Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bighorn river fishing trip days 3-5

This post is sort of a continuation of a previous post regarding my recent trip to Montana to slay some trout.  I broke the trip up into two posts because the first two days were just myself and my friend Mike, whereas the next 3 days were with 16 additional people, yes, 16!  A bit of history for the trip: the first year was just me and my friend Brady, the second year was Brady, Eric, and myself, (later that year we also did Brady's bachelor party on the river with about 15 people), the third year we expanded the group to nine, and this year it was 18.  Extrapolating to next year I suppose we'll have 50-some odd people and we will take over the town of Fort Smith and hold it ransom!

But really 18 people wasn't bad.  We rented a big house near the river and the logistics were pretty simple: let a few dads buy all the food and rent enough boats for everyone.  After that everyone was on their own and it worked out ok.  In retrospect we probably should have smartly paired people who had fished with those who hadn't, but it's too late now.

After some quick muscle memory exercises of trying to avoid capsizing the boats or run into each other we were off and fishing.  I've never had much luck fishing from the boat unless with a guide and this trip was no different.  In 3 days I think we landed a handful of fish in the boat although we did hook at least a dozen.

Over the course of the first day 16 out of 18 people caught fish, which is pretty good since at best half the people actually do this whole trout fly fishing thing more than this one time a year.  And the two who got skunked had never done it before.  A quick message to those two:  in my first entire summer of fly fishing, here's how many fish I caught -- 0.  Yes, 0.  Seven years later I finally know what I'm doing, at least to some extent.

Clif at Lunker Hunt had a great first day and first fish and managed to lock up the Big Fish competition, which earned him some whisky and a ridiculous cigar.  Not bad for your very first fish on a trip and Clif's first wild trout caught on the fly (he's unfortunately a bass guy mainly).  Here's his evidence, which is good for him since no one witnessed the miracle.

We also had a competition for smallest fish, and to make it interesting and to force people to care, we had a punishment pot for catching whitefish.  $10 per fish.  Then after I caught six of those damn things in one day I instituted a $30 limit per person.  In the end the pot was something like $150, and again someone's very first fish of the trip (I think) won the pot.  But mind you, every smallish fish was measured for the rest of the trip but as Clif said, 8" was untouchable! In fact that's the smallest fish I've ever seen on the Bighorn.  In years past 14" or so was the smallest I've seen caught.  Not bad, huh?  Frank won the pot (not with this fish though):

Costly and shameful fish:

Normally for this trip which we have been doing in May, we camp on the riverside.  But this year since we moved it up to March it didn't seem like a good idea to camp in rain/snow/cold so we booked a house, which was great.  I brought up a bunch of fly fishing videos for entertainment at night and we didn't even use the pooltables or fussball table or other fun things.

But we did use the trap thrower one morning which was a ton of fun.  Most of us were hitting a couple when we got lucky until Jack showed us how to actually do it, then we started hitting most of them.  It was pretty amazing!

My dad managed to catch something I had never seen before, and was actually the biggest fish of the trip.  The biggest fish award was for trout only and my dad should be lucky I didn't make him pay the pot for this ugly thing (sucker):

And some of the other people who caught fish and who I have image of with fish are as follows.



Brady (left) and Me (right) with one of many daily doubles:



Jerry with one of his first fish on the fly ever:



John also brought along an old school cane pole that was left in the attic of his house and I strung it up on the last day to see if it was possible to catch fish with it.  I was a little surprised to find out that it was and it was pretty fun!  Here's a pic and there's some video content below:

And finally, a fun little video I threw together.  It nicely documents how the trip devolved every day from morning fishing into intoxicated fishing.  I intend to play around with some more videos (I have a ton of footage) that I'll post later, but here's what I have for now.

More pics to come.  Stay tuned....

And thanks for reading!

I love you Montana.


  1. I like how jerry and chad hold fish the same way.

  2. I hope your tongue in cheek about the whitefish and sucker. I love both while trout fishing, maybe more than the vaulted trout. Native, wild, great sport.