Garth's Fishing Trips!!!


February 26, 2013

August 20, 2013

Here are some things to consider about fishing

Fish and the Five Senses

We can all appreciate that seasonal changes affect fish to vary in their location, mood and energy levels. But have you ever considered that in the same way humans use their sense fish do too? Fish actually use their sight, hearing, smell and touch/taste more than you may realize. Let's look at these things in a bit more detail.


Basically if you can see the fish, they can see you! Keep this in mind when you are approaching water. Fish can see well under and above the water but as you might expect, their vision is affected in murky water. So this is something to think about when presenting your fly. If the water is cloudy use dark patterns and present it as close to the fish as possible.

I like flies with hot spots or luminous capabilities such as the midges with florescent heads. Scuds that have a bright orange dubbed in the middle of the pattern. I will also use large dark leech patterns, wooly buggars and attractor patterns that give the best possible chance of a fish seeing it.


The lateral line - on each side of the fish is made of a series of U-shaped tubes. Every time the water outside the U vibrates because of a sound or movement, a tiny hair at the base of the U vibrates sending a signal to the brain. The tout's brain (vary small) translates the vibration into information about where the vibration is coming from. The trout uses the lateral line to find food, escape predators and keep away from obstacles. I ways wondered how a fish could see my fly in the dark while night fishing below magic reservoir in the fall. I believe they felt the vibration from the movement of my fly.


Fish really do have a good sense of smell and have special holes called "nares" to sniff out tiny bits of chemicals in the water. It is thought that they are repelled by human scent so be careful what you handle before tying on a fly. It is the kiss of death to gas up your vehicle in the morning as you head fishing because of the gas residue left on your hands by the gas pumps ensuring the fish won't take your fly. Another item to be very careful with is sun tan lotion. Be sure to carefully wash your hands after rubbing it on your hands and face. I use a special soap designed to eliminate odors. If you don't have soap available use the mud along the shore line to eliminate unnatural odors.


Fish have a very sensitive mouth and it is quite possible that they are able to detect natural and artificial food. So maybe if a fish takes your fly but then discards it - maybe it's purely because it is able to tell it's not real food. Often time I will spray WD-40 on my fly when first starting out. Be careful not to spray marabou tails with it because it will kill the action in the fly. Once a fish is caught I like to rub my fly on the side of a fish to pick up fish slime giving the fly a natural smell.

I Hope these things I've shared with you will help in some small way to increase your chances for a trophy fish.

May the Ford be with you and I'll see you on the water

August 21, 2012

Spooking the Big One

While fishing with a couple of good friends, Darrell Roskelly and Scott Smith. I noticed one of them had a 3 foot bright orange piece of backing tied to the fly line as his butt section. He also was using a very short piece of leader tied to the butt section allowing only 2 feet of leader between the fly and the orange butt section. He wasn't having much success so I asked him would he mind if I set his fly line up properly. The little fish may not be bothered by seeing his line, but you'd better believe trophy size fish are bothered by it. They didn't get big by being completely stupid. Their instincts tell them something is amiss when this bright line comes moving past them. Your float tube is a distraction as well that's why I'm always trying to make my casts to the right or left side of my tube in an area where I haven't been.

Darrell ended up catching one of the largest trout of his life time.

All I did was to lengthen his leader to 12' -moving the fly much farther away from the orange butt section. I then told him about some basic rules I follow concerning leader lengths and fly lines.

Type I, II (Immediate sink line)
12-15 ft. long
Allows fly to ride higher and remain longer in the zone when using a slow retrieve
Dry Line (Floating lines)
15' leaders w/fluorocarbon tippet
Keep fly in top 6" of the water
Type III, IV, V (Fast sink lines)
3-4' of leader
Takes the belly out of the line, so when you're stripping the line it keeps the fly close to the bottom or deeper zones where you feel the fish are stratified.

This is a very basic formula to follow when fishing for trophy trout. I believe in keeping things simple and the above formula does just that. It isn't the answer to every situation you many find yourself in but has worked very well for me over the many years.

Good Luck and Good Fishing,

May the Ford be With You!

