Every adventure begins with an idea and this trip was no different. My wife Jessie and I got a wild hair to get lost in the backcountry and experience the wilderness while leaving behind the crowds. There is no bigger wilderness in the lower 48 than the vast expanse of Montana. The destination was unknown, but the idea took us off the grid.
Upon arriving at an end of the road trailhead we had the place to ourselves for the most part. A couple of other horse folk and a hand full of other anglers who were in the know made up this make shift community. A cool hint of fall in the air made our fireside evenings enjoyable while summer came on strong during the heat of the day. The surrounding foliage mirrored the change in the seasons, the bull trout moved further up into the system preparing for their dance, and the cutthroat fattened up for the winter. The conditions were ideal.
The first day we found ourselves tossing big leggy hoppers to hungry fish under mostly sunny skies. It is truly satisfying to make the perfect cast to a spot where you know a fish is living and then get rewarded with a rise from a beautiful wild trout. We fished closer to camp to get a feel for the river and get psyched for a full journey up the valley the next day. With great anticipation we cooked our fireside dinner under the clear big skies of Montana.
Steady rain was the first sound that I heard the morning of the second day. It looks like we brought a bit of Seattle with us, but as good Seattleites we were prepared for any weather and a bit of rain is hardly a reason to call off a day of fishing. After a steamy cup of hot coffee we laced up and ventured deep into the valley. The trail lead us through a now healthy forest that was ancient at heart, but the fires claimed its wisdom and a young budding green landscape filled in gaps. Cutting through this expanse was our river.
The cutts were not easy as I expected, but they did reward our accurate casts and precise drifts with quiet gulps. We had to make the switch to some small beatis to keep the fishing consistent for us during the changing conditions. Jessie and I fished endless pools while trading fish, sharing laughs, and feeling deep gratitude to find ourselves in the center of such a special place. These remote places exist all around for those willing and able to seek them out.
Fly fishing at its core starts with an idea, don’t be afraid to get in the car and chase yours. Oh and by the way, if you find yourself needing a bit of direction, a local fly shop is not a bad place to start.