Blog Posts In Chuck Ravetta

What offseason? BHL's Guides are Fishin!

For BHL's guides, the offseason has been over for quite sometime and spring training is in full swing.  Chuck R. spent January through March chasing trout in New Zealand and is now in West Yellowstone.  Later this week Lanette will join him on the Firehole and Madison Rivers.

Rick R. (pictured above) and Chuck P. have been working out on the Big Hole, rowing through high water and making mental notes on the whereabouts of this years Hogs.  According to Rick, fishing has been fishing, with some days producing a lot of fish and some days proving to be tough.  He and Chuck have been throwing mostly streamers this week.

The rain/snow continues to hit the high country, but so far the river is holding up with decent clarity.  The Beaverhead has reportedly been fishing very well also.

Montana: Setting the Hook

Montana: Setting the Hook
Written by Will Peterson On August 16th, 2011 courtesy of starting six ski blog

I arrived in Montana determined to become a better fly fisherman.  While I had done some fishing before, the trips had been sporadic and I was still very much a beginner.  By working at the Big Hole Lodge, I hoped to learn more about casting, tying my own knots, and being able to fish without the guidance of more experienced fisherman.  The lodge is located on the Wise River, perfect for wading and developing these skills.  Though there were plenty of guides around, they were guiding during the day and therefore could only offer verbal advice.  I found a teacher in Lanette, the Big Hole Lodge's long time chef and a seasoned fisher.  From knots and casting, to fly selection and approach, Lanette helped me through the entire process.  In fact, she was with me on the Wise River when I caught my first fish, and she made sure I followed tradition by kissing my fish before I released it (chased with a nip off the flask). 

After gaining some experience on the Wise River, lodge guide Chuck Ravetta suggested I tag along on a float trip on the Bitterroot River that Wade Fellin was guiding.  The Bitterroot, located about an hour and half from the lodge, is smaller river than the Big Hole, winding through with the Bitterroot Mountains off in the distance.

As we put in to the river, we knew we were in for a great day

As we started the trip we floated along right bank…

And immediately felt a strong tug, I began to pull in the line and was surprised to see a fish much bigger than expected on the line.  As I continued to pull in line, the fish fought hard to break free.  After a few minutes I was able to get the fish into the net, and it turned out to be 18″ cut throat trout!

As we continued to catch fish, the day was shaping up to be one of the great ones. While I was taking a break from casting, I saw a huge bird headed our way. As it flew over, it turned out to be none other than our nation’s symbol, the Bald Eagle.  The eagle landed just above us and opened its wings to dry them out.

Wade got into the action too.  A little break from guiding, can bring a lot of joy.

As temperatures rose into the 80's, I hopped in the water to do my best fish impression

As we finished up the day, the mountains in the distance made a return trip during the winter for a bit of skiing a strong possibility.

Trapper Peak, Bitterroot Mountains

Overall the day was a great success, with nearly 50 fish landed and countless others just missed (mostly due to slow reflexes on the setting of the hook). Tons of fish, great company, beautiful weather, mountain views, and great food…who could ask for more?

On the way home, we stopped by one of the guides' cabins for a few beers.  While there, I had the chance to tie my first dry fly. The fly tying practice is one of precision and patience -carefully building each aspect of the fly, first adding the body, then the thorax, and finally the wing, considering in each step what a fish will be viewing from below.  While there are thousands of types of flies that can be purchased, constructing a fly allows for variation of more common flies and a more personal connection with the sport.  As I tied the fly, in a small log cabin, within view of the Wise River, and supplies surrounding the work space, I felt like a craftsmen trying to crack the always changing mystery of the fish.  The process was difficult, as fly-tying is an art that takes years to learn and even more to master, but with the guidance of Wade and Matt I was able to produce a fly that I hoped would look appealing to the fish.

Wade tying a Spruce Moth

With a little help from Matt, I also finished a Spruce Moth.

A few nights later, I had the chance to use my fly.  I was nervous to use it, afraid that I would get it stuck in a willow or the knot would come lose, but I went for it.  After a few casts, I suddenly saw a fish coming up from the depths of the Wise straight towards my fly.  I held my breath, waiting, and hoping.  I saw him go for it, and set the hook and felt him pull back just as hard.  I gave the fish some line, and tried to contain my excitement, as I slowly worked the fish in.  I lifted the fish out of the water and couldnt help but smile…my Montana goal of learning to fish had exceeded my own expectations.  As I stood in the river, with the sun setting behind the mountains, I understood the addiction that comes with this sport and knew that fishing would remain a part of my life.

