Fly-over country. I’ve heard a lot of places called fly-over or drive-by country by the unimaginative. As though all you need is to look out the window at 80 and you can tell everything there is to know about the area. A spot that is best to get through on your way to somewhere else. I hope people keep thinking that way, ’cause it will leave all of these spots to the rest of us. More and more I’ve been trying to take my time on road trips. The destination doesn’t have to be the only stop, there are plenty of things worth seeing along the way. With a little research and some help from a friend or two, you can even find some gems that are full of rising fish, cold water and some solitude.
With the price of rental cars hitting absurd numbers ($1500 for 5 days???) and flying being a general pain in the ass, I decided to drive to Montana for my stream restoration class and luckily enough, a friends wedding. In a completely random and incredible coincidence my class for work and a friends wedding were the same week and about 4 miles apart. Talk about the stars aligning or a glitch in the simulation, but I’ll take it. 16 hours and 1,000 miles due north and I’d be there. The redeeming quality of the drive is that it goes through some great trout country, not in the classical sense but in the brushy desert creeks full of rising trout kinda way. The sort of country that people generally drive through on their way to one of the nearby national parks.
I have never had the chance to fish for Bonneville Cutthroat Trout before and this side-of-the-interstate-creek would give me that chance. Of all the southwestern “desert” trout (Gila, Apache, Colorado River and Bonnevilles) this was the last I hadn’t had a chance to go after yet. Driving in there were only people off-roading and no one fishing, which had me hopeful and worried. Hopeful because no one was fishing and nervous because maybe there was a reason no one was fishing. As a tried and true AZ trout fisherman I ignored all hatches and put a grasshopper fly on. Turns out this was the right move, by my third cast I had caught my first small Bonneville.
The first fish of the day came on a hopper fly that I had gotten while fishing with a good friend who has since passed on, a bitter sweet moment. I’m sure he was cheering on the hook-up like old times and it was good to get a cutthroat on one of those flies.
Just another reminder to take my time, take a break and check out what’s out there. Somedays the exit ramp equals rising cutthroat trout, don’t miss out!