Fall/Winter Newsletter

September 2010 - April 2011


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Be sure to check the current fishing report for frequent updates on our conditions and latest fishing excursions.

April 15th

Sierra trading Post has been my biggest supporter in getting my business started. They are a first rate company from the top to the bottom. I probably have fished with fifty people associated with Sierra and every one of them has been just a pleasure to fish with. If a company is only as strong as it's employee's Sierra is as strong as they get. Bob Kolher and Robin Jahnke are two of my favorite guys to fish with. Robin is the Operations Coordinator and Bob is the Human Recourses Director. Not only are they enthusiastic and just love to fish but they have great Mojo and we always seem to catch a bunch of really nice fish.


We decided to try the North Fork first. We realized that it is still kind of early but it is just so beautiful up there, that in itself, would make for a great day. We saw a bunch of elk, sheep deer, eagles and buffalo on the way up. The river is still low and there is a lot of snow still down in the valley. Not much holding water for the fish. The fishing is not complicated. Big stuff on the bottom and fish on! The deepest runs hold all the fish. We really only fished a couple runs all day to catch our share of fish. The weather plays a big part in the fish biting. It was like turning on a switch. As long as the water was deep and slow, if you fish long enough, sooner or later the fish will bite. The guys probably landed about 15 a piece before the weather started coming in and we headed back for town. It was beautiful, we saw tons of wild life, and the guys got a bunch of nice fish! What more can you ask for!


We decided to finish up at Newton. There has been a great midge hatch almost every day out there. It was 4 p.m. when we got there so it was just about done for the day. The guys still managed 3 or 4 nice fish each on the midges before the wind really picked up. Wind is a good thing at Newton. The big browns get active searching for food blown into the shallows in the muddy water of the down wind side. All you need is to see a shadow, sometimes right at your feet, and put a moving fly in front of it and fish on! We spotted probably 15 nice browns in the shallows and had quite a few charge the flies but just couldn't close the deal. It's still a blast to see the fish crash the fly right in front of you. We did manage a few more rainbows but the browns eluded us.


It was a day that turned out much better than expected. We fished hard and it paid off. I had a blast watching these two catch fish all day. Their dedication and strong fishing work ethic make me look pretty good. They'll both be coming back later in the summer and I will really look forward to it. I think we all had a pretty darn good time.  Enjoy the pictures.


April 1st

My friend Mark Sweat came to fish for a couple days and look at a couple bamboo rods. Mark has only been fly fishing a couple of years but has made huge progress in a very short time. He fishes very well, ties his own flies and has really gotten into the bamboo. I wish I had figured things out so quickly. We decided to try several places in one day. Luce had been fishing pretty well in the morning. The Shoshone through town had been having a good BWO hatch from 11 till around 3 and the North Fork was getting better and better on a daily basis.


We started at Luce around 8 a.m. the wind was already steady at 20mph. Mark had brought one of my 7'6" Dickerson tapers to swap a sliding band seat for a classic Dickerson screw locking seat. The rod did very well in the wind and Mark landed several nice rainbows in short order. We toughed it out for a couple hours and managed about 10 fish before it was time to hit the Shoshone.


As soon as we arrived at the river we noticed midges every where. There were several fish rising so we rigged up and tried for a few. They were tough but Mark finally landed a couple nice cutthroats before we headed down stream to a better dry fly run. As soon as we got there the BWO's came off in force. There were fish rising everywhere! Most of the fish appeared to be taking emergers so we rigged a dry we could see with an emerger a foot or so behind. If you got a good drift and put a little twitch on the fly right before it got to the fish it was fish on almost every cast for a couple hours. By the end of the hatch Mark had landed quite a few fish and honed his casting and setting technique to a tee. It was great to see so many fish up on dries. There were literally hundreds of fish rising on about 100 yds of river. Most were small, around 12" or so with a few up towards 16". Dry fly fishing doesn't get much better than that!


