Saturday, April 2, 2011

Montana fishing days 0, 1, and 2

For my first real post after the big Montana fishing trip that I recently returned from I will outline the first two days, plus the first evening (hence day 0).  So the trip got out to a pretty rocky start.   I booked a flight from Eugene to Portland to Denver to Billings and was understandably a little nervous about something being late.  Well, my flights were all fine but Mike, who I was fishing with for the first two days to catch some extra fish and hopefully figure out the river to some degree for all the newbies coming up, missed his connection in Minneapolis.  Billings being the major hub it is didn't have another inbound flight from MN for 10 Mike was a bit late.

Since I had 10 hours to blow and the river was only 1.5 hours away I figured I might as well go check in at the fly shop and throw my waders on and go toss a few.  I drove down to the river, got geared up, and began walking downstream to a couple places I have fished in years past.  There have often been fishing rising along a certain portion of the river and I headed there.

Once I got down to the spot I was heading for I took a look and was happy to see that just as I had hoped there were quite a few fish rising very frequently.  I pulled out my camera to get a couple shots and maybe some video and of course the camera wouldn't work.  This problem had occurred before: the camera turns on but the screen is blank and the pictures come out black.  I tried the old "hammer" fix by hitting it a few times to no avail.  Great, no camera for the next 5 days.  Ugh.  Thus the lack of pictures...

Anyways, I fished the pods of rising fish that were there.  I hooked two pretty quickly but lost them both.  That managed to spook most of the fish and only a few remained rising and they were too sparse to bother fishing, so I packed up my stuff and headed further downstream.  I spent the next hour or so tossing nymphs and hooked another couple fish and actually landed one.  There's something about this river that I find always requires me losing a bunch of fish before I get dialed in and start actually catching.  I'm not sure what it is or what I change but things do and did improve.

Once dusk was nearing I headed back to the car to go pick Mike up at the airport.  He got in around 11pm so we got back to our cabin at around 1am.  Plenty of time to get a little sleep!

Mike had previously convinced me to pull out my wallet to pay for a guide for two days.  It didn't take much convincing and was quite a lot of fun.  Our guide was Dave, who had been guiding on the Bighorn for nearly 20 years.  He supposedly was the guide (or one of them) who took out the veterans on the "healing waters" program that was highlighted at the fly fishing film tour a year or two or three ago.  Anyway, he definitely knew where all the fish were and was a bit of an entertainer to boot.  He's the one rowing the boat and making funny comments in the video in my previous post.

I wasn't sure going into it if I was going to be comfortable with a guide watching over my shoulder, netting all my fish, tying all my flies, etc.  But it was actually pretty nice.  After the first half day or so Dave figured out that we really only needed/wanted him to show us where to go, what to use, and to row the boat and have some fun with us.  We ended up taking 3 pictures the first day and decided we'd better get the camera out more on day two for some of the nicer fish.  But here's Mike and me holding some of our nicer fish on day 1.

Day two didn't yield all that many more pics either, but here's Mike with one nice fish:

To wrap up days 1 and 2 I want to give some props to Bighorn Dave our guide.  I suspect Mike and I would have each caught 10ish fish each day on our own and would probably have struggled to figure out where to fish productively the first day.  As it went, though, we estimated something like 60 fish between the two of us on the first day and the second day was a little slower and we guessed only 40-50 fish.  So we only manged to catch about 100 fish the first two days.  Thanks Dave!  If you want to hang out with Dave just call up the Bighorn Angler and ask for him as a guide!

That's it for days 0-2.  My apologies for the lack of pics here.  I have many many more for the next 3 days because I got everyone's pics before we left and have a couple hundred to choose from.  Come back and check out the blog soon for even more goodies.

I'm working on a bunch of videos too.  There are some good hook-ups caught on tape as well as some bloopers and maybe some drunk talk.  It will be good stuff.

Keep your eyes on Clif at Lunker Hunt because he was there too and will surely have some good material.

See you soon...


  1. My video is fully edited and uploading as I type this.

    If you really wanted to thank Bighorn Dave, you should tell people how to find him.

  2. Clif: thanks for the advice. Editted and done.