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Leviathan

bitterroot river guidesIt’s been a while since I’ve been involved in a catch and release of this magnitude, and just being near this fish is an honor.  Our good man Jim hooked onto this hen brown trout at the end of an excellent long day of streamer fishing with Chris rowing him as a single on day two of the trip.  Steve and I were sipping beers downstream in the same run, content with our good fortune of fishing for the day.  We heard some shouts and figured something good, or really bad, had occurred.  Stroking quickly downstream with Jim hunched over the bow holding the net, they pulled up mumbling with excitement and dropped anchor.  Chris finally spatted out, Leviathan!, and I understood immediately.

Merle Big BrownThese fish are once in a lifetime to many, and some of us guides are lucky enough to see a few in a career.  Springtime and early summer on good water years gives someone the best shot at a fish like this, covering many miles throwing the junk or rolling big stoneflies under a bobber.  My biggest client fish was a couple inches less than this girl, and amazingly ate a salmon fly dry during late June.  That’s been over five years now, and I’ve personally witnessed only one other fish of this caliber, caught on a san juan a few years back by a fellow guide’s client.  No camera on that one sad to say.:((

bitterroot river guidesOur springtime fishing has been excellent this season, with lots of little dinkers like this one.  Just kidding, this fish taped 19″ but after Jim’s legit 28 incher the scale got a bit screwed up.  The rest of our prior fishing for two days was grand, albeit big water and lots of cast with the big rods.  Little dry fly activity was happening, though when your catching solid fish every few runs underneath and having a blast why bother?  Keep that elbow in, power up the backcast, and let that puppy fly!  This is the time of year to suit up for bear, and get out on the big water with us.

Fishing the Backcountry

BACKCOUNTRY FLY FISHING

Mountain BeargrassAfter months running the big main rivers like the Bitterroot, Big Hole, and the Mo, I’ve been itching to get out into the great wild country of Montana’s national forests and wildernesses to get back to the simple parts of life.  With a few days off from guiding, the wife and I loaded up the camper and the kid and off we flew to find some solitude and scenery.  The good thing about this state is one never has to look too far to find an untrampled view and clean mountain air.

Mountain CutthroatBeing someone else’s secret spot, I won’t disclose our fishing location, but really spots like this are frequent in this country.  Take the pavement until it turns to gravel, then another ten or so miles of bumps and washboards, and pretty soon you are fast approaching the base of some killer country wherever you are in Montana.  Another bit of sweating up the trail and that’s all it takes to be on some prime fishing with the place all to yourself, not to mention the huckleberry bushes loaded to the gills everywhere you look.

High mountain MontanaSo after a few days of gritting it out in our 22″ camper, sounds rough eh?, we were tickled to pull back into civilization and grab a burger and beer at the first place we passed.  Another few hours and the family and I arrived home with an entirely new look on life, happy to have the little things like showers and cell service: OK maybe not the cell service, but it does have its strong points.  So if you’re tired of seeing the same old stretch of river day after day, just lace up those beat up Vasques and hit the mountains for your own personal trout stream.

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