Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August Montana Vacation

Jen and I got back late Saturday night from a week on the Bighorn River in Montana.  We had a great time with a nice group of fellow fly fisherman, about 16 or so.  The trip was booked through Scott Struif at The Fly Angler
On the way out to the Bighorn, we stopped in Miles City, MT Friday night and I gave Jen the nickle tour of the town starting with a bite to eat at the Chop House, and then the favorite saloons in the area.  Jen got the whole "cowboy bar" experience with tin ceilings, huge wood bars and lots of cowboy hats.  But the streak was broken, it was the first time we hadn't been invited out to someone's ranch to shoot prairie dogs, not that I ever accepted but it always seemed to happen out there.  I am glad we went out because the local road construction crew had decided to use the Motel 6 that we stayed at as their party grounds.  They were whooping it up pretty good all night long. 

We arrived at Cottonwood camp on Saturday and settled in for the week.  I talked to Thor and gathered a little intel on what the current fishing conditions had been, what was working and what we thought would work the next day.  The predominant hatches were hoppers, black caddis and tan mottled caddis as we had expected before coming out there.  

The week was a hot one, we had two days out there that broke the 100 degree mark, but the evenings cooled down enough so that everyone could spend time outside the "Condo" sharing stories and hanging out.  A number of former Berger Brothers employees and Alaskan guides were in our group, so we learned a bit about the interesting times they had and people they had met back in the day.  I bumped into Jim and Sharon who were out for a few days of fishing and was able to do a little catching up with them since I had last seen them.  And if you are reading this ANDERSON, Jim says he is into oil now and is becoming an "Oil Magnate."  Jen, Peter and I did spend one evening at the River Run Dining Room attached to the Bighorn Trout Shop, a fine dining establishment that served us a wonderful meal, and met a very nice guest that had also been fishing the river for the week.  It was his 27th year doing so! 

The hopper action turned up on the second half of the week, while the dry fly fishing was slow.  Big Morrish hoppers and the green or tan Rainys Hopper patterns proved to be very effective.  Indicator nymph fishing turned out to be the most productive for the week with the Tan or Grey Ray Charles #18 being the most consistent producer, along with the hothead tan sowbug.  This was the first time I had been in MT where the size of the fish caught didn't live up to their billing.  We averaged 14-16" fish, while on past trips I've caught plenty in the 20s".
One day during the week we were invited to join a small group led by one of the former Alaskan guides, Kelly, to drive out to the Tongue river to fish for cutthroats and that made for a nice break in the week as well as adding another species of fish caught to my fish list; bringing me to a total of 42 different species I've caught.  Though the drive was longer than expected (with more road construction), it offered the opportunity for us to add WY to the list of states we've fished in this year. 

The place we went to was very scenic and had plenty of fish to be caught.  It was a crazy sensory overload for me! There were elk, moose, cows, high valley's cold stream water, and lots of different hatches all going on at once.  It was your classic advertisement out of some glossy outdoors magazine that makes you day dream.  I caught mostly cuts and rainbows, Jen also caught a cutbow on top of that.  Peter pulled out the Tongue Grand Slam, catching cuts, rainbows, cutbow, and a brookie! I hope to go back to that river again someday.  

Jen and I finished up the week on the Bighorn with numbers of fish caught significantly better then the first half.  On the down side, Kelly's truck broke down, and had "forced" some of the boys to extend there vacation until parts came in on Monday for it to be fixed.  I bet they are coping with the situation pretty well. 


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