Good Luck and Good Fishing,


>August 21, 2012

What's Going on Around You

One of my all-time favorite movies is Shane. It was filmed in the beautiful Teton Mountains near Jackson Hole Wyoming. In the beginning of the movie, Shane notices that Little Joe (a young boy) had been watching him ride his horse for a long time and finally Shane rides up to little Joe and asked him if he had been watching him coming down the trail and little Joe responded "yes I have". Then Shane responded " Ya know, I like a man that watches things going on around him - means he will make his mark someday."

Here is a trick I was taught by one of the best Stillwater fisherman in the country, Denny Rickards. He said "if you're after a trophy trout you need to watch things going on around you while you're sitting in a tube or boat stripping your line in". The trout will tell you what they want but you first need to observe what they're doing and you can't do that if you're just staring at your line while stripping it in. You won't miss any strikes while looking around because you will feel the trout take your fly.

Look for rising fish in a concentrated area. Maybe there are a lot of head/tail raises or very aggressive splashes as fish chase an emerging caddis fly. Look for bubbles left on the inside of the ring indicating they are feeding on adults. You will want to line up markers on the sides of the lake so it will put you back in the hole in case you leave it. A GPS is very effective for marking the hole but if you don't have one, just set up markers along the shore.

Everything you observe throughout the day will help you make your mark when your picture is being taken holding that once in a life time trophy.

Good Luck and Good Fishing,

May the Ford be With You!


August 21, 2012

Matching the Hatch

While recently fishing with a couple of very good friends Darrell Roskelly and Scott Smith we discovered that the trout were full of scuds and large brown leeches. Scott immediately tied on his favorite leech pattern (#8 brown crystal buggar) and ended up catching the largest trout of his life (9lbs.).

Scott put the fly down deep and using slow retrieves was able to fool some very large rainbows. We talked about the importance of understanding what trout feed on out here in the West and patterns we use too imitate them.

Here are 8 very important food organisms that trout have as a big part of their diet:

Seal buggar, wooly buggar, marabou leeches
Slow retrieves
Different size scud patterns 10-16
Short strips then pause
Range of colors from bright green to brown
Slow hand twist then pause
Henry lake renegades
Fast short retrieve
Hare's ear, pheasant tails in various sizes
Short fast retrieve
Different colors and sizes, black, green, red, purple
Slow and pause
Rickards chub minnow patterns
Short fast
Phil Rowley patterns
Short erratic

Take time to study the above food organisms and it will greatly enhance your odds of catching a trophy trout. You will need to know and understand the life cycle and different stages of each. Now you can choose the correct pattern and apply the retrieve to it.

Good Luck and Good Fishing,

Take time to study the above food organisms and it will greatly enhance your odds of catching a trophy trout. You will need to know and understand the life cycle and different stages of each. Now you can choose the correct pattern and apply the retrieve to it.

May the Ford be With You!


April 13, 2012

New Fly Bags Large Fish

24 1/2 lbs.

23 lbs.

17 lbs.

Denny was using the Cortland Clear Camo line fishing close to shore in 5-6 feet of water.

Contact Denny for more information on the Black Callibaetis.

Mail: Denny Rickards
Box 470
Fort Klamath, OR 97626
Phone: (541) 381-2218

April 13, 2012

Have a Game Plan and Follow It

A good friend of mine Marv Taylor, who has fished Stillwater for many years, was telling me about the importance of having a game plan. He said many fishermen make a big mistake fishing a new lake they haven't fished before by not having a game plan. If there is no fish feeding on the surface and there is no hatch in progress, he begins his day by working down the nearest structure ridge, or if there is a feeder stream nearby, he will work the feeder into the lake working both sides of it. If the lake has depths up to 25-35 feet, he will begin with a Type III or a type IV full sink line. He works both sides of the feeder stream with a searching pattern like a leech or sheep creek special.

He will work his way out on the ride to the lake's deepest point. He varies his retrieve until the areas is pretty much covered. He will change flies once or twice usually going from the black or dark-olive leeche or sheep creeks to a brown pattern like the Canadian brown leech. If he reaches a point in the lake where it is 25 feet or more he will switch to a faster sinking line like a 5 or 6 and use patterns like a crawdad (Halloween fly). He will then start working his way back towards the shore. If this doesn't produce fish he will use the same drill at different parts of the lake.

