Hello all and thanks for checking in at The O’Grady Fly Fishing Adventures. As some of you know, Cat and I spent last week on vacation in Southwest Montana; it was the first trip to the area for both of us. During the fifteen hour drive home, I reminisced about the trip and then tried to plan how I would write this blog. We had mixed feelings about the trip and I think I have come up with the perfect analogy to describe it. Last year Cat and I were talking to an acquaintance whom had lost her husband to cancer a few years earlier. Later, when we were alone, Cat mentioned how much she liked this friend and out of nowhere she said that if she were to ever die, I had permission to remarry this old friend. I sat there for a second, and even though I didn’t need any brownie points, I told her that I could never marry again because it would be “unfair” to anyone not Cat. You see when it comes right down to it, anything other than Cat would always fall short of my “now” expectations. Fly fishing in Colorado has done the same to me. Any comparison is just unfair.
I’m not sure how this ever could have happened for me, but living in P-town might be like being married to Cat. I live ten minutes from hungry and ferocious 10 to 25 inch fish. I am three hours or less away from the Dream, Spinney, 11 Mile, and the Taylor for hogs, and less than an hour away from rivers and lakes that can produce 100 fish days. So as I write a little about our time in Montana, keep in mind that my bias for P-town might show through just a touch.
Montana proved to be a mixed bag of fly fishing adventures. On our way through Montana it occurred to us that we would be going through the fly fishing Mecca of Bozeman and decided to stop at the Simms headquarters. The Simms people were fantastic and we got the quick “touron tour” and snapped a pic or two. Just being at Simms, made the next two hours invigorating. We met up with the Clark Fork just after Butte and when our lips could take no more moisture from the salivating, we stopped and wet a line. Cat started hot and landed several fish quickly and my success came late with a monstrous 10 inch cutty. After getting settled in Missoula, Cat and I went to some friend’s house for dinner. It was great catching up with Tim and Trac’ee. Thursday morning we headed up to my brothers property for some private access cutty fishing and that was when things got a little sad. The creek which normally flows at 10 to 15 cfs was nothing more than a trickle, so the rest of the day was spent in the Bitterroot valley looking for a place to fish. Fishing was good on the Bitterroot and we caught fish at every stop. Friday we took a guide trip with one of the most knowledgeable guides I have ever met. Fishing at times was good but fishing “big” water was a whole new world. Saturday was the toughest day; we headed up the West Fork of the Bitterroot and found an incredibly beautiful area but very difficult fishing. Sunday we made our way up to Rock Creek and had our best day on the water. The fish were hungry and the river was on fire, every run produced lots of fish. Monday on the way out of the Missoula area we stopped and fished the Big Hole River and we felt this river most resembled what we have here in Colorado…. so it instantly it became one of our favorites.
One of the highlights we experienced on the river happened at Rock Creek. Cat and I were fishing on opposite sides of the river with Cat about eight feet below the road behind her. I happened to look up river and I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me because I could see something trotting down the road. I warned Cat that something was heading her way and that it was big. When it came out from behind a row of trees, I could see it was a Bull Moose. Fear raced through both our veins as the Bull trotted within feet of my tiny wife. He turned and looked at her, but kept going and went down about another fifty yards or so before coming down to cross the river. It’s hard to really grasp their enormity until they trot within a few feet of you. Now to make sure I never let a great experience die easily, I think I spent most of the weekend talking in my Marty the Moose(from Vacation) voice. The highlights of the fish came from the new species of fish we caught. I caught my first and second Grayling, I caught my first and second Squawfish, and even though they got really boring really fast, we caught our first hundred or so Whitefish.
Now when Cat and I were newly married I used to warn her about the Anna Kournikova exception (If I ever met Anna, Cat would understand), but I think in the end, if anything ever did happen to Cat, even Anna would fall short and on the same note, Montana is great, but it’s no Colorado.
To sum up the trip, it was great and I learned a ton. I would encourage everyone to make the trip if they have a chance. We made pretty good connections to a really great fly shop and guide there and also have an understanding of what it takes to be successful on Southwestern Montana waters. We would love to share this knowledge and help you out if you’re heading that way. And with that being said, I sure am glad to be home and I’m ready to head to the Ark. As always, Connell, Cat, Winston, Marty the Moose, and The Drift Fly Shop want to thank you for reading…..