It was now 3:30 and we decided to make a run at the North Fork. There was a huge dust cloud coming across the lake with a steady 20 to 25mph wind. Luckily, it started raining and kept the dust down a bit. There were no other people fishing when we got there so we geared up and proceed  down to a good run. Mark hooked two fish right away! A good sign! We started at the top of the run taking a couple steps down stream every couple casts until we began hooking fish. The fish were stacked behind a big rock right on the seam. Mark landed fish after fish until it started getting dark. The fish were all 16" to 21" and pulled hard. We didn't even notice the wind (until it knocked you down). It was a great day. Not to many guys would have weathered those conditions with a smile on their face all day! We headed home tired and happy.


The next day we hit Newton. I had been doing very well on the windy days out there. We started by trying to site fish for a while. We each caught several nice fish but the site fishing actually slowed on the windy side. We moved around to get out of the wind and saw some fish rising to midges in the cove. We put on the Bah Behr with a couple midges hanging below and really got into some fish. It was a bite almost every cast for a couple hours. Another good day of fishing!


Mark tried out a new hollow rod I'd made for big fish and big water but it was just a bit more rod than what he'd been looking for. He finally decided on my faithful companion the Phillipson Dry Fly Special. I've fished that rod for many years and for our conditions out here in Cody it is my most versatile bamboo rod. Tips are light enough to protect light tippet as well as plenty of backbone for wind and bigger fish. I hope he enjoys it as much as I have. I know he will!

February 9th

Winter of 2011

With the influx of sub 0 temps from one week to the next for the past month or so I have been splitting my time between building rods, tying flies and fishing. The fishing on the lower Shoshone has been pretty darn good. The river is coming back strong. Plenty of 15" to 17" fish and tons of little guys of all species. The cutts are now the dominant species due to the restocking efforts of the GAF. Browns are second with good natural reproduction because of the flushing type flows we've been receiving in the summer and this year will be no different. No sediment means good spawning habitat. Rainbows are also doing well but since their spawn gets interrupted by the rising water for irrigation season, they aren't able to naturally reproduce quite as quickly. I have been catching some real nice ones in places however.

The insect life seems to be coming back as well. This fall the mayflies and caddis seemed to be doing really well with good numbers of several species. I'm really looking forward to this spring when the Baetis emerge. That's when I'll be able to put to use some of the killer dry fly rods I've been working on. The winter midges are the only bug that's numbers seem to have dropped. My conclusion is that since the sediment has been drastically reduced, so have the midges. We're just not seeing any of those killer midge hatches where you can pick up handfuls of the little buggers like we did 3 or 4 years ago. Very interesting to watch the changes a stream goes through every year.

Fishing the winter pattern can be very challenging. Sunny high pressure days can be very tough. On these type days I usually start by nymphing some small flies under a bigger dry, paying careful attention to little seams and drop offs. Deep water cut banks can also give up a few fish. Usually what happens is that the fish will not get active until later in the day, Sometimes 3 or 4 in the afternoon as the sun is starting to drop. This is when I go to using a streamer with a soft hackle as a trailer. Cast down stream and across working the flies through the deeper slower water. The fish will sometime want the flies dead drift, on the swing or sometimes require a little movement to get them to take. You just have to play around and see what it takes. On the overcast days you can usually find a few fish rising between 12 and 2 on slower seams and eddies with a little foam. These fish are fun to catch on little dries #18 to 22's. Very often a little emerger fished in the film is the ticket. They can be quite selective and I have spent many an hour working on just a few fish. It's great fun. Nymphing is always an option but I usually reserve it as a last resort. If the fish are especially slow it might take numerous casts to entice a bite. It sometimes seems as if you are creating a hatch by putting your flies over the fish many times. The bottom line is you have to be ready to try any number of presentations on any given day. On most days, sooner or later, the fish will feed. That being said, I have been skunked a couple of times. Humility is inevitable in fishing!

The days to cold to fish I can look out of my shop window at Carter Mountain with the Lower Shoshone in the foreground and realize that those of us in Cody are truly living the dream. Building rods for fun and fishing is definitely a life well wasted. We live on some of the best trout water anywhere in the U.S.A. I remember reading The River Why. On the day he is suppose to be off for college, a boy tells his parents that instead of going to school he has spent his college money on a small cabin on a steelhead stream and plans to fish 16 hour a day. When I think about it, that's what I am doing. Perfecting the art of living in a van down by the river! See you on the water!


First coat on a Winston taper.

 Raw Material!


Lathe for grips, ferrules, and reel seats!

