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ted4887 06-25-2013 10:01 AM

Montana Recap
We left Tuesday afternoon to drive out to Montana so that I could pick up my brand new drift boat and fish some famed western trout waters. We arrived Wednesday afternoon, and after picking up the new boat, we were ready to fish.

I learned a lesson on this trip, a very valuable lesson. That is: The weather can change at the drop of a hat and you better be ready for it.

Wednesday night after driving the 19 hours to our destination, we wanted to fish. And so fish we would. We saw some clouds starting to form over the mountains, but really weren’t very concerned with them. With the help of a local fly shop, we chose the stretch of water that would be the maiden voyage for my boat. It was short piece of water that we were told we could “row out of in 30 minutes if you need to”. Sounded good enough for both of us, and so we were off. In 15 minutes we were geared up and on the water with too many rods, reels, and fly boxes like any good fly fisherman would be.

Not more than 30 feet from our launch, I smacked into a bridge piling. “My bad, just getting a feel for the oars!"
About a 1/2 mile down the river, and a gust of wind came. It blew 40, 50, hell maybe even 60 mph straight down the river. It was absolutely howling, and there wasn’t much we could do about it. Next came the rain, and it wouldn’t stop. This wasn’t your normal summer rain shower. No, this was much more than that. This was Mother Nature having too much Starbucks and deciding to drop trou right above us and let fly. The other fun part of the storm was the lightning. Watching lightning strikes hit in close proximity of you is never a good feeling. It’s an even worse feeling when you’re in a wide open meadow, standing in the river with a 9’ long graphite lightning rod in your hands with nowhere to hide. For the next two hours we would get beaten up by wind, rain, hail, and hide from lightning with no other option but to keep on truckin’. By the end of the float, hypothermia was starting to become a real worry. Hands were numb, teeth were chattering. After a hot shower and warm meal, we finally started warming up.
There were fish caught that night to spite the rain, hail, and lightning though. Nice fish too! Unfortunately, I was too cold and wet to have the motivation to take pictures. I was rowing downstream as quickly as I could muster to get back to my car.

Thursday found us waking up to some more wind, and after the cold miserable night on the water before that, we wanted something easier. We were looking for Cuts within a reasonable distance. With the help of some of those same fly shop guys that felt bad for us for the night before, we got hooked up with some stream info. This adventure would send us deep into a mountain wilderness in the middle of grizzly country. The guy in the fly shop warned us about it, but said “I wouldn’t worry too much about them today. They probably won’t be out, and I reckon the chance for a mauling if you see one is probably only 25%”. Oh, well in that case, let’s get over there!
We arrived to some seriously majestic water that was still a bit high from the snow melt, but running very clear. This water didn’t just hold cutthroat, it also had brown trout, rainbows, grayling, and the famed bull trout. Unfortunately, we would see none of those species on this trip up there. None the less, this was an awesome hike through the woods.

This time we had a chance to watch the storms develop from a safe distance. We were more than happy to not be in the boat that day.

Friday morning was our last real day to fish before starting the long drive home. We wanted to do an all-day float, so we started out at the dam next to our campsite, and proceeded to float 9 miles downstream in what could be considered a drift boat circus. This is likely the most fished water in all of Montana, and for good reason. At 8000 fish/mile with a legit chance to catch monster trout, why wouldn’t you want to fish it?


A friend with a football sized rainbow

A few of my own fish.

There is something romantic about the way a Missouri River rainbow trout fights. They’re big to start with, but the amount of fight these fish have in them is unbeatable. They’re just one long slimy torpedo with an engine that doesn’t ever burn out. These are the kinds of fish that will snap your rod for fun and laugh about it. They’re bullies. But they’re damn fun to catch!

Overall, this trip was excellent. We learned many new things including how to row a drift boat, how fast weather can change in the mountains, and how to fish a western tailwater stream. Now it’s time to plan for the next trip out west.

