The Road Less Traveled: Montana - A Fish Report

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Fly Guy Dave
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The Road Less Traveled: Montana - A Fish Report

Post by Fly Guy Dave » Fri Jul 28, 2017 6:20 am

I have been to Montana several times and have fished the big name rivers that get a lot of ink in the guide books (The Madison, Gallatin, Missouri, Beaverhead, Ruby, et al) but this trip I wanted to try something completely different. I wanted to fish the smaller streams, the ones that you don’t hear about, the ones that don’t have a path trodden down along the banks where tons of other anglers have walked before you. So I broke out the DeLorme and looked for the small streams that feed the big rivers and hit the road. My first stop was in the Bitterroot drainage where I fished the East and West Forks of the Bitterroot, but also several small, relatively unknown streams as well. It’s hard to pass up an evening caddis hatch with actively rising trout, coupled with a spectacular sunset

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The first small stream I hit was down a long and dusty road and was definitely grizzly country, so I grabbed my bear spray and my three weight and fished upstream. I encountered many sweet pools like this that had tons of 8-12” trout in them that would eagerly inhale any attractor pattern that I would cast.

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The second stream was a bit brushier and it was harder to find spots that held fish…

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but persistence paid off for nice 14” cutts like this one

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I fished in this drainage for a few days and then eventually moved over to the Sapphire Mountains and the streams there. Good fishing and plenty of wildlife viewing as well.

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Can you say “habituated?”

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Big horn ewe

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Rubber Boa

A few days later I wandered a bit more south and east, into the land of Mordor…or at least it looked like it.

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I wandered around and eventually found myself at a high mountain lake on a Sunday afternoon. A lot of people were there at first, but by four o’clock me and two backpackers were the only ones left.

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After the wind died down, trout started to rise all over the lake, so I entertained myself by catching 10-12” rainbows and cutts that responded well to a griffith’s gnat.

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Lots of beautiful wildflowers were still in bloom

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And a still steaming “calling card” left behind by one of the locals

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I moseyed about a bit more and found this stream that oxbowed through a big valley. The ranchers that owned the land were OK with anglers that followed the rules and didn’t mess with their stock or property. Again, no other signs that other anglers had been there and sweet corner pools like this one

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This stream delivered up lots of brookies and rainbows.

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The last stream was much further west and is a tributary of the Clark Fork (specific, huh?). Cold, clear water, free camping spots and plenty of rainbows and west slope cutts that responded well to a “hatch” of stimulators

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This cutt was 17” and right after this one, I hooked into one that was even larger, but the current was strong and the fish fought hard and it bent the hook on my fly 45 degrees and swam off. Damn! Great fish, but cheap hooks.

And then I headed home through Oregon to see some family members, the sun setting on another fabulous trip to the Treasure State.

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Last edited by Fly Guy Dave on Fri Jul 28, 2017 7:38 am, edited 2 times in total.


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Re: The Road Less Traveled: Montana - A Fish Report

Post by TahoeJeff » Fri Jul 28, 2017 6:42 am

Photobucket is now basically holding people's pics for ransom.
Four hundred bucks a year for third party hosting?!?!?! W T F
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Fly Guy Dave
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Re: The Road Less Traveled: Montana - A Fish Report

Post by Fly Guy Dave » Fri Jul 28, 2017 7:25 am

TahoeJeff wrote:Photobucket is now basically holding people's pics for ransom.
Four hundred bucks a year for third party hosting?!?!?! W T F
I haven't had any issues with them until now. B@$t@rd$! I fixed it by going to a new photo hosting site. S'all good now.
"Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man." --Jeff Lebowski

Some pics of native salmonids: http://flyguydave.wordpress.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Jason
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Re: The Road Less Traveled: Montana - A Fish Report

Post by Jason » Fri Jul 28, 2017 1:25 pm

Looks like an awesome trip! Beautiful fish too. I always enjoy your reports, thanks for posting.

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Re: The Road Less Traveled: Montana - A Fish Report

Post by maverick » Fri Jul 28, 2017 1:39 pm

Very cool TR, great trout photos, and love the wildflowers shot, any more of them Dave? :unibrow:
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Re: The Road Less Traveled: Montana - A Fish Report

Post by Troutdog 59 » Fri Jul 28, 2017 3:29 pm

Great report and beautiful pics of the trout Dave. Thanks for sharing as I also have enjoyed your posts over the years. I do have to ask, do the bows and the cutts in the last stream interbreed? I would think they would, but the Cutthroat in the pic looks pretty pure. Again, thank you so much for the wonderful post.
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Re: The Road Less Traveled: Montana - A Fish Report

Post by Fly Guy Dave » Sat Jul 29, 2017 5:52 am

maverick wrote:Very cool TR, great trout photos, and love the wildflowers shot, any more of them Dave? :unibrow:
That's the only one. Sorry! :(
"Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man." --Jeff Lebowski

Some pics of native salmonids: http://flyguydave.wordpress.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: The Road Less Traveled: Montana - A Fish Report

Post by Fly Guy Dave » Sat Jul 29, 2017 5:56 am

Troutdog 59 wrote:I do have to ask, do the bows and the cutts in the last stream interbreed? I would think they would, but the Cutthroat in the pic looks pretty pure.
This was the first time I have ever fished there, but all of the rainbows and cutts I caught looked very pure. However, I have fished places like Rock Creek in Montana many times, which contains both cutts and rainbows and I very seldom catch any cuttbows. They seem to stick to their own kind for the most part. Why, I have no idea.
"Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man." --Jeff Lebowski

Some pics of native salmonids: http://flyguydave.wordpress.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: The Road Less Traveled: Montana - A Fish Report

Post by rhyang » Sun Jul 30, 2017 8:02 pm

Sweet !

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Re: The Road Less Traveled: Montana - A Fish Report

Post by giantbrookie » Sun Jul 30, 2017 10:20 pm

Gorgeous fish and a great fishing adventure.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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