Thursday, January 23, 2014

Montana 2.0

Written by Jason:

So, this year I did another Montana trip up to the Beaverhead River.  This year the crew was John and Parker. We made the typical preparations: What rivers, flies, meals, etc. 

In preparation, I spent many hours tying some articulated streamers.  Fall fishing is about big browns that are aggressive and wanting to go after bigger meals to beef up for winter.  Streamers = fall fishing.  This year, since Matt (John's brother) wasn't able to come, we had to figure out a vehicle situation.  Sure we all have cars, BUT, we need something dependable, and big enough to carry a lot of camping gear, fishing gear, and food.  Somehow all those things added up to taking our work truck (dependability was a little iffy...but oh well).

Bright and early Thursday morning we left.  We picked up Parker at the park and ride in Lehi.  John started off the driving shift.  The drive was pretty and mostly uneventful...oh that's right...John got pulled over in Idaho for speeding.  Luckily, he is quite smooth when it comes to confronting authorities.  A good story about the truck having new and bigger tires seemed to be the trick to justify the speed.  The cop was actually quite nice. 

We were like giddy school children as we drove past Clark Reservoir, because the Beaverhead comes out of the dam.  We were hoping for our same camping spot from last year.  Parker isn't used to roughing it up in MT, since usually he stays at a hotel.  Sure enough our same spot was available, and no one else was camping in the area.  Aaaah, the Beeeav.

We started off fishing in town, since we had to get licenses.  The water level was low, and some type of moss monster had infected the area.  Lots of moss burgers ended up on the end of our lines.  We did ok the first day. No trophy trout, and a little slower than we had hoped for.

When we got back to the truck it was almost dark.  Insult upon injury was the truck lights were left on, sooo the battery was dead.  LUCKILY, Parker's father-in-law happened to come up the same day for fishing, also.  He came to our rescue and then we headed over to Pizza Hut for a nice hot meal.  Which was seriously amazing!!! Cinnamon sticks with BBQ chicken pizza.  

The next morning we woke up early and gave a shot to fish right at the headwaters since we had had so much luck there last year.  It was really good, and we caught some bigger fish.  We didn't stay too long, since we wanted to hit up some other sections and take advantage of the morning hours.  We fished in an area that Parker had showed us where he had previously seen some massive fish!  John and I hadn't fished this section last year, and by the appearance of it, no one can blame us.  It was full of moss burgers, BUT some amazing fish!  We ended up catching several 20" browns and a 21" also.  Up to this point, the magical "streamers" we had tied beforehand had only landed us two or three fish.  It was all about smaller streamers/jig presentations. Friday ended up being good fishing, but the levels of moss throughout the entire river definitely caused some frustration, and made it more difficult to fish.  Many of the fish would hang out under big floating masses of moss, making it very hard to even get near them.

Biggest catch of the trip

Friday night, we hit up the dam again and caught some more good-sized fish.  We tried our chances at catching a fish on a mouse pattern.  We tried right at dusk, but didn't have any luck.

Because the Beaverhead had been so much slower than we had expected, Friday night we had a pow wow around the fire and decided to travel north the next morning to the Big Hole River.  A substantially bigger river. 

McDonald's McGriddles started the day off perfect.  The Big Hole was about 50 minutes away.  The river flowed through an amazing canyon, and was very picturesque.  We were all quite excited and....cold.  Lots of layers, along with hand and foot warmers helped.  We were really excited to test out some new waters.  We quickly started catching fish, definitely nothing very big.  There were some great holes and runs, but it seemed as the morning faded, so did the fish's hunger.  Around 11, we decided we should head back to the Beaverhead and try our luck at getting some more big fish!

On the way back to Dillon, John scared us with the weather saying there was a 90 percent chance of snow that night.  We were going to leave the next morning, and didn't want to wake up to snow while camping.  We did a little hotel search on the phones, and found the cheapest crust pile in town, which was still like $50.  We reserved the room, packed up camp, and fished the rest of the evening hours.  We had some good luck near the headwaters again, with some 20 - 21" browns.  John caught a nice brown, with a good kype - which landed him the golden ticket to the double bed that night.

Golden Ticket Fish
Pizza hut was calling our name, so we had that again for dinner.  (We did have an amazing meal planned for that night though - A massive steak/roast from Costco with potatoes.)  It was amazing being able to take a nice hot shower - something i'm not used to while camping.   John got the bed that night, so Parker and I slummed it on the floor - I at least knew where my sleeping bag had been, John couldn't say the same about the bed.  I slept great.  The trip had been a lot of fun.  The fishing was definitely slower than the previous year.  We fished for a couple of hours in the morning and had some good luck again in town.  Parker caught the biggest one of the day.  We hit up our classic honey hole from the previous year, but didn't even get a bite!  I couldn't believe it.  I like the town section, because it probably rarely gets fished.  Last year, the biggest fish we caught (with exception to near the dam) was in town.  

Before starting the drive back, we hit up a place Parker raved about...the taco bus.  I was nervous, and wasn't in the mood to have diarrhea for six hours on the way home, but I gave it a chance and it was INCREDIBLE!  Parker was right.  The food was great. Oh, and it literally was an old school bus retrofitted to a tiny kitchen and eating area with benches facing the windows.  Previously, we had bought a pack of four ginger beers, with the fourth reserved for whoever caught the biggest fish.  Yep, I was the lucky man.  Unfortunately, half of it spilled in the truck while trying to eat my taco bus food.  The fish was 21" and quite fat.

The trip was a lot of fun.  Having gone out to eat at Pizza Hut twice, McDonalds three times, and staying in a hotel, we managed to do the trip pretty reasonably!

Long live Montana and the Beaverhead.  May the next time present a 25" brown in the bottom of my net...please?

Here is a video that Jason made with his GoPro

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