If you look at the hills surrounding the lake they will tell you how fast they drop off or how gradually they slope into the lake. This will give you a good feel for what's happening underneath the surface. Good luck fishing - and may the Ford be with you.

July 2011

My Top Ten Producing Patterns
1. Orange tail seal bugger104Xattractor pattern - burnt orange marabou tail, brown grizzly hackle, drk olive seal fur mixed with fuchsia and blue hollo bright dubbing enhancer for the body, copper rib
2. Canadian brown emerger143Xcaddis imitation - Canadian mohair
dubbed for body, short black hackle tail
with black hackle collar
3. Red hackle blackie83Xleech imitation - black marabou tail,
black seal fur dubbed body, red grizzly hackle wrapped through the body
4. Mighty mouse103Xcased caddis imitation - peacock     
body, brown grizzly hackle wrapped through the body clipped short
5. Brown Crystal bugger104Xleech - Reddish brown tail, brown crystal 
Chenille, brown grizzly hackle
6. Marv's fly124Xscuds/caddis -yellow olive marabou tail,  
brown/yellow variegated  chenille, brown grizzly hackle
7. Denny's still water nymph102Xscuds -burnt orange marabou tail, also the
wood duck tail, wood duck shell back
Peacock cock body, orange hackle wrapped through the body
8. Henry's lake renegade142Xcaddis - peacock body with brown hackle
fore and aft. Red wire ribbing, red thread
9. Still water bug83Xminnows - burgundy marabou tail, three
burgundy marabou wings, ice dub thorax, burgundy hackle collar style
10. Peacock leech123Xleech -brown marabou tail, peackock body,
wrapped over a brown hackle

When using these lake patterns and you are unable to catch fish with them, consider a couple of things.

  1. Am I fising to fish? Am I convinced that when I make a cast that the fish are seeing my fly? If not, then move to an area that holds fish.
  2. Am I fishing the zone at which fish are holding? If my fly is below the fish they won't take the fly because they can't see it. Make sure you are in a the zone by using different sink lines to achieve this goal. I often change my line before I change my fly because more often than not, the zone is more critical than the pattern I'm using.
  3. The Fish are not simply feeding because of barometric pressure, temperature and light conditions. When this occurs I keep on fishing and trying new things - even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while.

Good luck fishing and let the Ford be with you


Give Big Fish Their Head

This time last year I was helping a person try to catch a trophy size fish and the thing I continually tried to point out to him is to never challenge a trophy size fish when you first hook it. Give these fish their head and keep your hand off the drag trim. Most fish are lost on the take or while being landed.

So remember - when you hook a big trout, it's not what the fish does - but what you do that determines the outcome.

Good luck fishing - and I'll see you on the water.

Finicky Fish

Have you ever had a lot of strikes but couldn't get the fish hooked? When a trout really wants your fly, it seldom misses. If it does, he never really wanted it to begin with. Take the time to experiment with different patterns, sizes or colors. When fish are finicky - I will drop my pattern down in size.

Also remember - fishing in dark or clouded water - use dark colored flies. When fishing in clear water on a bright day - use bright colored flies

Good luck fishing - and I'll see you on the water.

Hand Twist Retrieve

Having been fly fishing for over 40 years - the hand-twist retrieve is time tested. If you are going to fish lakes you need this one. I have found the hand-twist to be the most consistent retrieve whenever I use flies size 10 or smaller, such as scud patterns - emerger's midge larva or callibaetis nymphs. The trout that are feeding on insect movements and this retrieve does an excellent job of matching up. You may want to experiment a bit with the speed if you're ever in doubt - go slow.

Good luck fishing - and I'll see you on the water.

Cold Water Slow Retrieves

Spring time is my favorite time of the year to fish - Ice is coming off the reservoirs and lakes and insects are starting to hatch. This time of the year the water is still very cold with most lakes water temperatures in the mid to high 40 degrees. Trout are still a litlle lethargic and are not near as aggressive as they would be if the temperatures were in the mid to high 50's.

So just remember to retrieve your flies at a slower speed than you would during the summer. Your strike may feel like you are dragging your fly through the moss when in reality - it's a big trout. Be sensitive to subtle takes and slow retrieves - it will make a difference in a day of just casting or catching fish.

