines,

Montana Grant

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Southwest Montana trout fishing is heating up! Ironically, today it is snowing. Things should get back on track shortly. The good news is that the rivers are clear and full. It is important to hit the rivers now before any melt off muddies your prospects.

I have been fishing the West Gallatin River regularly and have enjoyed great success with the Rainbows feeding on the surface. Brown trout are mixed in with the Rainbows and will also feed heavily on the rainbow eggs soon to be deposited in active redds or nests. Be careful not to disturb the trout lovebirds.

My feeling is that trout migrate into these rivers to spawn or adjust to low water and temperature. With the Rainbows nearing spawning time, they are feeding heavily. Any access seems equally good. It is important to look for active fish. Use quality polaroid sunglasses, a decent hat, and your hunting skills. I wear camo clothing and consider the angle of the sun. Movement, shadows, and noisy footsteps will limit your success.


My best time for hooking up seems to be from afternoon until dark. Once you find a pod of active fish, start at the tailout and work upstream. The Rainbows are averaging 12-17 inches and are “hot” fighters. Make sure your leaders and knots are perfect. My tippet has been down to 3-4lb. test which requires you to fight the trout carefully. The Browns are not fighting as hard but are in the same size range. They seem skinny to me but that will soon change.

For flies I have been using a size 16-18 Grifiths’ gnat tied extra hairy. This mimics a cluster of midges and I can see it. Fish a tandem rig or add a small Desert Storm size 18 midge larva as a short dropper. Make sure to sharpen your hooks! Presentation is key and most fish cooperate. I am having some nymph success using princes, eggs, worms, golden stones, and serendipities but… active rising trout are tough to pass up!

The Lower Madison is bigger water, fish, and fun. I am finding the same scenarios and using the same tactics. There were some Baetis coming off but the midge action seems better. Wind is always an issue on the Madison so bring your Big Stick. Be prepared to run your own shuttles. Drifting is fine but once you locate a pod of active fish, life will be good in one place.

I used streamers and large stone/crayfish patterns to hook some great Browns. Fishing was slower but worth the effort. Hiking up into the Beartrap Canyon is always a good bet. No rattlesnakes yet. Search for active trout and target specific fish.

The Upper Madison is fishing well mainly from Varney Bridge to the Burnt Tree access. Portions are currently closed so check the regulations and signs. Lots of late afternoon midge action and some small stoneflies are on the menu. If you don’t want to drift, search for active fish upstream of you. I have been within a mile of the access points and found several hot spots.

The Yellowstone River is typically windy. Lots of bugs just get blown into the next county. Look for a more sheltered area near a bend to find active fish. Size 16-20 midges are the ticket once you are on active fish. It was so windy the other day that I changed over to a spinning rod and cast a #1 silver Blue Fox spinner into the big water. Shhh, don’t tell the fly fishing purists!

There have been plugs of mud coming down the river from the Lamar and Gardiner Rivers. Expect this on warmer days as the snow melts. Travel in your vehicle to search out clean water. Don’t be afraid to fish downstream from Livingston to Billings.

“Catching fish” is different than ‘fishing.” Presentation is key. Make sure you are sharpening your hooks, tying strong knots and stalking your fish. There is not just one thing to help you catch more fish. We will never be experts. Just be a student and good ambassador of our great sport and let karma take over!

Tight lines,

Montana Grant

Grant and MagMontana winters seem to last forever. This year’s winter hasn’t been that rough but if you don’t ski, winters can seem longer. Ice fishing helps to pass the time but we need to stay active.

I use the short day time to train the dogs. A little exercise is also good for the Big Fat Daddy! We all tend to put on a little weight each winter. Exercise helps to keep our “guts” in check. Maybe just an extra hole or two on your belts is all you will need.


Winters do concentrate where the birds will be. Huns are very active and fun to work with. Pheasants can be tracked in the snow so you can set the pups up for success.

Use a blank gun to add some excitement. Go through the motions of flushing, shooting, and retrieving. I use a pheasant retrieving dummy that I throw when the real deal flushes. The dogs love the excitement and the training will pay off big rewards in the fall.

Winter means no rattlesnakes or other “buggie” problems. A pair of booties can be helpful to protect your dogs’ feet. Buy the hunter orange ones so you can find any boots that kick off.

You can also do some Antler Training now. Take some old sheds and cut off the sharp points. Start by hiding the sheds with a treat. Pieces of hot dog or something stinky work well. Go through the commands and reward process as the dogs discover an antler. The antlers also make a great chew toy. Be sure to trim the sharp tines first. If antlers are a dog’s favorite, you will be happy when they walk over with a fresh shed that they found during a winter hike.

Picking up trash or junk is a great way to show respect to all landowners. We all need to be stewards of our environment. As a Boy Scout, we always teach how to “leave a campsite better than you found it.” Your winter dog walks are also a way to just reflect upon how lucky you are to survive another year. Dogs and people don’t live forever. Take a walk to celebrate our precious time on Earth and maybe lose a few pounds too!

Spring is just around the corner!

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