Montana trip......I'm baaaack! (Long report / Pic Heavy)

Discussion in 'Freshwater Fly Fishing' started by errock_22, Aug 10, 2017.

  1. errock_22

    errock_22 Professional Fuel Burner

    Location:
    Ventura / SB
    Name:
    Eric B.
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    Ranger 240 Bahia - "Lil' Mijo"
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    First off, thank you to everyone who helped me out in the previous thread. Especially Larmo, we ended up being in the same area around the same time, and it was pretty cool to exchange info real time while we were there.

    Ok, trip report. Montana is absolutely AMAZING.
    Being primarily a saltwater guy for the last 20 years, Montana was never really on my radar until I got into this fly fishing obsession at the end of last year. It also just so happened, that I had to make a business trip into Bozeman (yeah, I know, tough job ;), but don't feel too bad for me, I was home one day and had to go straight to Sacramento for a meeting, which is where I'm writing this from :imdumb:), so I made a trip out of it.

    My wife, Lora, and I flew out early last Saturday with no real itinerary other than exploring the area until I needed to meet the clients that Wednesday, and fishing with them on Thursday and Friday. Needless to say, I am beyond hooked and we are going back as soon as possible.

    Day 1

    Landed in Bozeman, picked up the rental Jeep and got settled in at the hotel (trip tip#1: see if any guide shops have hotels they have hooked up with and see if you can get a break on some of the rates). After dropping our stuff off at the hotel, we headed straight to the fly shop, ended up BS'ing with the guys there for a while to get an idea of what was in the surrounding area (trip tip #2: be cool and spend some money with them, you may get a few good tips. While we were in the store, a SUPER obnoxious guy from Boston came in, I know this because he told everyone multiple times, and kind of killed the vibe. "I just bought a house here and want to fly fish, I'm a size extra large, just give me what I need", was literally what the dude said. He then proceeded to not listen to any of the guys in there and just left dragging a bunch of shit out the door. He was there 15 minutes and it was an absolute shit storm. After we all recovered, I explained that I'm a newer fly fisher, didn't have a plan and just wanted to explore Montana and maybe catch a few fish. They happily helped my pick a bunch of flies and come up with a game plan. For this first afternoon,
    they drew me a map and sent me up a small canyon with a creek that was all pocket water. Having never truly fished a dry fly, it took me a little bit to figure out how to approach each pocket and pick my shots for a good drift. Once I got that down, I ended up picking up my first Montana trout. Pretty little wild Rainbows on Mini Chubbys. Such a blast.

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    Day 2

    Slept in a bit, being up since 3AM the day before to catch our flight into Bozeman and fishing until 10pm kind of beat us up a bit, and it was nice to get a little rest. Headed back to the fly shop for some more advice after almost dying several times slipping on the rocks with my rubber soled wading boots. I ended up buying both of us some of the Simms Intruder wet wading boots with the felt soles at their recommendation. Let me tell you, these things are freaking awesome! Like wearing Nike sneakers and you stick like Spider-Man to the rocks. This time, they sent us towards the Gallatin Canyon to explore some smaller creeks and to fish the Gallatin itself late that evening.

    Stopped by the "Mothership" since it was on the way to the fly shop. Simms headquarters in Bozeman.
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    We had to drive through Ted Turners property to get to the Gallatin National Forest and saw our first bison. Beautiful property (I think it was 200k acres!!!) and he has more bison on it than all of Yellowstone!
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    Hiked a bit and fished a small creek that was full of eager Brookies. Fished beetle and ant patterns and they were smashing it! Lots of great presentation practice and a gorgeous spot.
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    After catching a bunch of those guys, we headed up the canyon to the Gallatin itself, I couldn't crack the code that evening but still amazing to be able to fish it.

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    Day 3

    Decided to make a run to Yellowstone and fish a few areas suggested by Larmo. We drove in the North East entrance by 8AM the next morning and headed straight to the Lamar Valley. Lots of bison in the way, and lots of fisherman pressure. We fished a few spots for a while for no love and decided to explore the park instead. What an incredible experience, I can understand why this was the first and greatest of our National Parks. The scale and beauty of the park is just immense!
    We are definitely coming back to spend a few days here, one day just isn't enough and we covered a few hundred miles that day, from the NE to the NW entrance.

