Off the Beaten Path

Moose carcass 300 yards downstream, be aware multiple Grizzly Bears likely present in area.

This little red sign nailed to a decaying juniper fence post was the first thing I noticed upon stepping out of the car at the spot we were due to fish. I guess we have made it to Montana after all.

More water than you know what to do with. So many creeks and rivers and lakes that it makes it hard to decide where to fish. That’s where friends come in. I’m lucky enough to have a friend in the Idaho/Montana area that fishes more days in a summer than many people do in years. All that time he spends fishing has gotten him to some pretty incredible water and our plan was to take advantage of all the knowledge.

Beginning of a long dirt road

The interstate exit was just that, an exit. The pavement ended at the right-of-way and the dirt began. We bounced our way down a long, broad valley flanked by wind swept hills and watched over by jagged mountains with the pockets of snow standing in rebellion to the summer heat in the valley below. In the distance a river dressed in willows wound tortuously through the sage brush plain. Antelope dotted the land scape with the occasional glance up at our speeding car.

I think we’d found nowhere and taken a turn to further away. Other than the buzzing mosquitoes this was as good a spot as any to start fishing. By my third cast I’d hooked a small Yellowstone Cutthroat.

Caddis eating Yellowstone Cutthroat

We continued fishing with limited success along the banks. More than anything we were doing our best to dodge the prolific clouds of mosquitoes. When the swarms of biting bugs became too much we retreated to the hills. Our friend had found us one of the best campsites I’d ever been to. It was truly incredible.

Lakeside reflections

Right off the road was a small lake nestled in the hills. Deer browsed the far slopes and groups of white pelicans fished the shallows. Best of all small rings dotted the lake, the fish were rising.

Ryan whipping up some gourmet burgers

The lake was full of rising fish the only trick was catching them.We tried dries, buggers, spinners, anything with a hook that was in my fly box.. These fish had so many bugs on the lake surface it was unlikely they’d eat a real one, let alone my imitation. We did manage to hook a few, healthy looking and hard fighting fish. These fish appeared to be cutthroats of some type and according to the regulations, these were Westslope Cutthroats. What an evening! Yellowstone and Westslopes all in a few hours!

Not a bad spot!
White pelican fly-by
Sage roasted cheddarworst on a willow roasting stick, gourmet am I right??

The fishing was slow and the scenery made it all more than alright. Long slow pools with lazy currents and hard to hook grayling. Ryan managed an incredible grayling, the biggest I had seen and in a creek to boot!

Flash of blue fin
Ryan’s incredible fish
What I’m assuming to be a Columbia Spotted Frog
Grayling bend
Local traffic blowing out the river

A run in with the local young bull moose got pulses higher but after a brief moment of curiosity he headed back into the maze of willows and we headed the other way. What a spot to be lucky enough to chase fish in! An added bonus was their was hardly another person in the whole valley, we had it to ourselves (minus the moose).

Slick crossing
Sign from October of ’72
Special place

It was a special little gem tucked in a maze of public land. What a spot to fish in. Good fish, great landscape and the company was pretty good too! I’m looking forward to my next trip up!

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