Last week a friend and I made the journey to explore a far away and somewhat unlikely trout fishing destination here in Montana. It's the type of place that you hear very little about, it's a long way from anywhere. To get to this water you have to pass by other rivers, fisheries far more famous and far more of a sure thing. The prodigious number of MT fly fishing guidebooks on the market provide little, if any, useful information on this river. There are no shuttle services, guides or fly shops on this river, we were on our own to figure out the nuances of the fishery.
We got our first glimpse of the river a few hours after departure. The water looked good, albeit it looked like more of a warm water river than a trout river - deep and slow and without a major mountain range in sight.
It was early enough in the day that we had time for a quick float to test the waters. At the put-in we could hardly get rigged up fast enough as a heavy caddis hatch had the river boiling with rising fish. Several casts later our X2 caddis only produced whitefish. As we floated downriver we were starting to wonder if there were any trout in this river. We continued to pick up quite a few whitefish (up to 19") on both dries and nymphs, but no trout. Finally after the sun dipped below the western horizon we connected with our first trout of the trip, a healthy 15" rainbow that drilled a flashy streamer in fast water. We were highly stoked to get that first trout out of the way, now we could get down to business.
Over the next two days we fished long and hard, floating and wading, stripping streamers, drifting nymphs and on occasion doing a little head hunting. We had good success for trout, although that success was concentrated to a few select locations on the river and came only after rotating through numerous fly patterns. By Sunday afternoon we'd learned a thing or two about this river and its trout, yet it hadn't been quite what we'd hoped...
That is until we decided to fish one last hole on the way home, a big run that we'd not yet fished. In that final hour of the trip and on what were essentially the proverbial last casts we found what we had come for...big browns (yes, that's plural). Look for a more in depth piece on this trip in a coming issue of Montana Sporting Journal.