Tuesday, August 21st
Stopped in to Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop and spoke with our guide coordinator Rick Marcum. He was very helpful in getting me oriented to fly fishing in the Missoula area. Rick made some great suggestions on where to fish and what flies to use. Also met flyshop owner Brendan Bannigan who is originally from Atlanta, GA. I forgot to ask Brendan if he thought there were more Rock Creeks in Montana than there were Peachtree streets in Atlanta. Everyone working at the fly shop was quite friendly, knowledgeable and very helpful throughout the two weeks I was in town. It’s the kind of fly shop where you feel that they truly care about you and your fly fishing experiences.
Traveled to the headwaters of the Big Blackfoot River today to fish in the backcountry a bit. The Bob Marshall/Scapegoat Wilderness in the Lewis and Clark National Forest is known for it’s Grizzly Bears so I packed the pepper spray just in case.
The river looked just like I remembered it from years ago. Lots of big boulders and lined with pine trees along the way. The water was so clear it almost looked like there was no water at all. Beautiful colored stones on the river bottom.
Water temp was COLD! 49 degrees at the end of August? That was a surprise. Air temp was 60 degrees and the sky was overcast – perfect fishing weather!
Started out slow but found a pool that held a good number of fish. Caught a 16” Cutthroat on a nymph rig for the first fish of the day – not bad at all!
My next fish hooked was about a 14” Cutthroat and as I was reeling him in a HUGE Bulltrout tried to eat him off the hook. I was so hoping for a two for one upgrade! That Bulltrout must have been 28” long! After all the fish calmed down a bit I spied another 16” or so Cutthroat and presented my streamer to him. After a number of drifts the Cutthroat approached the fly and just as he was about to eat it the Bull Trout came back out and took it from him. Five seconds… that was all it took for that fish to turn downstream, rip off 150 feet of line and backing and then say goodbye.
This is what a Bull Trout looks like (courtesy of the Flathead Valley Trout Unlimited Chapter) seeing as I was not able to land the beast.
Fished up the river for the afternoon catching a good number of Cutts between 10 and 16 inches. Some on dry flies and some on nymphs.
I saw what I think were three Merganser ducks hanging out together on a rock in the middle of the river. Walked out on a game trail and back to the parking area.
One last look down at the river from the trail above.
Drove back to Missoula through the Big Blackfoot corridor to check on some good spots to fish for the coming week.
Got back to Missoula a bit before dark and ate dinner at….. the Iron Horse brew pub… again!