Western Montana August 2018

firehuntfish

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It was another epic trip for us to our second home in southwestern Montana. There is nothing like mountain air, cold rivers, and no traffic to clear the mind. Catching a few nice trout on the fly never hurts either. The snow pack in Montana this past winter was at 150%, so all the water from the smallest streams to the biggest rivers were fishing well. We have fished out west for many years during all of the summer months and each time of years has it's own positive aspects, but for me, nothing beats a good hopper bite in the late summer. August did not disappoint us this year.

We floated the Clark Fork, the Blackfoot, the Big Hole, and the Missouri on this trip, and all of these rivers fished extremely well. I also wade fished Rock Creek, Mission Creek, Fish Creek, and Flint Creek with equal success on the smaller waters. For the most part, it was a hopper-dropper game with the chance to fish a single hopper by early afternoon. I had 2 browns hooked that would have easily made that 24" riffle dragon status, but I failed to land either one... Regardless, we had good numbers of fish each day, and I had many browns that ranged from 16-20" almost every day with a couple very respectable rainbows mixed in as well...

I fish quite a bit on my own, but I always try to book a few days of guided float trips during our visits. The outfitter that I have fished with for 5 years in a row is Joe Cummings with Classic Journey Outfitters based in Missoula. I don't hand out endorsements for fishing guides easily, but I would not hesitate for a minute to recommend Joe and CJO if you want to fish with some of the truly finest all around guides in the west. Anyway, here are a few of the highlights from my trip....

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Missouri River Rainbow
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Solid Missouri River Brown
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Another respectable rainbow from the Missouri
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Big Hole Brown
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Blackfoot Brown... "A river runs through it"...

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A few more nice Clark Fork Browns....

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A great "small water brown from Flint Creek
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Gotta match the hatch...!
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The Falls at Skalkaho pass between Hamilton and Philipsburg, Mt.

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The canyon section of the Missouri River, Craig, Mt.
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Remember the movie the "Untouchables" with Kevin Costner and Sean Connery? This is the bridge where they shot the scene with the raid on Al Capone's whiskey shipment coming from Canada. This bridge is actually on the Missouri River in the canyon section.
 

Ridgewalker

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Those are some mighty fine trout! Man am I jealous!
Back near the beginning of time even a little prior to Joe’s Hopper, I would use dry Muddler Minnows for hopper imitations. They worked great! Today they make those excellent unsinkable foam hoppers that float higher and hold up longer even to big browns’ sharp teeth.
Looks like an excellent trip!
 

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Congrats on the trip! Some great scenery and fish!
 

gillettehunter

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Looks like a very successful trip. Did you have much smoke from fires? Which river is your favorite? Thanks for sharing.
Bruce
 

PHOENIX PHIL

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Some beautiful brownies!
 

firehuntfish

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Looks like a very successful trip. Did you have much smoke from fires? Which river is your favorite? Thanks for sharing.
Bruce

Thanks Bruce! There was a slight haze from the California fires almost every day. The last two days we were on the Missouri fishing out of Wolf Creek/Craig. Those last two days were the clearest, and the best for scenery photos..... Thankfully, Montana was relatively fire-free this summer. There was one fire up in northwestern Montana near Glacier, but they had the season's first good snow up there the day we left. I would assume it put out whatever was burning.

Naming a favorite river is like having a favorite child... I love them all in their own way... The big rivers like the lower Clark Fork and the Mo' fish the most consistently, but it's not always about good fishing. For scenery alone, I think the Blackfoot would be my first pick, and then the Mo' in the canyon section....
 

PHOENIX PHIL

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Thanks Bruce! There was a slight haze from the California fires almost every day. The last two days we were on the Missouri fishing out of Wolf Creek/Craig. Those last two days were the clearest, and the best for scenery photos..... Thankfully, Montana was relatively fire-free this summer. There was one fire up in northwestern Montana near Glacier, but they had the season's first good snow up there the day we left. I would assume it put out whatever was burning.

Naming a favorite river is like having a favorite child... I love them all in their own way... The big rivers like the lower Clark Fork and the Mo' fish the most consistently, but it's not always about good fishing. For scenery alone, I think the Blackfoot would be my first pick, and then the Mo' in the canyon section....

Do you ever fish in Idaho? At one time I knew the Henry's Fork and South Fork fairly well. I also fished in YNP a fair amount....hard to be Slough Creek in the NE corner.
 

firehuntfish

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Do you ever fish in Idaho? At one time I knew the Henry's Fork and South Fork fairly well. I also fished in YNP a fair amount....hard to be Slough Creek in the NE corner.

Hi Phil, I have actually fished around southeast Idaho more years than Montana..... I was introduced to fly fishing for trout in Idaho about 20 years ago. I have fished the South Fork of the Snake quite a bit, and then quite a bit up at Henry's Fork and the Fall river which is a trib of Henry's.... Also fished the Madison on the Quake Lake end frequently which is not too far from the Henry's Fork. I fished the Yellowstone once, and the Fire hole once, but both were pretty crowded when I was there... Too close to the park I think..?

My sister had a little place in Driggs, Idaho for years that was centrally located to all of that water. You also had the Snake out of Jackson Hole, the Gros Ventre, and the Green Rivers all just 20 minutes over the Teton pass. I also had some best wade fishing in the Teton river right in town there in Driggs... Man, that brings back some great memories. Talk about scenic rivers.... I've never seen anything more breathtaking than seeing those Tetons in your face when you come around one of those ox bows on the Snake on a clear day!
tetons snake river.jpg
 

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