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    The mighty Yellowstone IMG_2487.JPG IMG_2500.JPG

    Thermal features in the park.
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    Maxed on pics.....post to be continued. IMG_2427.JPG 328F39A0-DD25-4FA8-B3C0-873C430674CF.JPG IMG_2502.JPG IMG_2504.JPG IMG_2510.JPG
     
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  2. errock_22

    errock_22 Professional Fuel Burner

    Location:
    Ventura / SB
    Name:
    Eric B.
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    Ranger 240 Bahia - "Lil' Mijo"
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    On the way out of the park, we stopped at the Madison and I fished for a bit just to say I did. I had a big fish rise to my hopper but he refused it. Still an awesome site to see in a beautiful setting.
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    Day 4
    Had a great day floating the Yellowstone.

    We were super excited to float the longest undammed river in the lower 48. It's not everyday you get to float a world class blue ribbon river.

    Our guide, Sam, gave Lora an impromptu casting lesson at the boat put in in the parking lot. She learned quick and was casting and mending like a champ. She absolutely smoked me today with fish to about 18". As for myself, I put a few smaller fish in the net, a few rainbows and a brown. But...no one could match me on the whitefish, I think I caught several million of those guys today. o_O Had a great shore lunch and Sam was awesome. Super mellow and just a fishy dude.
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    Quick dinner recommendation, eat at the Montana Rib and Chop House in Livingston. Absolutely fantastic dinner. 16oz filets, cooked to perfection, crab stuffed fried green tomatoes and nice wine. Killer!!!
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    Day 5

    Lora reluctantly flew home that AM and I had to work. Blah....:zelfmoord
    Got the work stuff out of the way and we got down to the other kind of business the next day. Float trip on another section of the Yellowstone.

    Day 6
    Fished the Yellowstone and thanks to the day before, I had the game figured out. Ended up with 30+ (No, that doesn't include another million whitefish) fish on the indicator rig. Great day with great company! Lots of pretty rainbows, cuttbows, and browns.

    My 4 and 6wt Scott Radians kicked ass on this trip. I really got to know them on this trip and was able to really open up and put the casts where they needed to be.
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    Fun fact in downtown Bozeman.
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    To be continued.....
     
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  3. errock_22

    errock_22 Professional Fuel Burner

    Location:
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    Eric B.
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    Day 7

    Talked to the guides and we all decided it was going to be a "dry or die" day", so we ended up heading to the upper Madison to fish the famous "50 Mile Riffle". Fishing was pretty tough, it turned into a wind tunnel later in the afternoon and you had to throw lasers inches from the bank. We fished hoppers all day and had a few small fish in the AM. We had a great shore lunch and prepped for the final stretch in the wind.
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    So here's a funny story, after lunch and fighting the wind....I finally had my shot. A 16-18" brown rose and ate my hopper. We all saw it. I was fishing with Sam again and he was screaming to set the hook...I literally froze. I watched him eat the fly, turn and swim away, I could have set the hook 10 times but I didn't. I had never seen a substantial fish eat a dry on the surface. By the time I snapped out of it and set, he had spit it. Sam had a mini tantrum and said, "Hey dude, that was your shot, we gotta make those count, ok?" 10-4 Sam, loud and clear. 1 minute later, the exact same thing happened with a bigger fish, except he's screaming at me to set and I swing like I'm on the Bassmasters circuit.......and I break him off on the set. At this point, Sam, who is as mellow as it gets, goes full aggro. He's screaming, "FUCK, FUCK,FUCK!!!!!!", and I'm not helping because I'm laughing and trying to high 5 him. :D

    I say, "It's ok man, we'll get a bigger one, bro hug and it will be all good". Sam grunts and ties on a new hopper. We pull anchor and row down a 100 yards, I see a fishy looking spot under a tree and fire a laser into the shade. I toss a mend in the line and see a big rainbow rise and eat it. I set the hook and its game on. Great fight, and we end up getting him in the net. Sam estimated it to be a 23-25" rainbow and the biggest rainbow he's seen taken on a dry on the Madison. It was just a slab, the pics never do fish justice but this was my new PB for sure. Guessing at a solid 4 or 5lbs. And yes, we man-screamed and bro hugged in the river. LOL

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    Caught a few more nice ones before the take out and called it a day.
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    What an incredible experience and not nearly long enough. Montana is on my new yearly list of trips and I can't wait to explore more of that amazing state.