Oven for Heat tempering!

Quad Stripper!

Total Package!

December 22nd

Rods Drying in the Shower!

I've kind of been off the grid for the last month or so with the rod building. Don't get me wrong, we've been fishing at least 2 or 3 times a week, but on the cold nasty days the shop is where you'll find us. Things are actually going much better than I could have anticipated. I have been dabbling with some vintage rods for the past couple years and I have to say that most of the rods we've built seem to cast better than the big name production company rods I purchased.  So far all the guys fishing the rods we made simply love them. I've personally only been able to fish one of the rods I've made for about 2 weeks and then a guy bought it off me over at Newton one day while I was fishing. Money talks!

My buddy Kirk Bollinger made his first blank the other day and it came out real nice. The disease spreads quickly. He made a Dickerson Guide Special that we are both looking forward to casting. Looking at the taper, it looks like it will be a real good big water big fish type rod. Tons of power. Probably another couple weeks till we find out. The other rod that's been a big hit is the little 7' 4 wt Winston taper. Just a sweet little stick made for fishing the smaller streams like the Tongue, the Greybull, and Sunlight creek. It is a surprisingly smooth rod with enough back bone to even handle some decent wind. I've got one with a walnut grip I just finished that is a real beauty. Burgundy wraps tippet black with blued hardware on a dark caramel colored bamboo.   If I get a chance I'd love to take it fishing before it gets away.

The whole process of building rods is quite interesting. We take a raw piece of natural material and turn it into something that is beautiful as well as very functional. Materials are not that expensive but it is a very labor intensive process. A minimum of 40 hours for each rod. There are roughly 150 steps to building a rod. They may seem simple at first glance but there are many ways to screw up on any of the 150 steps as I have found out. The key to building is patience and focus. It seems the minute I let my mind wander even the slightest bit,  I mess something up.

My wife has been very supportive even though I have rods in various states of assembly hanging all over the house. No dust must be stirred on varnish days. I even named the rod company after her as her last name is the name of a famous rod builder and I figured that would be good for business. She is now the president of the Garrison Rod Co.

I have been astounded with the interest in the rods in the last couple weeks. I fished bamboo for the last 3 years almost exclusively and almost no one showed any interest in trying it but the rods are getting gone as fast as I can get them built now. To say I am pleased is an understatement! I get tons of practice and at the same time am able to try new tapers, pay for materials and now even start paying back some of the expense of buying all the equipment. It's a win win for everyone!

It is often said that bamboo rods are fragile and difficult to cast. Many people have the idea that they are wimpy rods without enough get up and go for the windy conditions and big water of Wyoming. All this is just not so. There are many tapers to choose from and depending on where you will be fishing and what kind of techniques you like, there is a bamboo taper to fit almost every situation and your casting style. Recently a lot of my hard core fishing friends have been blown away with the performance of some of the tapers we've built. Bamboo is not fragile. It does require a little more maintenance than graphite but it just takes a minute and is actually kind of fun. I fish a couple rods that are pushing 80 years old. That pretty much tells the story as far as durability. To me they are a delight to cast and have only made good days on the water that much more fun!

So, this is where you'll find me this winter is out in my little shop, overlooking Carter mountain, building bamboo fly rods in some of the best trout fishing country in the USA. Guiding in the summer and building rods in the winter. I'm truly living the dream. If you are interested in checking out bamboo, give me a buzz. I show you around the shop and let you test drive some rods. Who knows? The bamboo bug may bite you to!  Enjoy the pictures!

My first Fish on a Rod I Made!


Nice Wraps!

Rough Strips!

Heat Gun for Straightening!

Mill for cutting Tapered Strips!

7'9" Quad

Finished 7' 4WT


November 8th

The browns are finally on the move with the big cold snap on the way. Kirk and I fished the Indian Reservation on the 8th and had the best day of the season. We must have caught 20 browns and rainbows over 18" in a matter of hours when the cold front came in! It just can't get any better!


We started off up in the state park and the stocking truck arrived dumping it's Monday load of brood stock. We picked up a few but we were looking for the big wild browns on the move. We saw fish and had several on but it was tough until the front came in. We made our way into the reservation about noon. We started out in a big deep pool throwing streamers which had been effective a few days before. Not a bite or even a chaser in about an hour. We moved up stream and switched over to a nymph rig.


