“What distinguishes Jack from the many other guides I have had in the Bitterroot is that he doesn’t just help you catch fish — he does that in spades — but that he is also an articulate, keen-eyed and gifted teacher. I learned to fish on the Bitterroot, and Jack’s perceptiveness and patience quickly nailed my mistakes and taught me how to correct them – all the way from casting and mending, to setting the hook, to playing the fish and to landing and releasing it. As a teacher myself, I appreciate the importance of this skill. I also know what a rarity it is among most other guides working the river: they’re strong rowers and know where the fish are, but they can’t really articulate what you’re doing wrong or explain how to fix it, and that can be frustrating if you’re having an off day.
That said, Jack is not just a guide for beginners. I have friends in the Bitterroot who are as experienced as any and who fish all over the world, but they always insist on getting Jack when they’re here, if he’s available. No matter what your level, Jack will help you catch fish; but more importantly, he will help you to be a better fisherman and to enjoy the beauty of the sport, the spirit of the river and the spectacular setting that the Bitterroot affords. Jack just takes the experience to a whole other level.”
David A. from California
David was here for business but had time to fish 2 days with Jack. The last day was on the Clark Fork before he took off from Missoula International Airport for home in CA. Here are a few photos David sent us. Thank you!!
Longtime fishing outfitters from the Bitterroot Valley, Eddie Olwell of Fishs Eddy O and Jack Mauer of Wapiti Waters, were co-recipients of the Outstanding Outfitters of the Year award for 2014 from the Montana Chapter of the American Fisheries Society for their contributions to the protection and enhancement of fisheries in Montana. Mauer and Olwell received the award at the AFS annual banquet in Great Falls on February 26.
The Montana Chapter of the American Fisheries Society was chartered in 1967. Among its objectives are conservation, development and wise utilization of the fisheries, promotion of the educational, scientific and technological development and advancement of all branches of fisheries science and practice, and exchange and dissemination of knowledge about fish, fisheries and related subject.
Olwell and Mauer are fishing outfitters that spend most of their time on the rivers in the Missoula area, but their home water is the Bitterroot River, which has benefitted immensely from their efforts. They have both been active on the Board of the Bitterroot Chapter of Trout Unlimited, each serving as Chapter President and they both frequently donate float trips to raise funds for conservation efforts.
For years Mauer has attended most of the meetings of the Bitterroot Conservation District. His opinions are respected by the Supervisors and he represents a very positive image from the fishing community. Olwell was on the Ravalli County Streamside Setback Committee and is presently an active board member of the Bitterroot Water Forum.
“When an issue comes up that affects water quality, stream processes or any factor important to the fishery of the Bitterroot, Jack and Eddie are always there to make thoughtful comments that support many of the same goals as AFS,” wrote FWP fisheries biologist Chris Clancy in his letter of nomination.
“True to form, when the Ravalli County Commission recently voted to allow homes to be built in the Bitterroot River Floodplain, they both attended more than one meeting to oppose this action. Very few individuals put the time and effort into protecting the natural qualities of rivers like Jack Mauer and Eddie Olwell,” wrote Clancy.
The American Fisheries Society (AFS) is the world’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to strengthening the fisheries profession, advancing fisheries science, and conserving fisheries resources.
It is mid-winter here in the Bitterroot Valley and it is living up to the moniker the Banana Belt of Montana. It has been a very mild winter indeed with record warm temperatures approaching 60 degrees F. There was even a small armada of boats as many fishermen and floaters couldn’t resist the beautiful weather. Stream flows are exceptional and have been all fall and winter because of the frequent rain/snow events. Snow pack percentages are over 100% of average. It is a heavy dense snow-pack with many dangerous fracture layers. Avalanche potential has been high most of the winter thus far.
Seasonal fishing synopsis
Although it is early to make too many predictions, I will try starting with the early season. Spring fishing,
with hatches of the famous skwala stoneflies and later “March Brown” Rithrogena Mayflies, is a popular time for anglers. With the current conditions as good as they are, I expect the flows to be good all spring. But, don’t forget that spring is always a bit of a crap shoot as the river flows can drastically change with weather that is too warm and wet. There are always some anglers with riverboat gamblers’ mentality that love this time of year – mid-March through April and either hit it right or get blown off the water. Wapiti Waters has had certain groups of anglers for 20 consecutive years. Spring time in Montana is captivating and addicting!
The most productive and busiest time of year to fish is late June through mid-July. Insect hatches of Salmon Flies, Golden Stones, Green Drakes and PMD Mayflies seem to really get trout to the surface.
March Brown Mayfly
After high water and run-off there is a time which I call “hero angling” when every fish in the river is “looking up.” Naturally fishing pressure is greatest during this time but one has to be willing to share the resources with one’s fellow anglers, enjoy the weather, diverse hatches and hopefully catch some hot trout. A good guide can work-around some extremely pressured water and coach their fishermen into great fishing. This is a time of year when there are usually big river flows that can handle the pressure. We can reasonably predict early summer of 2015 to be good angling.
Mid to Late Summer
The hatches of insects seem to change in size from big to small. Attractor type patterns and terrestrials seem to work the best. As water temperatures rise and river flows decrease the fishing certainly can take a nose-dive as trout get dormant or “lazy.” We always look for the coolest, shadiest water to float fish and that sometimes means traveling to the Blackfoot and Big Hole River as well as launching in the early mornings. Wapiti Waters has developed a useful arsenal of fly patterns that can interest the finicky, stubborn trout of the summer dog-days. Mid to late summer is the best time to river camp and Wapiti Waters camping trips seem to get more popular every year. It is a great way to enjoy an overnight fishing and river experience. This time of year is too hard to make any concrete predictions as it is too far away at the time of this writing.
Fall is a time when the waters cool and trout become active again. Surface feeding begins each morning on the trico mayfly. This active surface action seems to condition the trout to eat again. A typical fall day includes a morning trico feed and afternoon fishing with grasshopper and/or fall drake mayfly patterns. Once again, a good guide can coach his anglers into fishing these hatches effectively.
Wapiti Waters spends much of the fall on the lower Bitterroot and Clark Fork rivers looking for trout on the rise and an occasional Northern Pike lurking in the slow water or root wads. Some days they can be enticed by large gaudy streamers. By late fall hardwoods, shrubs, cottonwood and aspen colors are brilliant and inspirational. A little snow in the high country and a bugling elk are signs and signals; enjoy the fishing now as winter will soon be upon us.
We will keep our fingers crossed that we will get more snow this winter and frequent rain during the summer. In the meantime, if you are thinking of booking a fishing and or river camping trip in western Montana, feel free to contact us for an honest appraisal of conditions.
The 2014 Guide Season is officially over having my last personal guide days the last week of October. Despite the slow fishing, the radiant fall colors and memories of fast fishing we had through out the year helped ease in the inevitable – winter coming on!
I want to say many words of thanks to all who fished with Wapiti Waters during this glorious season of good flows and good angling. I would also like to mention a couple of anglers who have passed on to the “Happy Fishing
Ground” namely E. Terrill Nobles (Terry Nobles) and Dave Brandt. These two fishermen were the reasons we love guiding. Their attitudes were upbeat whether the fishing was fast or slow and they genuinely loved the waterways and trout environment. Their desires to share this love will always be with us. We will forever miss yet forever remember them.
Another note: We also had the privilege of fishing with Dave Brandt in Argentina– fantastic time and memories.
Dave Brandt and daughter KJ in 2009
Jack Mauer, Wapiti Waters Fly Fishing Montana, Outfitter #867