    Thanks for reading,
    E IMG_2653.JPG
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
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  4. 02bfishn

    02bfishn Newbie

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    Nice writeup and photos, thanks. Been many years since being up there and never got to fish it. On the list for sure.

    Guess no sign of Griz? That's a good thing.
     
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  5. Brad I

    Brad I Common Sense Isn't Common Enough

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    I know nothing about fly fishing, but that was gorgeous, thanks for sharing.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
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  6. Brad I

    Brad I Common Sense Isn't Common Enough

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    Duplicate post
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
  7. Brad I

    Brad I Common Sense Isn't Common Enough

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    Triplicate post. :imdumb:
     
  8. errock_22

    errock_22 Professional Fuel Burner

    Location:
    Ventura / SB
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    Thanks! No bears this time, mixed feelings about that. I wanted to see a grizzly but only on my terms...in the car and from a couple of hundred feet away.

    It truly is a beautiful place, I had no idea until we landed. It's the epitome of what I would call "God's Country".
     
  9. colemans224

    colemans224 Member

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    Looks like an amazing trip, man! Thanks for sharing
     
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  10. DC61

    DC61 Well-Known "Member"

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    Thoroughly enjoyed your report. Thanks for sharing!
     
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  11. errock_22

    errock_22 Professional Fuel Burner

    Location:
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    Thanks guys, quite the adventure!
     
  12. tunacraze

    tunacraze Member

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    Wow! That is awesome scenery! What a great report! I'm pretty sure you are hooked.
     
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  13. the Goodlife

    the Goodlife SMILE!!!!! YOUR NOT DEAD!

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    Great write up and funny story!.. I felt like I was right there with ya.. truly beautiful place, now added to bucket list places!.. Thank you for taking the time to write this up..:cheers:
     
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  14. AhSpray

    AhSpray Assistant Gaffer

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    It truly is God's Country. Thanks for the report and pics. Looks like too much fun. Sorry about the whitefish. They can be a pain, for sure. And what's up with having to work a day in there? That just ain't right. But all in all, looks like an amazing week. Thanks for sharing it with us.
     
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  15. JoshInSD

    JoshInSD Well-Known "Member"

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    Great recap! How did those flies you tied yourself work out? That rainbow is bigger than some of the dorado and yellowtail some have been posting here lately!
     
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  16. errock_22

    errock_22 Professional Fuel Burner

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    Thanks guys!


    Yeah, whitefish keep it interesting. And I'm going to have to talk to the office about that work day.....killed my buzz for sure!

    LOL Definitely was a big one. I wish I would have taken a picture at a different angle. That fish was sooo thick it was ridiculous. Big time slab.

    Some of my flies killed it! Others, not so much, the Hoppers didn't float as high as I would have liked but I used a pretty heavy hook so they would land correctly. I need to use a lighter hook. Learning is part of the fun though, and it was still super satisfying catching some of the fish on my own ties.
     
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  17. dannykl1957

    dannykl1957 Member

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    Thanks for a terrific report and wonderful pictures. Glad you and your wife had such a wonderful trip to Montana.
    Has your wife asked for her own fly fishing setups yet?
    Where next,New Zealand?lol.

    Dan
     
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  18. errock_22

    errock_22 Professional Fuel Burner

    Location:
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    She did half jokingly ask for her own stuff! It's actually pretty cool, maybe I get to go on more trips. :D
     
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  19. wils

    wils lazy-ass well known "member"

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    GREAT write-up! Thanks for taking the time.
    I think that I threw MY shoulder out just reading along. :D
     
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  20. errock_22

    errock_22 Professional Fuel Burner

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    Thanks Bill! My shoulder is fine but my fingers definitely have tendinitis after typing all of that. LOL
     
  21. Paddylure

    Paddylure RG

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    Great read, great scenery. Looks like a great family destination next year. Thanks
     
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