All of a sudden the fishing just turned on. It was like someone flipped a switch! I caught 6 fish in 6 casts! All were 18" to 21". Kirk was right behind and began to land fish as well. For roughly 2 solid hours we simply hammered them. Lots of fish were LDR'ed in the fast water when they got below us. Neither of us had ever seen the fishing turn on like this before. The big boys just kept coming. We landed 15 fish out of one hole! Amazing!


Finally it began to slow down and as quickly as it started it just turned off. If we would have been a few hours earlier or later we would have thought it was a slow day. The last hour or so we caught a few nice rainbows but the browns just quit. Browns are a fickle fish. Usually they are very wary and can be pretty challenging, especially in the bright sun but today, for a couple hours you just couldn't keep them off the hook. It is always nice to be there when this happens.


On the ride home we both realized that we had considered just staying home and watching TV or building rods in a warm shop. Had we done that we would have missed out on the best day of the year. The moral of this story is get off your lazy butt and get out there. You might not have as good luck as we did but it will surely be better than sitting at the house! Enjoy the pictures!

October 26th

Wind River Canyon

I got a chance to hit the Wind river on the reservation on the 26th for a couple hours and it was worth the drive. The weather was mostly cloudy which really gets the browns moving over there. The water is still pretty warm and I saw no evidence of any spawning activity. Some of the browns are just starting to show a little color but that water temp is going to have to drop about 5 degrees before they will start building their nests.


1st cast I got a nice female brown on a sow bug behind a bugger. She was in prime shape and pulled for all she was worth. Her girth was impressive and I don't think any of it was eggs yet. There is still lots of salad in Boysen state park. It is really just starting to break up. The water is still off color which is from the reservoir turning over. Nothing else on the streamer so I dropped into the canyon and tried a nymph rig. It was on! The secret fly was the deal! 9 out of 10 fish took the secret fly over a sow bug. I landed several nice browns and rainbows before crossing to the other side.


Wading is touch and go at these flows. If you are a strong wader and know where to cross you will be fine but if you don't you might take a little swim so use caution. The fish were all at the head of the runs in the deepest fastest water. Good mending and big long drifts are critical to getting the fish to bite.


These fish will take you downtown. As the water cools they will get even more active. Be prepared to chase them a 100 yds down stream if you want to land them. I use 17lb test to my flies. Even with this heavy tippet they can still wrap you around a rock or pull the hook with insane jumping or fast long runs in the current below you. It doesn't get any more fun than that.


Look for the fishing to get even better in the coming weeks. Be prepared to deal with the salad for a while. If you like the big boys the time is just starting for some of the best fishing of the season on the Reservation. Be sure to buy your Reservation permit. The price has risen again but is worth every penny! Enjoy the pictures!

October 19th and 20th

My good friend Fred Thranhardt and his daughter Ammie and Megan came over from Jackson for a couple days. I was very happy to see these guys. Last year we were both so busy we didn't get to fish together and as we have become good buddies it was great to finally hit the water for a couple days with them. This was Megan's first time over on this side of the Mountain. She just recently moved out from Georgia and she is just getting started with her fishing so these days were really about her.


Newton has been fishing pretty good and the site fishing is fun and the wading pretty easy so we decided to start there. Megan got the stink off right away with a nice splake. Very good at Newton as this little lake has schooled many a fisherman. As usual, Ammie was on fire from the start. She nailed several nice fish in the first hour. Fred started a little slow but as the morning progress got the rhythm and started nailing some real nice ones as well. Megan only landed one fish but had several other nice ones on. Making a pinpoint cast very quickly, setting the hook, and holding on to some pretty hot fish on light tippet is a pretty big challenge for anyone but she did just great! It's really just great fun spotting the fish and watching their mouths open as they eat your fly!


