July 22, 2018
I landed in Bozeman, MT, was picked up by my good fishing friend, Charlie, and we headed north to the White Sulphur Springs area to fish some private water on some ranch land.
These are wild fish but are not fished over often (as in hardly ever), so spot and cast dry flies was the MO that afternoon. The only downside was unpacking my Sage ONE 590 and finding the tip broken and the rod unusable. I will blame me and the stupid rod tube that was never designed to be user friendly as the reason. Point of the story: look over your rods before you take a trip. Sage, build a better rod tube.
A stop back to the ranch to pick on some pond stocked rainbows and then to town for a great meal at Bar 47 concluded day one.
July 23, 2018
The drive from White Sulphur to Bozeman is pretty spectacular: massive ranches with literally thousands of round hay bales visible from the road. Hay and cattle are the way of life in that area of the world.
The drive through Bridger to Bozeman brought us to the East Gallatin River and Charlie's friend CJ doing some local guide work for us. The EG was not crystal clear, but it was certainly fishable.
That afternoon we had made the trek after the East Gallatin across I90 east towards Roscoe, with a stop at the Stillwater fly shop on the way. The drive took us to the east side of the Beartooths and into the area of the East Rosebud.
We visited a friend of Charlie's's there and then on to the Grizzly Bear Bar in Roscoe for a refreshment before bunking up in Red Lodge for the night.
July 24, 2018
After breakfast and loading up on water and snacks for the day's hike/fish south of Red Lodge, we drove towards our starting point, at an altitude of close to 7000 feet.
We packed up at the trail head for a 70 minute walk on a hiking trail to our starting point. Minus the deranged gentleman in the beat up piece of shit blue pickup, who was out of his vehicle, shirt unbuttoned, toting a long barrel .44 handgun and staring at hikers on the trail, our day was going swimmingly.
These are high gradient streams with massive amounts of water, all supplied by the melting snow. Once the snow all melts, the river simmers pretty well, creating many corner pocket/eddie type fishing opportunities for trout to rise to dry flies without hesitation. This type of fishing is not for everyone, but is'a great way to fish if you like the hike and fish angle.
Unfortunately, the water was still pretty high and fast, so we had to do some major hiking to get into areas that were slower and were holding fish.
We hiked up to the 8100 foot range before turning back and working our way out, a much easier proposition than the hike up.
Charlie pulled off the quad that day: brook trout, cutthroat, rainbow, and cuttbow. I managed a few pretty brookies on some caddis dries.
That day was pretty grueling as we put in over 14 miles from start to finish. We met a hiker with her corgis out on the trail as well. I guess you never can predict who or what you will meet out in the wilderness.
We finished up near Red Lodge and too the road east and south towards Cody. Made a stop at Tim Wade's flyshop for some flies and intel on the North Fork of the Shoshone before driving the North Fork Road to Pahaska Tepee on the east side of Yellowstone.
July 25, 2018
Was one of the worst and best days of the trip. First off, the intel from North Fork Anglers made it sound ike we could do some basic nymphing and catch fish with hatches in the evening. Then they guy proceeded to sell us 3" long stonefly nymphs and slightly smaller trailers to boot. Ummm, I didn't come 1,011 miles to chuck and duck with big nymphs on a river that was bigger than advertised.
You don't see signs like this in Minnesota.
We took the North Fork Road to Pahaska Tepee. The road is neat. The dam and the lake behind it? Stupid. Nothing like a man made lake in the middle of desert country. Not what God intended.
The river is spectacular to look at. The fishing sucked - high flows made it overly challenging, and after a day of 14 miles up and back, we were looking for something a little more reserved.
Tough sledding most of the day, chucking big rigs in water that was a bitch to wade - makes for a long day.
Confirmed real grizzly tracks, but the griz sightings in that area have been way down this year. Some speculate that the unusually early and busy tourist season have pushed the bears out of the range of human contact. Charlie and I both had bear spray on us on the NFS. Too risky to not carry it, since they don't allow anglers to carry sidearms.
We made a sidetrip to Dry Creek (note the weather brewing in the background). Needless to say, we left on our hike in sunshine and hightailed it out to heavy rain a half hour later. Things change fast in the mountains, for sure. I caught one small rainbow on my first cast before we hurried out of there.
We made one last effort to catch a few fish (more than the handful of rainbows we caught that day), and it turned out pretty well for me. I fished a pool of a NFS trib. that was a little more flat and had some pools. I quickly spotted a feeding fish at the tail of the run and picked him off with a well placed nymph pattern (Note the ardrobe change due to the rain....and some much needed karma by changing the hat).
The next pool, I was fortunate to get a hefty rainbow to take one of my nymphs.
The next pool, another rainbow.
I caught a brook trout, a whitefsih, and another small rainbow to go with those three bruisers. Good way to end an otherwise tough day of fishing. Spend the night in Pahaska before the road trip east continued.
July 26, 2018
We drove east, back to Cody and east towards Shell, Wyoming. The scenery here was awful and reminded me of why Wyoming has such a low population of people. We didn't see anything, except pain in the ass road construction for hours. "The road goes on forever, but the party never ends."
Once we hit Greybull, the Bighorm Mountains are in full view and the landscape changes dramatically. We took 14 up past Shell into the Horns....this is Shell Creek - cool little mountain stream flowing west out of the Horns.
And more GD construction that had us at a standstill. Sirius XM Willie's Roadhouse kept us in good company during some standstill time on the trip, and on up out of basic cell service range for a few days. High nountain constrction work looks dangerous as hell and certainly not for me.
Once we finally got up into the Horns, we geared up and hit the water. Fishing that afternoon was nothing short of spectacular, despite 62 degree highs, wind, periods of rain....all worth it because a hatch came off and fish started to rise.
We only had time to fish the next morning, not long enough for the hatches to get going and the fish rising, so we prospected on top, but mainly caught fish on nymphs that morning into the early afternoon hours.
It was a great way to end a fascinating odyssey across Montana, Wyoming, and ultimately I90 and back home. Unfortunately, the scenery is pretty bland once you get out past central South Dakota into easter SD and western MN.