This is absolutely one of the most fun times of the year as these giant bugs come back through the state of Montana and are feasted upon by the fish that inhabit the rivers. Big or small, everyone comes up to the surface for a taste. While the Salmonfly look like giant dangerous bugs they are actually quite harmless. Due to their size and color, they make for great photo subjects and the fish seem to enjoy them too.
I do love Spring in the Rockies! The weather starts to get a little warmer but there’s still a little nip in the air. The vegetation starts turning green as new life begins and the crystal clear air can be seen on the gorgeous rivers. The high alpine lakes are a great place to be as the runoff happens further below so the lakes stay clear. Photographically it’s a no brainer but the clarity you feel at that moment is hard to beat.
The Yellow Perch are common sport fish in the reservoirs and ponds of Montana. While they don’t normally get too big in the ponds, in the reservoirs where the food supply is more generous they can grow to be a couple of pounds. However, even the small ones are fun to fight and show off. Nighttime fishing is a lot of fun but poses certain photographic challenges. Flash is a must but even then it’s hard to get a good photo of something so small and moving about. In this case, practice a lot. These little guys are numerous and can be caught readily which makes practicing easier.
One of the aspects I love about fishing photography is that the slightest change of angle between the subject and the direction of light can have a dramatic effect on the colors of the fish. When I caught this fish it was actually a very dull silver but in the light, you can clearly see the green colors in its scales. Be ever mindful of those slight changes as they can alter your images quite a bit.
Image captured with Nikon Z50
Photography and fishing have a lot in common but for me, the biggest is being able to share those good memories I’ve made over the years with the people that mean the most to me. Both areas make it tough to find people that you enjoy either shooting or fishing with because everyone has distinct styles of craft. That’s when you find those people, you hang on to them. March is a great time to go Steelhead fishing out in Washington because the Steelhead are moving from the ocean into the rivers and upstream for the spring spawn. I’ve been fortunate multiple times now to be out their casting for these giants with my friends. On a photographic note, if you’re planning to shoot in rainy Washington in March bring two things: a flash, and a towel. You are going to get wet and it’s going to be dark.
As anyone who follows my blog will have noticed by now, I tend to fish a lot and I like taking the Nikon Z50 mirrorless with me when I do. Both of these images were taken with the Z50 due to the ease and convenience of getting the camera out of the bag and able to shoot quickly. That’s important with aquatic species especially in winter when it’s colder. Thankfully yesterday was nice and warm so I wasn’t as worried.
Winter is a really cool time to fish for Rainbow Trout as they are moving upstream towards the clear water of mountain streams to spawn in the Spring. They will continue to make this journey until they reach the stream where they were born. It’s a unique characteristic of Rainbow Trout as not all trout do this. Another unique trait of Rainbows is the changing colors of the males throughout the spawning cycle, granted the top image is of a female. They will go from the more typical “Chrome” to “Rainbow” look to the eventual dark phase and then back to the rainbow look after spawn has been completed. The variation and duration of the colors vary from individual to individual which makes winter fishing a lot of fun.
Normally after a good release, the fish swims away and these shots are missed but every now and then the individual stays put right where it was released and you can take a couple of shots. I always thought that these shots are kind of artsy-fartsy shots but when it comes to wildlife in their elements technically that’s what this is. The one thing I found to be helpful is using manual focus because trying to autofocus on the fish under the water often gets lost on the water itself.
I got this rod and reel last year and I can’t wait to put it to use again this winter season! Don’t get me wrong I’ve spent some time with it this past year but winter fishing is something special. The Rainbow Trout are getting ready to spawn in a few months and the Brown Trout still have their dark fall spawning colors. Add to all that the great winter landscape that goes with the rivers and you can have some amazing photo opps that comes with the fishing.
Well it isn’t a fall brown but it certainly was one beautiful Rainbow. He hammered the white streamer during the afternoon bite and was kind enough to pose for a couple of shots. The one key I’ve found to this arena is to use flash. There are so many people who hate using flash but at the end of the day it is a great tool to know how to use. Flash is what made that color pop and without it would have been bland.
Images captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 f/2.8 on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
Fall is officially here and in Montana, it already feels like Winter. Yes, the big storm that hit Montana did hit Bozeman but unlike Great Falls the Gallatin Valley didn’t receive nearly the same amount of snow. The mountains are coated with that beautiful white stuff which means that the water temps are going to drop and the fish are going to change color as they get ready for the Fall spawn. Brown Trout are especially sought after during this time period but it is important to use proper etiquette when holding the fish as they need the warmth of the water. Taking a fish out of the water for too long while getting a photo can be detrimental to the longevity of the fish.
Image captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S f/2.8, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film