Monday, August 8, 2016

Montana Madness

As soon as I touched down in Montana, I hit the ground running! Not really..I spent almost a day in Bozeman before trekking down to Gardiner to begin the first leg of my trip. My first stop would be 3 days fishing in Yellowstone National Park! It wasn't an easy decision as I had recently read reports that the Madison River was fishing really well. But the hunger for native Cutts drove me to the Northeast corner of Yellowstone National Park once again. Last August I experienced phenomenal fishing on the Lamar River and Slough Creek. So with the images of huge fish and willing risers burnt in my mind, I found myself headed straight to the Lamar River once again. I found it just as I had remembered, although July offered much more company (other fishermen) than I found in August of last year. In the mornings and evenings the fishing was out of control GOOD!! Especially the evenings! The crowds would thin out, the temperatures would cool off, and soon my only company became the river and the buffalo herd near by. At that moment fishing would TURN on fire!!! The afternoons were a bit slower but fish could still be had. I fished Soda Butte a few times on this trip to fantastic luck! The fish would readily rise to a well presented drake pattern! Great size and good fight! On the downside, I lost an absolute HOG of a cutthroat one evening on Soda Butte creek. Sitting a mere 5 yards from me in deep water the fish spit the hook after a rowdy 5 min fight. I tried everything in my power to hook him again, even returning the next morning, but no luck. Luckily there was many more fish to be had in the River and on the trip! I made stops at the Yellowstone River and Slough Creek to finish up the first leg of my journey. One particular evening I was the last person fishing Soda Butte Creek as dark was setting in. Feeling good about my good fortunes on the stream, I had a little pep in my step! It was then that I noticed an interesting scene unfold before my eyes. Out of the sky a large osprey gracefully flew down and snagged a large trout from the creek right in front of me! He circled just over my head a few times, as if to let me know, "this is how you catch fish boy." He landed in a tree just across from me and started enjoying his meal! Another day in Yellowstone and a humbling moment I will not forget! From there I headed back to Bozeman to pick up my friend for some backpacking fun in the Beartooths. 5 or 6 years earlier I had planned a trip to the Beartooths that was thwarted by high snowpack. Now was my chance to see what it was all about! Well..It did not disappoint! The scenery was unreal! The fishing was was incredible! The trailless travel was fun! And the hunger to go back is burning hot! We found beautiful vistas at almost every turn. The fish were BIG! Even bigger than I had hoped! And they would willing rise to a well presented dry of the right color. Subsurface action worked well too! In terms of a "fishing backpacking" trip, this was probably my best! I would not hesitate to put the Beartooths right on par with the Winds in terms of excellent alpine lake fishing. The trailless travel led to some sore feet, but I found it incredibly fun! We spent sufficient time exploring around; climbing ridge-lines, and one afternoon sumitting Lonesome Mountain. Every ridge and every mountain revealed absolutely incredible views of Montana and Wyoming! But all good things must come to an end, so this trip was wrapped up after 12 days of exploration and fun! It seemed like I had been gone so long, but I easily could have stayed another week or two exploring and fishing the area! All the more reason to go back!! Here is an appetizer of what happened!!! til next time..


Sunrise from our campsite

View from the ridgeline looking back into Wyoming

Storms were rolling in this day

Inlet fishing

Check out the fish wrecklessly rising

Working one in

Never get tired of this

Surreal fishing experience

Letting him run

Stacked in the outlet

Blue Blue water


Sunset shot on a clear night

2nd to last campsite

Calm mornings and windy afternoons

Hiking back out

Decided to take the trail this time instead of rock-hop

Plateau country

Lakes everywhere from ontop of Lonesome Mountain

More lakes

Looking into the Beartooths

Much of where we spent our time

Never get tired of a view like this