The Otter Goes for Steelhead

Walt Mueller, Jr. is one of Montana Fly Co’s expert fly designers, and is known as “the Otter” because he gets to spend so much time on or in the waters of North America. Walt travels frequently to the Great Lakes area to steelhead fish the tributaries there.

On a recent trip, he and friends hit the Clearwater River in Idaho. The Otter was generous enough to share some photos from his recent experiences.

Here is the trip story in Walt’s own words:

The main river went from 2600 cfs up to  21,600 cfs within 36 hours! But the good news was that it brought a lot of fish up river to the “River X” and for a few days we had great fishing. My best fish was about 36 inches at 16 #. Most fish averaged about 12 # overall, with very few under 10 #. The best fish was by Art Pine of Travis De Boer’s group; a big buck at 38 inches and 18 #, on our last day of fishing. Can’t say enough about Ralph Rhodenbaugh of North West Jig Company, who made the long drive down from the Seattle area and then hosted me for the first few days. I am deeply indebted to his hospitality and friendship to me.


For the main river I fished tied flies in the new MFC Otter Soft Hatching Egg style in 8 mm or 10 mm sizes, along with some MFC Otter “Pegged Soft Embryo  Egg” patterns (available through MFC in 2013).  On the first day, off of Ralph’s boat, I hooked 7 nice fish, landing 4. The very next day, in the same slot, Ralph and I hooked  only one fish!! Then for 4 days of fishing dirty, high water in both the main river and the tributary we were in, it was two fish for 4 full days while I fished alone from sunup to sunset in rainy, cloudy and windy weather. Then on Saturday, with the river still high but now clearing and dropping, I hooked another 7. These were all large fish, which somewhat soothed the body and shoulder aches. Never-the-less,the long previous week of early rising and late fishing  (4 AM rise to 6 PM return) in inclement weather made me call it a day at high noon.


Sunday through Tuesday on the River was great with good fish for two of three days. The last day,I was hammered, stomped, spanked, and just plain out-fished, humiliated, whipped and thrashed by the Travis De Boer group. Having the same eggs, same colors, same sizes, same rigging, and fishing the same runs did me no good!!, I had one hookup against 15 to 20 hook ups by Travis, his Mom, Krisie, his step-dad Art plus Travis’ wife Julie!! They took no pity on this old man! To add insult to injury, humiliation, and disgust, Art Pine offered to sell me back some MFC Otter Eggs in the correct size and color so I could start catching fish on them!! Imagine!!!!!

All in all it was a great trip, meeting many new fishermen and finding new waters to fish. I know I handed out over 15 dozen of MFC’s various Otter Sot Eggs to other fishermen, along with hundreds of loose MFC Otter Eggs in all sizes and colors to the many wonderful people I met along the river. I’ll return, and perhaps gain some of my lost talent of fishing and hookups on the next trip!! Enjoy the photos as I am and the reflections of wonderful moments on a beautiful river system with both old and new found fishing friends.

Regarding MFC’s Otter Soft Egg products, we really made believers out of many watching and fishing with us on this trip. There is no question that the MFC Otter Soft Hatching Eggs, continue to outperform most other flies or egg patterns, including on some days, even fresh spawn.

Best Regards,
Tight Lines and All Releases,
Walt Mueller, Jr.”The Otter”


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