Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Home Water

Whether it's a golf course pond, or a blue ribbon trout stream, we all have local water that satiates our thirst for a quick fix. There's something special about getting to know a body of water intimately, learning her many moods and what makes her tick.

When I lived in Flagstaff, Arizona my home water was Oak Creek, and after moving to the Grand Canyon I frequented Bright Angel Creek. I spent countless hours with these beautiful trout streams, falling in love in the process.

Now that I'm living in Bozeman, Montana my home water is the Gallatin River. She's the girl next door, an easily overlooked and underrated trout fishery just west of town. She tends to be overshadowed by her more glamorous neighbors: the Madison to the west and the Yellowstone to the east. I've fallen hard for her, she's a beautiful, complex freestone river that has everything a guy could ask for. I want to explore every inch of her, from head to toe. The curves of her lower valley call to me, but it's difficult to overlook her tight, canyon mid-section and of course there's no denying the surprises that her upper meadow reaches hold.

I've decided to make a commitment to the Gallatin this summer, she's certainly deserving. Yes, she's convenient, but more importantly I enjoy spending time with her. She understands that our relationship isn't exclusive, yet doesn't hold it against me.

Right now we're still in the honeymoon phase, things are new and exciting, but I have no reason to believe that it won't continue like this forever. With the longer days I've been getting out on the Gallatin 2-3 times a week after work, as well as on weekends. Recent outings have regularly produced a score of fish per rod (of course many are whitefish), including some nice browns in the 14- to 17- inch range and numerous rainbows. The fish are taking dead drifted stonefly nymphs, pheasant tails, shop vacs and soft hackles with reckless abandon. Baetis are beginning to pop and some small stoneflies (nemoura?) are inviting a bit of surface action on the lower river - rumor has it there is even a bit of skwala stonefly activity on the lower river as well. Streamers are taking trout and will weed out the whitefish, but expect to lose some flies to underwater structure.

I'm not usually one to kiss and tell, but then the Gallatin is no secret. I've had to share her with others - bait fisherman even - that's just the way it is and I've come to terms with it. Of course I like to think that she doesn't divulge her deepest secrets to just anyone...

Where's your home water?


  1. I've had a few home waters throughout my life. It started with Rock Creek outside of Missoula, then the Yampa through Steamboat, then the Rio Guadalupe and Rio Grande in New Mexico. Now I call the Roaring Fork and Frying Pan my home waters. It looks like good fishing water pretty much dictates where I live.

  2. This is hilarious - I've had the same relationship with the Gallatin down to the female analogy (it's definitely a sexy female river). I really felt like I divorced her last summer when I moved. I wondered how she'd react when I returned - scorn? Warmth? Now you're moving in on my ex?! Weak.

  3. Kara ~ It sounds like you've lived in some beautiful places! We're both fortunate to have access to great water, residing near rivers that people visit on vacation! I'm with you, good fishing water seems to dictate where I live, it's why I'm in Bozeman. Some might say our priorities are out of whack, but I'd have it no other way.

    Josh ~ I thought you were over her man, my bad. So how did she receive you?


  4. I've had the great fortune to call several streams and rivers home waters myself, and I would have to call Oak Creek my home water now, as I live in Flagstaff. I fell in love with that deceptively complex stream immediately, and enjoy spending time exploring its diverse runs and seeking out its elusive Browns.

    I suppose the river I will always look back on as my first home water is the Metolius River in central Oregon--a truly beautiful spring-fed river with native fish to match, and still the river I cherish the most when thinking about fly fishing.

    Will, I've only fished the Gallatin sparingly in the past, but what a fine river to call home water!


  5. No worries Will. It was my decision. I think we're on good terms again.

  6. My homewater is the mighty Farmington, in CT.

    Best wishes for a fishy spring.