After lunch we we took the boats down to the river for a short half day float. The lower Shoshone has been on fire so I thought it would be fun but as we all know, it's fishing, and doesn't always turn out as expected. The flows had just been dropped and I was expecting some good dry fly action. The problem was it was bright and sunny and with the lower flow, even thought there were bugs everywhere, the fish were down and uncooperative. We did get to see a nice black bear right behind the super Walmart and a fox hunting on the side of Sulpher creek which made the trip worth while. Fred nailed a couple of nice cuttbows and several smaller fish but everyone else was held to just a few dinks. As the sun went down we did spot a few smaller fish rising but even that didn't last long. That's the way it goes sometimes.


The next day we went up high. Low clear water, lots of fish, and beautiful weather to be up on the mountain. There were hunters everywhere but we never saw another fisherman all day. This turned out to be the perfect spot for Megan. She learned to handle the line in tight places, mend effectively, and use stealth to get the fly to the fish without them knowing you are there. Each pool looked just like an aquarium. The fish were very spooky with the bright sun and the takes were so subtle that if you didn't see the fish eat your fly you would never know you had a bite. Great fun! Luckily we had the secret fly. We tried many other techniques all day but no fish were caught on any thing but the *******. Everyone caught a bunch of fish until the sun went down and we couldn't see them any more. Everything was perfect and the day couldn't have been better.  On the way home we made concrete plans to fish together next summer for sure and Fred was even very interested in trying out the Boo in the near future. I'll make him a little 7' 4wt Winston taper to try over in Jackson this spring and as much as he likes to fish, I have no doubt that he'll soon be sliding down the slippery slope. Great couple days. Enjoy the pictures!

Great Lower Shoshone Fish!



October 1st and 2nd

Kimberly and her friend Pat started the month of October off with a couple days of fishing around Cody. They both had some fly fishing experience but neither had ever fished out of Cody before. I decided to give them a little tour and show them the diversity of fly fishing in the area.


Fishing with women is very fun for me. They aren't really hard core so we aren't out there for 14 hours straight every day. They listen very well to advice and tend to pay attention much better than most guys. They are very appreciative and don't need to catch all the fish in the river. They fish with an open heart simply to have fun and enjoy the day which is exactly the way it's supposed to be!


We hit a freestone stream the first day. The fish were small but plentiful and the scenery was spectacular. Last year at this time we had some snow but this year it was sunny and 70 with no wind. Beautiful. The fishing started off a little slow. It took us a while to learn the basic techniques and for it to warm enough to get the fish going. By noon it was on. Both girls were site fishing for the rest of the afternoon. Spot the fish, make the cast, see the fish chase down your fly, and set the hook! It was a blast! We got them on top and subsurface for the rest of the afternoon. We even got back early enough for a nice dinner and a good nights sleep!

The next day we decided to do a half day at a lake looking for some big fish and the other half on a nice little float through town. The weather was again perfect. The sun was out and made the visibility perfect for sight fishing. As soon as we hit the water we started spotting fish. This type of fishing is great fun and doesn't require anything but short casts but they have to be very accurate. The fish were very spooky early but as the water warmed up they began to get interested. Again both girls did great. Very fun to spot the fish, make the cast and see the fish open their mouths and eat your fly right in front of you. The fish were all 18" and up which is nice. We really wanted a nice fall brown but they had just started to spawn and had other things on their minds.


After lunch we hit the river. We put in below the hot spring and had a nice peaceful float down the canyon to where the fishing started. With the bright sun and this being their first time fishing from a boat our expectations weren't to high but it was only a few minutes before both girls started reeling them in hand over fist. Good fishing MOJO!  The river fish fight a lot harder for their size and a few were lost in battle but the girls did very well catching a bunch of nice fat fish. Pat's arm got so tired from fighting fish that she couldn't even hold them up for a picture. A very good feeling. We began to loose the sun before we realized how late it had gotten. None of us were ready to quit. It was a very successful day on all accounts. I had a great time fishing with these two and I hope they'll come back soon and do it again!

Sept 16th and 17th

Adrian Marshall and his wife Karen came to fish for a couple days. This was to be Karen's first time fly fishing. I especially like to teach people to fly fish. If I do a good job Adrian will have a fishing partner for life and another person may enjoy the happiness that fly fishing has brought to me and my wife. Your first fish on a fly is a once in a lifetime experience!


