Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Annual Great Trout Tour Part 1

Anna Riggs and I just concluded our third annual trout tour of Wyoming and Montana. We started the tour in Wyoming, and finished in Montana covering much ground and three rivers in our seven days of fishing. We started with a hidden gem located on a private ranch in the Bighorn Mountains, we then spent three days on one of the west's best tailwaters and finished off on a classic western freestone. What follows is a photo essay on our trip:

Let's start with the unnamed private ranch:

Day One was beautiful... hot and dry with only a few clouds late in the afternoon. The grass was deep, the bugs aggressive and the fishing sensational, especially in the evening. We caught quite a few chunky browns and rainbows from 14-18 inches on hoppers and hopper/droppers.

Stranded... now I have to back down and try and cross this fast stream once again!

Anna unfurls a loop in a stunning canyon stretch.

This fella had to have my hopper two inches from the canyon wall. He had already ignored 1 foot, 6 inches and 3 inches before he ate! Maybe it was that osprey overhead!

Day Two was overcast with the air cloyingly humid. As the day rolled on more and more clouds arrived promising certainly rain, but also violent thunderstorms.

The clouds began by only spitting a few drops, but that would change.
I fished as I muttered, "Ominous".

...but the fishing thankfully remained awesome... the storm rolled in, the wind increased and our success on the surface stopped. I switched to a dead drifted streamer twitched at the end of the drift. I was soon rewarded by big brown after big brown...

The 20" bad boy below was to be the last fish I caught for the day. Soon, an intense lightening storm forced us to seek shelter in a shallow swale and eventually forced us off the river. It was a great day, if a bit scary!

As intense lightning began to crash around us, Anna said, "What do we do?" I sought a low spot away from the river and trees, pitched our rods flat on the ground away from us and found a slight depression. We went prone, kept low, and prayed. Winds of 60+ mph blew limbs and debris at us. Lightning struck trees near the ranch buildings (we were later to learn, the power was zapped as well as a cow and a bunch of squirrels. Although we had quickly chosen our haven as far away from any big trees as we could, they still were dropping all around us. The tree pictured below dropped about 20 feet from our fox hole and a big cottonwood went down 100 yards away. Frightening and awesome display! We soon were off the river and in town for summer at a smokey bar. the lightning crashed we repeated the mantra:

The next day, the river was badly swollen from the storm and a bit off-color. We tried a few streamers in the morning with little luck, so we evacuated at mid-day hoping to make the Missouri river by dinnertime.

Next... The MIGHTY MO!

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