Good luck fishing - and I'll see you on the water.

Lake Zones

Lake Zones

Because lakes and the habitat where trout live carries so much, a multitude of fly lines are necessary to explore all the options we encounter on still water. Floater lines, full sink, sink tip and shooting heads all have a function and a purpose. The key to catching fish is knowing which line best matches the present conditions as well as the fly we are using at the time. That means choosing a line that will deliver your fly to the fish and hold it in the trout's feeding zone as long as possible.

The fly line dictates the depth and angle your fly must pass through the water during the retrieve. What good is the deadliest fly if trout don't see it? Think about it.

Good luck fishing - and I'll see you on the water.

Know Your Fly Lines

Selecting the right fly line means determining what depth the fish are feeding at and which line will hold your fly in the zone the fish are stratified. Always check the sink rate on the outside of the box before you purchase your line. This will allow you to count down the seconds to know how deep your fly is thus allowing you to keep the fly in the zone the longest amount of time. If the fly line doesn't state the sink rate on the box - don't buy it - you'll never know how deep your fly is.

Good luck fishing and I'll see you on the water

Fishing Journal

May 17, 2010

Something that has become invaluable to me over many years of chasing trophy trout is maintaining a fishing journal during each year. When you get as old as I am, you may not remember things quit as well. A journal will help you remember key features of Still-water, the fly patterns that worked, the best times to fish, water temperature, what lines were most effective and insect hatches. Over time you'll be surprised of how much information you can acquire. My fishing log will now let me know at what location I want to be and what time of year to be there.

Good luck fishing, and May the Ford be with you

Fishing Weed Beds

May 18, 2010

When fishing a lake, I'm continually looking for weed beds. Weed beds are prime areas for locating trout because they often contain the three essentials for trout to survive which are food, cover and oxygen. Place your floating craft in a position that allows you to cast parallel to the weed bank. Many fish will hold just inside the weed bank to enable them to see what is swimming by and suddenly spring out and eat its prey. I have caught some of my biggest trout fishing around weed beds. Take advantage of them and watch your catch ratio go up.

Good luck fishing - and may the Ford be with you!

Keeping Flies In The Zone

May 24, 2010

Trout never feed below the level they are holding because they can't see your fly. Use a fly line that will keep your fly at or above the zone they are holding in. If the trout aren't biting, it could be your line is sinking the fly to deep for the trout to see. Most often I've see the pro's change their lines before changing their fly patterns. I will always have 3 lines when on the water. I Carry a good floating line, an intermediate, and a fast sinking line. This will allow me to cover all the zones on a lake from top to bottom.

Good luck fishing, and may the Ford be with you!

Pursuit of Trophy Trout

May 24, 2010

In pursuit of trophy trout

When fishing on bright days or near the surface, I always use fluorocarbon tippet material. Monofilament nylons reflect light, but fluorocarbon lines absorb light which means the fluorocarbon is less visible and there is no reflection to spook the fish. The deeper you are fishing, the less important fluorocarbon's advantage become. This also holds true for low-light periods throughout the day such as cloudy conditions or early in the morning or late evening fishing. My preferred brand of tippet material is "climax" but there are several good brands on the market. The whole idea here is to allow your fly to look as natural as possible by using nearly invisible tippet.

Good luck fishing, and may the Ford be with you!

Choosing Lakes

June 22, 2010

A few things to remember when choosing a lake to catch a trophy fish.

There are three elements to consider

1 Size

2 Depths

3. Water temperature

Deep high mountain lakes are generally colder, acidic and offer fewer aquatic insects options. The main diet for trout in this type of lake involves minnow fry, sculpins and forage fish, which is something to remember when choosing a fly. Lake Cleveland would be a good example of an acidic lake. I tend to shy away from these types of lakes because of the intimidating depth to cover and fewer food sources to match up with.

Aquatic lakes rich with nutrients tend to be shallower and are warmer fisheries that provide a full menu of aquatic insects and other foods. Trout usually have a large buffet to choose from and will grow much faster as with Henry's lake - matching menus is easier in shallow nutrient lakes than deep cold bodies of water.

