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Bringing you up-to-date information for fishing around Bozeman Montana. Feel free to Email me anytime at Norbaracer13@gmail.com!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Exceptional Spring Creek Fishing

               Exceptional fishing at spring creeks doesn't always happen. For many, spring creeks are often perceived as challenging. The water is crystal clear and in many areas no deeper than ten inches. Trout see you coming from a mile away and are very skiddish. A fly line carelessly flopped across the surface will cast a shadow that could spook the lunker you're casting to. Hatches become particularly specific many times of the year and the trout are selective during feeding. Its important to understand the fundamentals of entomology before stepping into these demanding waters. There are however some factors that make spring creeks the most desirable of all the fisheries. The predictable flows and temperatures make conditions nearly ideal no matter what the weather is doing. The water is always around forty-five degrees. Life long fish that never leave the creeks grow to huge lengths. Fish migrate to these creeks for ideal spawning conditions and substantial food. Insects thrive in these year-round warm ecosystems as well. Also one of my favorite things about many spring creeks is that they only have a maximum number of rods per day. With the decreased pressure and size of some spring creeks, finding solitude and quality fishing is easy.

                Like mentioned above, some anglers feel a sense of challenge towards spring creeks. I feel the same way. While heading out for my recent trip, and even the night before, I felt extreme anxiety. I felt the pressure to fulfill my moneys worth and anticipated the amount of effort and skill I would have to put forth. I knew that prior trips left me exhausted, some with good results and others with very little success. This time around, however, I knew it would be good, maybe easy. The spring rainbow spawn is underway and for a fact the fish are stacking up at Depuys. The previous night I tied plenty of Blue Midges and WD-40's, both sizes 18-20 along with plenty of orange Eggys, which I had hoped would be all I needed. It was a beautiful drive from Bozeman to Paradise Valley, as it always is. Its a trip I will always remember as Ive made it many times before in the early hours of the day. Giant mountains loom in all directions and wildlife is all but hidden. Every turn and bend in the river is as picturesque as a Montana post card.

Marks first cast fish- gota love those!
               We pulled into Eva's hut which is the warming hut at the bottom section of the property after we paid and said hello to Betty, the property hostess. We met up with a few friends, so there were five of us all together. Someone started up the wood stove as we talked and finished our coffees. Outside a few of us discussed what was good to tie on and rigged our lines with various double nymph setups. We agreed the Eggy was the ticket and that there were plenty of midges on the water. It was 8:15 am, the weather was nice, light fog at the time with a calmness in the air. The surrounding mountain-scape was hidden by low lying clouds, like smoke. It was ideal conditions to start a perfect day in a perfect place! Eva's hut is within a few steps to the river. One at a time as we finished getting ready we all walked to the water.

First cast of the day at Depuy Spring Creek
             Like many other outings to Depuys, the first twenty minutes are almost always guaranteed good fun. Collectively we had pulled in fifteen worthy trout and it had not even been fifteen minutes. Its quiet a sight actually, to see how the fish get spooked by the commotion of reeling in their buddies. Within an hour this whole stretch turned into a normal fishery again. I told Mason how this happens every time I'm here. How the fishing is incredible those first few casts then becomes a lock box allowing no room for error. Mentally I began preparing myself for the tasks ahead. After the slaying slowed down I sat my rod aside and went to see how everyone else was doing. I figured I had my fun and was in no hurry to get serious. Just while sitting on the bank watching everyone I could see trout everywhere. The football sized fish were dancing over their redds, spashing, coming nearly all the way out of the water as they rolled about spawning. The sizes of some of these fish made my heart beat faster. The sight of it all reminded me of salmon migrating upstream.

            After a few hours I was hoping I could find untouched water.  Mason and I decided to head all the way to the bottom of the spring creek, the area that is nearest to where the Yellowstone River comes in to feed it. We walked maybe ten minutes before stopping at the first hole. He went to a spot I had suggested and I went down twenty more yards to a nice spot. It was not a redd but a nice hole maybe four feet deep and ten feet long. I cast my line into the riffle up ahead and let my line drift slowly down. Sure enough, I hooked into a seventeen inch rainbow. Well this was good I thought. I was now catching fish when I knew it wouldn't be easy. I ended up catching three more hefty fish before I hooked something massive. I thought I was snagged until whatever it was sped upstream faster than I could sprint on land. My rod instantly went horizontal and before I could pull it up the fish had caught my drag so fast it broke me off. I knew that if I had kept this fish on the hook, there would be no way I could have landed it. I was using a four weight rod that day which is considered small for moderate sized fish. Each big fish I did catch became an extreme battle. Some fish were so big I could hardly "pull them" from their line in the current. It wasn't unusual to look at me that day with my rod nearly bent in half. That's part of the challenge I enjoy though, as spin fisherman have their ultralights, I had my four weight.

         Mason and I regrouped. He wanted to fish a hole so I kicked around in the water for a few. It wasnt long before I could hear splashing downstream. Closer inspection, ten to fifteen rainbows all having a good time near some redds. I walked even closer and began thinking of ways to approach in a stealthy manner. I ended up waiting for Mason so he could get in on the fun. Besides, this is the exact spot I wrote previously about having learned a life lesson in fly fishing, maybe this could teach him an invaluable lesson as well. I have a short pep talk and let him try first. My novice friend casts and casts again until his flies land above the fish. His casts are great and at first the flies land a little short, behind the rainbows. It wasnt long until his line was rolling right through the sweet spot. Sometimes the indicator goes under, Mason sets the hook. He's either hitting bottom causing the strike indicator to go down or the hook is coming out of the fishes mouth. I couldnt help but noticed the power he was putting into the hook set. Its easy to let adrenaline overcome the finesse needed. I even mentioned that he was going to rip the hook right out and I could tell he was getting impatient. Something wasnt right when he didnt hook up after plenty of perfect casts. The fish were still there clear as day, splashing about. Mason brought his line in to inspect his flies. The look on his face when he realized he was fishing with no hooks, only line, and that he had a fish on but set the hook so hard it broke his line, was priceless. Im sure that he learned something here, as I did last year, that will make him a better fisherman (see A Day at Depuys for my lesson learned). Its critical to "feel" on the hook set when fishing for trout. These were heavy trout and Mason was using 5 and 6X tippet which is only two to three pound test line.

         With so many fish under my belt already I headed back to Eva's hut for some lunch. I met Chris when he offered me a local IPA in a green can. By now everyone else was sitting around the table trading flies and cracking beer tops. We were all hooking into fish and it was only noon. I could see out the window all the trout that were moving back up. More and more were splashing around the creek now. It was nice to warm up next to the fire but I was itching for another tug of war with a beastly trout....to be continued!


  1. Your blog has always attracted me and I love reading your fishing blog. It is really very impressive. Thanks for sharing.
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    1. You're very welcome John, I'm glad you enjoy it :) Fish on!

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