The first day can be very frustrating. No one is a natural at casting. It takes practice and there is no way around it. Charles Ritz of hotel fame once said a person shouldn't even try to catch a fish until they have practiced casting for 30 days. That way the most frustrating part will be out of the way and you can be aggravated by every other obstacle. My job is to keep it fun and make sure the experience is still enjoyable at the end of the day.


Karen said she was a little nervous but seemed very willing to give it a try. When we hit the water the conditions were perfect with the exception of some wind. This is no little thing on your first day. It makes things tough. Karen was a great sport and within 30 minutes or so she had her first fish on a fly. Adrian had never fished dry flies before so this was a great opportunity for him to get a taste of one of the most fun ways to catch fish on a fly.


We fished our way up stream talking about ways to combat the wind, mending, reading water, laughing and keeping it light with both guys catching fish! Pretty neat! The wind made it a bit frustrating for Karen but she didn't give up. Adrian caught a bunch on dries and had a great time. We ended the day on a nice fish and had the traditional 2 Klondike bar treat in Meeteetse. A pretty darn good first day!


The second day we took a chance and tried for some big fish in Newton lake. When you sight fish at Newton you stalk fish like a heron. There is virtually no casting which is great for a beginner. You see the fish coming and flip a 10' cast in front of it. You get to see the fish accelerate on your fly and eat it literally at your feet. Great fun to watch! Even if you get rejected you still see some big fish very close so it keeps you on your toes. It wasn't long before Karen caught a 20" brown unassisted on her second day of fly fishing. A monumental achievement!


Adrian was fishing behind us the whole time picking off fish on a sparkle dun. That is also a lot of fun. We fished until 1 p.m. probably landing 7 or 8 between us and ate lunch. After lunch a cold front came in and we hit a little private pond. Adrian hooked a huge fish when we got there but it broke him off on a high speed run for freedom. Karen had a nice big fish on for quite a while but it to foiled us right at the bank. We decided to take out the Titanic which is a leaking 10' john boat and try our luck. Adrian nailed a nice fat rainbow and we broke off one more and the fish just quit biting, probably due to the weather. We finished up the day in the Shoshone canyon catching some little guys on dry droppers. Karen's cast had gotten noticeably better! She seemed much more relaxed and at 6:30, after 11 hours of fishing, when asked it she wanted to put on another fly she said yes! A very good sign. Now Adrian has a fishing partner! The first couple days are the hardest and Karen made it with flying colors. I hope she can get the enjoyment out of fishing that it has given me!  Enjoy the pictures!

September 1st

Don and Brad Oberto came up from Colorado for an extended father and son fishing adventure. They fished the Wind river canyon for a couple days prior to fishing in Cody. The canyon is very demanding fishing, generally tossing big streamers or nymph rigs all day, so I thought they might enjoy a fun day of fishing dries to rising fish on a small stream. It's just more relaxing.

We arrived early and though we caught fish from the start, they weren't giving it up easy. We have had some rather large rain storms lately and with the rising and falling barometer and clearing water the fish were in slow motion. The wind was relentless all day. We tried a dry dropper rig on one rod and a double dry on the other. Don caught the first couple fish on the droppers. Brad managed to get several fish on either an ant or a sparkle dun. This is how it went for the first half of the day. Brad would go in first with the dries and Don would clean up with the droppers. Patience and persistence paid off. Both guys caught some nice fish all morning.

While we were eating lunch the PMD's started emerging and the fish became much more active. The water is cool and at perfect flows and if you got a nice natural drift the fish would respond almost every time. It was a lot of fun! Brad made some really nice casts to some tough fish tucked back in close quarters. That is what fly fishing is all about! Very satisfying fishing!

As we headed up stream some clouds began to roll in. It looked like snow. This was the signal for the caddis to start getting active. Fish began rising all over and we just picked one and made some casts until they took. A very good time searching out the risers and picking them off. Both guys did real well. The river can definitely fish better but considering the weather we've had recently and the 15 mph wind all day, I think they did very well. Many fish were caught and released and most were on small dry flies. A great time. Around 5 p. m. the rain began to fall. Snow was falling up on the top of the ridge and the wind started getting cold so we called it a day. After a short hike back to the truck we headed home. Don and Brad both fished real well together and any time fathers and sons can spend some quality time together out fishing, it just doesn't get any better! Enjoy the pictures.


Tight Lines!


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