So good luck fishing - and may the Ford be with you!

Fish Weight Formula

June 23, 2010

Fish weight formula

This is a tried and proven way of knowing just how much your fish weights. For rainbow trout you measure how long your fish is from the tip of the nose to the center of the tail. You also measure the girth of the fish. Now you simple plug these figures into this formula.

( L X G2 / 800 ) Length times the girth squared divided by 800 = weight of your fish

This formula is very accurate in determining the correct weight. This formula varies slightly for different species of fish.

Good luck fishing and may the Ford be with you.


Barometric Pressure

June 23, 2010

Barometric pressure

Here are a few simple things to remember about how barometric pressure effects fishing

We know barometric pressure is the measure of the weight of atmosphere above us and it actually effects how well people feel and the pressure on water effects fish even more and their feeding habits. A barometer measures the weight of the atmosphere per square inch and compares it to the weight of a column of mercury. 30.4 is a high rating on the barometer and 29.6 is low. When the barometer is above or below these marks, fishing is not good. When the barometer is at 29.9 - 30.2 it's the best time to fish.

Fish bite in all kinds of weather but when a front is moving through the barometer will drop and fish go off the bite - after stabilizing fish will start feeding again. The higher up in elevation, the less effect the barometric pressure has on the water. A slight change of just two tenths on the barometer will affect feeding habits.

Wind Drifting

June 28, 2010

Fish in lakes are usually scattered early in the fishing season. Later on as lakes warm and weed beds form, fish will start to congregate in specific areas. They are creatures of habit and seem to return to certain areas year after year. A method that is very effective early in the year is allowing your boat to drift naturally in the wind. I use a wet cell #4 line or heavier to get my fly down deep so I can drift the fly naturally along the bottom. Let out a lot of fly line and count how many seconds you're sinking your line before retrieving the fly. This allows you to know how deep the fly is depending on your lines sink rate. I will use large leech and attractor patterns when using this method of fishing. If you're fishing Henry's lake in the next couple of weeks, use a large olive and black wooly bugger with a black marabou tail tied on a #4 hook (4X long hook) drifted just above the weed beds - it's the ticket.

So good luck fishing and may the Ford be with you

Drifting Above The Moss

June 28, 2010

A method that is proving out to be very deadly is to tie a leech pattern on a 90o jig head hook. I use marabou or Canadian hair dubbing products when tying on all my leech patterns. Tie in some rubber legs to create more movement on the fly. A jig head hook will allow the fly to ride upside down when moving through the water. This keeps the fly from snagging up without affecting its profile. Set your strike indicator just a foot above the bottom of the lake and allow the wind to slowly move the fly through the water. Hang on to your rod because the lake bottom is where you'll pick up the big ones

Good luck fishing and may the Ford be with.


Here are a couple of things to remember when selecting a fly reel. They play a very small part in the actual pursuit of trout until that is, you tie into a trophy. When that occurs there is a couple of factors that will help determine the outcome.

Does your reel have?

  1. A smooth drag

  2. And spool capacity

Large trout will tear into backing with incredible speed. A quality drag system is the difference between success and a break off. So invest in an engineered reel with solid drag components.

The second critical consideration is to have a reel with a large arbor capable of holding a 100 yards of backing. Few trout get past 50 yards, but when you hit the big one do you want to see the end of your backing before you get the fish turned? A large arbor reel will greatly reduce line memory avoiding unnecessary knots in your fly line

Goode luck fishing and may the Ford be with you


When cold fronts or sudden hot spells arrive they cause surface temperatures to fluctuate effecting trout feeding habits to change. The greater the temperature changes, the longer it takes trout to adjust. Fish going off the bite can be altered by just a few degrees in water temperature because the trout must make a physical adjustment as well.

When the water temperature fluctuates drastically, it becomes difficult to be successful. There are no magic flies that trout just can't resist so when trout don't want to eat you seldom catch them. In this situation try some attractor patterns and hope you're going to irritate a trout into striking.

Goode luck fishing and may the Ford be with


Here are few places that are fishing well right now. Try fishing Henry's lake around Howard creek. There are a lot of brook trout in the lake this year and I predicate someone will catch a state record bookie this fall.

