Monday, September 5, 2011

big sky country ... 5 rivers, 5 days

well, you know what they say about all work and no play .... sam and i just returned yesterday from 8 days in montana. one out, one back, and one day, saturday, of rest. nice to have a holiday to recover today, before we both get back to work tomorrow. as planned back in july, we 'evacuated' vermont the day before the hurricane and only saw it as it happened on the internet. the damage was incredible in vermont.

our house and shop are on high ground and there are no big rivers in dorset, so kit and i and the shop escaped with no noticeable changes. friends in other towns nearby were not so lucky. it will take years to get vermont put back together again even with the federal disaster aid that is heading our way.

click the pictures to enlarge them ...
we started on the missouri, floating with russ dobrzynski of pro outfitters in craig. it was for us, a day of hard fishing in big winds, but we were able to land some good size missouri river rainbows, 18-20" long, but were unprepared for the serious physical effort it took to fish a big windy river for 8 hours standing in a drift boat. phew!
and, as soon as we got off the river we had to leave wolf creek and drive about 60 miles over an incredible road above (route 348) to lincoln, where we spent the night and next day at a friend's camp, fishing the grantiers, a spring creek tributary of the blackfoot.
it was a great cabin that was moved to the site from another part of the state, log by log. it was estimated to be from the late 1880's and was beautifully dovetailed and scribed.
nice front yard
the grantiers is a small spring creek full of feisty cuttthroats, and sam managed to land a good one in the afternoon.
we caught quite a few other small ones, which were about the same size as, but slightly stronger and more fun than our local foot long rainbows. it was challenging, technical, fishing and we had an excellent guide, chad harberd, also from pro outfitters who walked us through the mile and a half stream and told us where to try and present our hopper flies. sometimes we got it, sometimes not. we all, including chad, missed opportunities at the cagey big browns that chad knew were in there. they were too fast and smart for me, but sam's cutthroat was the star of the show anyway.
that night, we moved on to philipsburg and the rock creek below.
we had a little rain, which chased off some of the other fisherman ... a nice size cutthroat above ... we then headed off to melrose, and the big hole river, about an hour to the south.
the next day, rather than fish the actual big hole (i hope to go back and float that one sometime), we fished a small tributary just out of melrose, which was beautiful, and reminded us of home, and again, sam caught the best one of the day, a nice 18+" brown.
on to ennis from there, and into the heart of the rockies ... breathtaking in every imaginable way. ennis is on the madison, and is definitely a fishing town with lots of friendly people and good food. coincidentally, there was a 'fly fishing festival' and there were boats everywhere. the river is big enough to handle them all so that you don't notice the traffic, and the fish don't seem to mind either. we had a great day with clayton paddie, of the tackle shop in ennis.

we caught rainbows, browns and whitefish and one the of the bigger rainbows coughed a sculpin into the landing net, which is a sort of prehistoric looking thing that he had apparently recently eaten.
a nice brown
another one with the proud fisherman
and sam and clayton again here with the sculpin rainbow ...
the sculpin
we floated about 10 miles in clayton's extremely comfortable sit down driftboat, and took out at the mcatee bridge. after another night in ennis, we drove up to bozeman for the flight home sunday morning.
interesting architecture in all these towns.
we had a little time to kill saturday afternoon, so we drove about an hour east to livingston, thinking we might cast a few into the yellowstone to make it six, but we were fished out and took a pass.
there were great galleries and a thriving arts community in livingston, so all was not wasted, plus the drive was incredible. shortly, there will be more photos of scenery, fish and architecture on my personal facebook page. send me a friend request if you want to see them ... back to work tomorrow ...

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