On sunday evening, my Dad and brother had left for home, and it was time to put together a plan for the rest of the week. My fishing bros Garret, Cody, Undie, and I had a rough plan to drive to Southwest Montana to fish on monday morning. Only problem was that Garret and I had no Idea where Cody and Undie were. Cody was out of cell phone range on a weekend camping trip, and Undie was in Idaho at his sister’s place steelhead fishing. He “didn’t know exactly when” he would be headed back to Montana. So Garret and I headed far up the Bitterroot to the West Fork on monday in hopes of some uncrowded water and some good dry fly fishing. Uncrowded yes….good dry fly fishing… not so much, only moved a handful of fish on top. The water was what I thought too cold and fast, not enough slow stuff where the fish like to eat skwalas. We saved the day though by getting into an fast and furious streamer bite in the last mile of the float.
Garret with a big-jawed Cutthroat.
Photo By Garret
Also had a small herd of elk cross the river in front of us, pretty cool to see.
On the drive back to Missoula we got a call from Cody saying that he was on his way back to Missoula as well. Undie was still going to be in Idaho for a couple more days. We meet up with Cody back in town and made a plan. With the Clark Fork and Blackfoot being high and cloudy (We had fished the Bitterroot non-stop lately) we decided to hit the road for Dillon, MT in the morning. The plan was to fish the Big Hole and the Beaverhead. When we arrived the next morning the Big Hole was high and dirty, with less than a foot of visibility, even with bright sunlight penetration. We knew there are some big browns to be caught in this river, so decided to give it a go and throw big nasty stuff all day. It turned out to be slow fishing but sometimes you win some and lose some.
Streamer fishing the Big Hole
That night we camped next to the Beaverhead at a hidden campsite that Cody had found before…a great spot.
The next day we got up and opted to wade fish the Beav. It turned out to be the right call as the fishing was good. Lots of brown trout stacked up in the deeper pools and runs. Nothing too big was brought to hand but a bunch of respectable 13-17 inchers.
We were running low on food and supplies so we decided to drive back to Missoula late that afternoon. The next day (thursday I think) we floated the upper Bitterroot looking for some more dry fly action. It turned out to be a pretty good day on top, with a good number of nice sized fish coming to the surface.
Cody with a good Cutthroat on a big dry.
The Upper Bitterroot. Photo by Garret.
It was a good day of fishing shared with some great friends. By this time in the story it’s thursday evening. Only 3 more days left!
Undie by this time had arrived back in Missoula, he was all burnt out from steelheading in Idaho. For good reason, he had landed a great fish over on the Salmon.
I had got the opportunity to pick up a couple guide days on Friday and Saturday, the first ones of the year for me. On Friday the Bitterroot was significantly higher and dirtier than it was on thursday, and the fishing was tough. The clients still caught some fish on dries, but you had to work for em big time. On Saturday the sun came out in the afternoon and they fishing turned out to be solid. We got into an awesome Gray Drake hatch where the fish went on a feeding frenzy for a short 15 minute window. Had some pretty decent stonefly fishing as well.
Jamie with a beautiful Cutty on a drake.
Jamie and Latham, all smiles on vacation.
Latham’s fat dry fly rainbow
I was relieved that we had better fishing than the first day and definitely some cool dudes to have in the boat. It was a great spring break and some much needed time away from the rigors of school. Now there is only a month left before finals so I’m limited to weekends to fish (If that). Time to finish strong so I can enjoy the best time of the year…summer.
By the way, had these two swimming around in the backyard yesterday. Love them greenheads.