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Big Sky and Big Fish

June 13, 2010

I’ve always loved to fish.  My dad and aunt showed me how long ago during summers in Mammoth Lakes, CA.  Over the years despite school, war, kids, good times and bad I somehow found the time.  Oceans, streams, rivers, creeks, lakes, ponds; it didn’t matter.  Later in life I learned about fly fishing and the excitement of fishing was elevated to a whole new level.

The ability to cast isn’t that hard. With a lesson or two, along with some practice, most anyone can do it.  Selecting the correct replica from thousands of possible insects in order to entice the fish and presenting that fly in the right place in the correct way is what makes it really challenging.

Fishermen debating the best places would be endless and pointless.  I favor Western rivers not only for the caliber of the fishing but to see God’s spectacular work.

Montana is known as the “Big Sky Country” and if you’ve been there you know why.  If you haven’t, treat yourself and go see it.

This trip started a week ago when a dear friend and long time fishing buddy picked me up in his incredible TBM850.  Two hours and 17 minutes from Santa Maria we were in Driggs, ID and a couple hours drive from there is Dillon, MT, home of the great Beaverhead River.

The Beaverhead isn’t a big river and, if you looked down at it from the highway, you’d think it was just another little steam.  You’d be very wrong.  The Beaverhead is home to some of the finest Rainbow and big Brown trout anywhere.

We were guided by Dick Sharon and Cory Harrison working with Frontier Anglers.  They provided small drift boats to float the river and are not only experienced but really fun to be with.  These guides fish nearly every day so they help those of us with a limited amount of time get up to speed on which techniques are currently working.

The predictable unpredictability of June weather is proven nearly every time we go but, with the correct gear, who cares.  It can be sunny and then hardly without notice you’re pelted by rain.  Unlike humans, trout don’t mind clouds and rain.  Interestingly we saw fish feeding when a cloud went over and then immediately stop when the sun came out.  On the other hand, when it’s warmer and sunny the hatch begins and the trout show themselves by coming to the surface to eat the yummy protein filled bugs.

With most of the weather wet and cold, nymph fishing provided the most success and to see and hold this brightly colored brown is a special treat.  This fish and all that we caught we’re carefully handled and return to the river.  Catch and release is one of the aspects of fly fishing that draws me to it.  You can enjoy nature first hand without destroying it.

Rainbows, as I said, are abundant and I took these sequences of photos showing a Rainbow attacking the fly underwater, flinging itself to get rid of it, and finally coming aboard to be photographed.

The week went by fast and as, much fun as it was, it’s always nice to get home.  Gear will get cleaned, sorted, and put back in the fishing bags for the next trip.

Our next adventure will be in August when the family will join us in Idaho where I will begin passing on the wonders of fishing to my grandsons.

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