Daniels is fishing well and is always a good midge lake with some nice 17 -20" rainbows.

I'm receiving good reports about Chesterfield Lake near Soda Springs. The upper end in the large bay is producing some nice 3 -4 pound fish and should be excellent this fall.

My favorite right now is Trude's bay on Island Park reservoir. The fish are deep right now because of the warm temperatures but "chromie midge pupae" are deadly along with using a very slow retrieve pulling an I.P red leech pattern. The Grizzly spring's area on Island Park is fishing great also using a Denny Richards burnt orange tail seal bugger, the gray AP (all purpose) emerger or the R/C fly.


The ideal leader for a dry fly.

A tapered leader is the most efficient for transferring energy from the fly line and continuing the magic curl of a cast enabling the fly to drop gently to the water presenting in a true life like manner. Tapered leaders come in different lengths from different manufacturers, if you need longer add a stronger butt section to your leader, for example if fishing for really spooky large fish we will frequently add a 3 or even 6 foot extension of monofilament to the butt so that the fly line is well away from the fly.


The ideal leader for nymphs and lures on rivers & lakes.

Droppered leaders have pre-tied droppers and are ready to fish on any waters. You just have to add your flies! Key is the decision over breaking strain. On rivers where fish are often small using a 3 or 5 weight fly rod with a very light leader maybe 7x just 1.8lb breaking strain is more than sufficient. With a soft or medium action fly rod the rod absorbs the shock of the take and the leader should not break.

Go on a lake and get a big trout hit on a 7 weight fast action rod and you have a problem. Fast action rods cast a long way but have very little "give" and can snap leaders!  Make sure you get the right size - don't use one that is too thin. 


Most trout feeding is below surface where they forge on Nymphs. Insects drop their eggs on the surface and these drift to the bottom of streams and rivers where they stay until hatch and the newly developed nymphs are prime food for hungry trout. Their are hundreds of nymph patterns available with Prince nymphs, Hare's Ear nymphs and Pheasant Tail nymphs being the most popular nymph patterns sold.

If you follow the life cycle of a fly there are 3 usual phases of flies; eggs, nymphs and then the flies whose life cycle may be as little as 1 day!. Nymphs here represent insects in their sub-surface and emerger stages of aquatic life. This stage comes before the adult stage where the insects emerge out of the water and fly away. The final stage is the dry fly where the fly mates and lay eggs and the cycle repeats itself. The term 'Nymph' it is commonly used to refer to any insect in its aquatic life stage. Nymphs are, perhaps one of the most deadly ways of taking trout because most trout feed sub-surface. Sometimes nymphs are weighted in order for them to achieve the proper depth. This additional weight makes them a little harder to cast but the good news is that there is almost no wind resistance. Generally fish nymph flies along the bottom, move them slowly and smoothly. Every now and then dart the flies forward as if it is attacking its prey or trying to escape from the advances of a predatory large fish. Such movements hopefully may induce a following trout to take your fly.

During a hatch or during a spinner fall we watch our fly being gently sipped under the surface of the water by a large trout. However; reality is that 90% of the time when there is not surface action we must use nymphs and fish sub-surface. The trout are still feeding, we simply cannot see it! You can keep casting away at likely hot spots with dry flies but you would have more success if you placed your fly where the fish were feeding and that is under water.

Good luck and good fishing.


Different strengths, different diameters and different breaking strains.

The X system is a hangover from Victorian/Edwardian fishing days and refers to the number of times a piece of gut is pulled through a hole in a metal grid to make it thinner. Luckily we do not use cat gut but it is still used as a unit of measure.

Unfortunately the strengths of different manufacturers lines are all different.

As a guide anything less than 0.12mm is virtually invisible to trout on rivers. If using a soft or medium action rod then low breaking strains are fine to use. If you are on a reservoir or lake using a 7 weight fast action rod then step up your breaking strain. If your tippet material breaks, especially around the knots then go up to the next size of line!

Diameter (mm)
Diameter (inch)
Diameter (mm)
Diameter (inch)
Test (KG)
Test (LB)
4 to 8
6 to 10
10 to 14
12 to 16
14 to 18
16 to 22
18 to 28