Later that night, we grilled a couple brookies that Matt and Wade had caught out back. As we sat around the fire, talking about the day, and listening to the fish simmering over the fire, I listened to Matt and Wade, both longtime guides, tell stories about fishing, compare their approaches on different rivers, and tell of the improvements they saw in clients.  While their stories may have been different, both talked with an unmistakable passion for the sport.  This sport wasnt just some way to make a living, or take up the weekends, it was a way of life. I couldnt help but wonder how soon I could get back out to Montana.

School of Fish: Hebgen Lake with the best in West

When the ice releases its grip on Hebgen Lake near West Yellowstone,  fly fisherman and trout alike eagerly await the midge hatch. On the north shore the water is clear and fisherman line the gravel banks in search of cruisers sipping midge pupae.  The fish are literally a few feet off the bank. Once you've spotted the fish, it's up to you to cast your size #20 emerging midge pupae nymph six feet in front of the fish.  As he nears your fly, you gently tug your line 3-5" to get his attention. There is no indicator and you cannot see your fly at all. This past week, Lanette Evener, chef at Big Hole Lodge, ventured over to West Yellowstone to join our guide Chuck Ravetta in the midge fishing action.
Here is Lanette's trip in her own words:
"I was lucky enough to witness two sight fishing masters on the north shore of Hebgen Lake this weekend.  Chuck Ravetta and John Juracek, fishing buddies and West Yellowstone locals, have fine tuned their techniques and the fishing world has taken note. During our first Hebgen expedition, Chuck plucked four fish off the bank while I observed and made a vain attempt to mimic his technique and bring up a fish on my griffith's gnat.  I don't have a lot of experience sight fishing with a nymph without an indicator, so I was a little apprehensive. I had two strikes on my gnat that morning, but no fish. Chuck was winning and I was getting schooled!

Sunday morning we met John to start our day. He was already rigged up and as we watched he marched down to the shore and pulled a trout out on his third cast,  fifty feet below a bait fisherman. Needless to say, the bait fisherman got up and left and we had a few more yards of shore to ourselves. Chuck said, "You rig up and I'm going to watch John". Feeling a bit intimidated as I watched John pull out another fish, I tied on the ole' griffith's gnat, still not confident about tying on a nymph. My stars must have been aligned, because twenty minutes later I pulled out a nice 15" fish on my dry. The experts responded, "nice!"  Almost an hour went by and I didn't have another strike. Meanwhile, John caught an 18" rainbow, then handed Chuck the nymph he was using. They suggested I  give it a try. With more instruction in my ear, I managed to catch a sixteen incher within 15 minutes of casting the nymph. I was sold.

I watched her approach my fly, hoping she was on to it because I didn't know exactly where it was.  As I was a holding my breath, she snapped, turned and flashed, I felt the tug on my line and gently, but with determination, lifted my line and I had her. I couldn't believe it. Now, get her to shore and don't embarass yourself by farming her and breaking her off! I brought her in and John released her. High fives and smiled all around. But it wasn't until Monday morning when I went back by myself with my loyal Jack Russell, (Kali), and caught two more nice bows on John's nymph that I realized maybe I had gotten over a hump in my fly fishing career. That nymph's a keeper and dang it, I wished I had brought my camera... cuz nobody is gonna believe me!"

Bring On the Sunshine!

Big Hole River Fishing Report: 6/3/11 Weekend Outlook

  • Water Flow: 4,750 cfs
  • Water Temp: 46 degrees
  • Visibility: 10-12 inches
  • Fishing: good with streamers
  • Weather: snow today, sunny and 70's through the weekend

The new rain has brought the water level up, but fishing has still been good underneath. Early yesterday morning we had high winds, a furious hail storm, and then heavy rain on the upper Big Hole.  The rain showers continued through the day and into last night.  This morning it is snowing at the lodge!   The weather forecast is calling for sunny skies and temps in the 70's through Monday...bring it on!  The warm weather will definitely bring snow down and the river will most likely rise significantly by the beginning of next week.

The sunshine ought to bring on the caddis hatch and top water fishing could be very good this weekend.  Streamers have been working well in this nasty weather and should continue to do so in the mornings before you tie on a dry.  Good luck!

Happy Birthday to our chef, Lanette!  She is over in West Yellowstone celebrating with our trusty guide, Chuck Ravetta.  They plan to get out on the Madison today to bring in her new year.  Enjoy your next trip around the sun, Netter!