Monday, May 23, 2011

The Opener

Josh and Boges admire a solid Yellowstone cutt.
The MSJ fly fishing columnist, Josh Bergan, and I got out for the MT general fishing season opener on Saturday. We fished Notellum Creek for the large, migratory cutthroat trout that are rumored to be found in the stream. Prior to this trip I'd fished the creek on three separate occasions over the course of two years, not once catching a cutt - I was beginning to think it was all a myth.

Despite the forecast for heavy rain, the long drive, the grizzly warnings and the potential to arrive only to find a muddy creek - Josh and I went through with the trip. We were confident that we had our timing right for this trip - and timing is everything on this stream - but what concerned us was that we were completely at the mercy of whimsical Ma Nature. Fortunately a cold front moved through the state last week, slowing runoff and rendering Notellum Creek fishable, with 2-3 feet of visibility for opening day.

A big cutt, a small stream and the stuff of dreams.
We worked the water thoroughly, employing various nymph rigs and covering a lot of water with gaudy streamers. The first couple of hours didn't turn up any cutts, but I'd spooked what I was sure was a big trout and Josh saw another one break the surface. Josh was the first to hook-up, a solid 18-20" cutt chased down his sculpin imitation - unfortunately an overexcited pup rushed into the water, severely spooking the fish which came unhooked. Fortunately Josh got another shot later in the day, catching two 20 inch cutts in quick succession. I was a little slow to get in on the action, but a few gorgeous grayling helped ease my anxiety throughout the day. Eventually I managed to connect with a very healthy cutthroat, a fish that was the culmination of two years of dreaming and scheming about such a moment on Notellum Creek.

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