I want to finish by thanking everyone who took some time to give me some tips for the trip. They definitely helped. While we didn't get a chance to fish everything we wanted thanks to the time restrictions and weather, we couldn't have had a better time out there. For those that helped, just know that you always have a spot reserved in my boat if you make it up my neck of the woods for some smallmouth, musky, or Driftless Area trout. Thanks!

mcnerney 06-25-2013 10:15 AM

Re: Montana Recap
Great to hear your trip went well and you guys survived the maiden voyage and the valuable lesson learned about the Rockies wx and how fast it can change. From the photos it looks like an awesome trip, congrats! Enjoy that new drift boat, you will always remember that maiden voyage! :D

Your description of that storm reminded me of a motorcycle trip the wife and I were on several years ago, we were up on the Beartooth Hwy (hwy 212) south of Red Lodge, MT. We could see this huge black storm to the west coming out of YNP so we pulled over and put the rain suits on just in case, but still it looked like we were going to hit the Chief Joseph hwy and head downhill before it hit.........needless to say we didn't have a chance, it hit us so fast and hard that I was afraid to pull over as the visibility dropped to less than 20 ft, I was afraid if we pulled over we might be hit by a car from behind, so we just endured the torture from the driving rain and hail and finally made it down to the bottom safely.


jpbfly 06-25-2013 10:54 AM

Re: Montana Recap
Great report and pics...thanks for sharing:thumbsup::secret:going to dream of your majestic water tonight:)

fredaevans 06-25-2013 11:08 AM

Re: Montana Recap
"What's the weather like there in Southern Oregon?"

Sounds like a simple question, but what's going over my head will be in SW Montana in about 36 hours (that kind of weather = 24?). Last week and change have been 'total say what?' Today, maybe 75 and showers, tomorrow in the low 80's, Thursday .... mid-high 90's.

Haven't had my yard irrigation system on in two weeks; no need :(

PS: Great looking boat/rig.

dean_mt 06-25-2013 12:16 PM

Re: Montana Recap
Good job Ted! Great recap and I'm really glad you got a good on the Mo...and sorry about the bad one, that was a really bad one! The Missouri is notorious for the wind, even on bluebird days most sensible anglers will avoid it if the forecast calls for wind. Aside from not being able to cast at all, you can find yourself rowing very hard for 20 minutes and then look at shore an notice you haven't moved! That sucks.

A friend of mine did a Missouri leisure 3 day float trip further downstream earlier in the week. Their shuttle driver told them they got lucky and missed the golf ball sized hail earlier that week. Just imagine being pelted with freaking golf balls!

And that little looks very familiar, but then again most of those deep woods streams look like that. Hmmmm....

ted4887 06-25-2013 01:52 PM

Re: Montana Recap
Thanks guys.

Yeah dean_mt, the Missouri definitely showed us it's ugly side with the wind. That was the reason we went into the Mountains on Thursday instead of floating the Mo. Woke up to 20mph winds, and decided that we had dealt with enough of that the night before. We had heard that downstream a ways from Craig there was bigger hail. We got pretty lucky that ours was only pea sized. And even that still sucked pretty bad.

The wind on that river is something else though. It started getting irritating when I thought I made a mistake not bringing my 9wt to punch flies through the wind with. The 5's and 6's were fine most of the time, but other times all we could do was try to lob the rigs 5-10' out from the boat and hope for the best. It wasn't pretty at all.

And you were right about the creek name. :)

mcnerney 06-25-2013 09:51 PM

Re: Montana Recap
Ted: I know what you mean about wind, we have our fair share down here in Wyoming. The last couple of days has put the brakes on any thoughts of fly fishing as it has been gusting to 40 mph. But the best part is that you made the trip, caught some fantastic trout, picked up a beautiful drift boat and now have the maiden vogage under your belts and have a story to tell for the rest of your lives, kudos to both of you!

ted4887 06-25-2013 11:35 PM

Re: Montana Recap
Thanks Larry!

mattneeds 06-28-2013 02:49 AM

Re: Montana Recap
I saw you guys floating out there! Funny that's your boat because I specifically pointed it out and said how cool it looked. I think I was floating both days you were actually, that wind storm was absolutely horrible! It took me just under two hours to forward row the last mile of our float. The streamer fishing was pretty great though.

ted4887 06-28-2013 12:12 PM

Re: Montana Recap
Ha, thanks Matt! Small world huh? Next time you me us out there, stop by and say hi.

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