Monday, September 17, 2012

FISH XXI: Southwest Montana... Days 3 and 4

I spent Day 3 with my old friend John Hoover on the Boulder River. This is a beautiful little stream that meanders through classic Montana ranch lands. We had a sensational trico hatch in the morning. John and I stalked big heads that were loudly chomping the tiny mayflies. At times, it sounded like a bunch of teenagers chewing gum. That afternoon we had some wonderful hopper fishing on an unseasonably warm afternoon.

After a wonderful dinner at Healing Waters Lodge with the others from the FISH group, we exchanged the day's fishing report over dessert and made plans for the next day. Soon we retired for a restful night's sleep at this beautiful lodge which got us recharged for the next day's fishing. We were not to be disappointed!

The next day I fished with Jim O'Keefe and Bill Kemph on the Circle 3 Ranch. Here, we had what we had come for... big trout on hoppers! We started on this cold fall morning on the main Beaverhead River where we used nymphs and streamers with great success.

After the day warmed up and temps climbed headed well into the 80's, we left the Beaverhead to try the spring creek on the ranch. Seemingly innocuous, this small stream meanders through alfalfa fields and is barely visible at times. Often long grasses stretch out from the cut banks to lean over the stream. Casting can be challenging, but this is a perfect home for big trout. With clear cold water and weed banks waving in the subtle current we were fishing a classic Western spring creek. It is technical water requiring long casts, but the reward is big trout. Our largest fish was a 23" brown and an similarly sized rainbow. We also saw much larger fish and had some true heart-stoppers rise to our flies.

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