Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Golden Trout Timeline

7:00AM-Alarm-last minute packing. Rain gear? Of course. Tuna-Helper or Ramen? Both.
8:00AM-Big breakfast-today I will burn it off and it won't be at the gym
9:00AM-Depart for mountains-that snow looks so far away.
11:00AM-Begin hike from trailhead-already 80 degrees.
2:00PM-Realize we missed the lake's turn. Walked 5.5 miles instead of 4.
3:15PM-Too stubborn to do a 180. We are going cross-country.
5:00PM-Going cross-country was dumb. We went up 2,000' and then back down.Out of water.
5:30PM-Laura's first dirty look. Almost there. Promise. Happy B-Day by the way.....
6:30PM-Found a place to camp near water. Small victory. But, I would have preferred to sleep near trout.
Midnight-Decent storm. Do we really need three dogs in the tent?
7:00AM-Oatmeal for breakfast. Pack light for final ascent. Surprisingly, blisters didn't heal overnight.
9:30AM-Finally fishing, at snow level. Why do goldens have to be so picky?
10:30AM-First Golden. A beauty, 18"er. Orange scud. Pictures. Release. Too pretty to eat.
11:00AM-Laura's first fish. She doesn't realize that she just joined an exclusive club.
12:30PM-Head back to camp. Pack up.Downhill most of the way, but still steep.
5:00PM-Back at the truck. Tired. Sore. One of the best trips ever.

Look for the complete story in the Summer 2011 issue of Montana Sporting Journal.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fishing, But Mostly Floating

Since I had to eat my Smith River permit this spring (the river would have been at an ideal flow those days), I attempted to get a bit of that missed opportunity back by a recent float on the Longest Un-Dammed River in the US. I was hearing reports of good hopper fishing, the river was just right for floating, and I found a raft to rent.

As bad luck would have it, Saturday morning was cool with light rain. Not a great time to throw camping gear and a dog into a raft and push off downstream. And, definitely not an ideal time to expect great hopper fishing. So, we took our time in Livingston and spent some money on fancy coffee and a few necessities at Dan Bailey's.

Fortunately, the rain eventually broke and Saturday afternoon and Sunday were quite enjoyable. I had envisioned a great hatch at dusk Saturday night near our island-based campsite, but the wind killed that too.

Sunday was a sun-day, forcing Laura and me to change from wind-breakers to beach-wear. The fishing was only slightly more productive, with a fish or two on a Dave's Hopper, a fish or two on an ant dropper, and a fish on a streamer. Just nothing to get too excited about.

Fishing aside, it was an enjoyable trip. There aren't many rivers which allow you to float 30 miles in two days, camp on an island of public land, and fish without having to alter your course due to other vessels. We saw our share of wildlife, had beautiful sunrises and had views of three mountain ranges. Not too bad for a weekend trip that came together on Thursday evening.