Welcome to Montana Trout Fishing!

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

Monday, June 30, 2014

Living in the Mountains

          Good friends of mine are selling their beautiful home in the mountains near Sheridan, Montana. I've spent numerous days on their property, and after realizing how special it is, I  would like to share it with the readers of this blog. The first few months after I moved to Bozeman, I was taken to a great home in the Tobacco Root Mountains. Before I ventured the gorgeous drive from the Gallatin Valley to Sheridan I was told how the house looked, where it sat, what it oversaw, and the abundance of wildlife. I remember how excited I was to finally see it, spend time there, to look over the Ruby Valley and enjoy the delightful sunshine. It doesn't surprise me at all that they chose this location and this house. The property itself is eighty acres, subdivided into four twenty acre lots. A trophy bull elk was taken two hundred yards off the porch one year, along with plenty of pronghorn, moose, mule deer, and coyotes. No wonder I enjoyed going out there when I could. There are four mountain ranges within view and several historic towns, including Virginia City, within a short drive.

         This would be a great house for corporate retreats or a seasonal home to spend the summer in. There is year round access. The property is ninety miles from Bozeman and Yellowstone International Airport. Renowned fly fishing waters are only twenty minutes to an hours drive. These include some of my absolute favorites, the Upper/Lower Madison, Ruby, Yellowstone, and Gallatin rivers. Yellowstone park is also a short drive away. Two miles from the driveway there is access to Beaverhead National Forest, excellent for hunting. I shot my first mule deer last year in these mountains! With all that space you could set up an archery or skeet range, great for sighting in your rifle too.

Cabin section of the house
         The spacious house is pretty isolated. No dogs barking, traffic sounds, or loud neighbors having parties, except for the cowboys next door having a good old country bonfire. Really though, you wouldn't even see that as the house is tucked away nicely. While walking in the house for the first time I noticed how big everything was. Huge bedrooms and living spaces with windows looking out over nothing but vast views were hard to miss. The second thing that stuck out to me was the kitchen. Its rustic and has a lot of character. Its very unique, having knotted hickory cabinets with washed copper panels. It goes well with the wood floor and wood burning stove. Outside there is a large deck that covers most of the perimeter, it too looks over a perfect view of the Ruby Valley. There are a few small outbuildings for storing any toys one might have and a gazebo too! Another cool feature is the "cabin room", which is a good sized portion of the house that is, well, a cabin! One of the front doors takes you into this original structure (back from 1978), which also has a wood burning stove and two utility sinks. It was used as a woodworking shop but I could easily see someone making it a comfy living space or rec room.

Winter view of the Ruby Valley
  Heres a few details in case you or someone you know may be interested

Main level includes: one bedroom, kitchen, dining area, living room, full bath, laundry room.
Upper level includes: two bedrooms, family room, two full baths, extra room

        If you or someone you know is interested you can contact Cindy Morris at 406-209-1104. The listing number is 199110 at Coldwell Banker RCI Realty. Id like to see someone who really enjoys the outdoors, the solitude, and of course the fishing, to have an opportunity to see this great offer. The price is listed at $585,000, which really is a bargain for anyone looking for a place like this.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Exceptional Spring Creek Fishing: Part 2

Continued from previous article "Exceptional Spring Creek Fishing"


              After relaxing in Eva's Hut for a solid thirty minutes, the whole party agreed to head upstream. My hauling arm was burning for more fish. How could fishing be such an upper body workout? Netting a dozen or so lunkers on light tackle is how! Besides the usual neck and shoulder pain from high-sticking so much, nearly all day, I was going to feel sore in all the muscles of my right arm. No matter how tomorrow was going to feel, I kept pushing on for the moment. The weather turned for the worst (not terribly bad but not good either) and consisted of a steady, but light, downpour for the rest of the day. Since leaving Eva's hut we drove up the road and fished a few spots until we pulled into one of the best sections of the whole stream. We parked near a small bridge that confines a large culvert that the creek flows through. Downriver directly outside the culvert, one of the largest and most beautiful trout holes exists. I always take my time and work a few patterns through it but have never hooked up there. I gave the other guys the opportunity to find their spots on the upstream side of the bridge while I fiddled around looking for my twenty pound trout in this seemingly bottomless pit, dark with thick vegetation.

             I struck out below the bridge and joined the others. The stretch consists mostly of tight bends and thick bush surrounding it. From the bridge where we parked to the end of good water is merely a half mile or so. Within those boundaries, subtle trout lies lay. Luckily, I had "leap frogged" amongst the other fishermen and landed at a sweet spot. I remember this particular corner last time I was here, fishing with Mark. He did a pretty good job at cleaning it up then but now it was my turn. Mason, standing belly deep in a spot within sight from me just upstream. The hole has two tight turns and a small overflow of whitewater before it gets washed into deeper water. I don't recall the hole being deep, instead, the transition from the riffles into the feeding zone is a subtle one. The only change in depth is give or take six inches. The whole scene didn't particularly scream fish to me, I knew it was worth my time though. First four casts, to my certain surprise, landed four worthy fish. At this point in my day I was so overstuffed with joy and satisfaction that I couldn't keep my mouth shut. Every time a torpedo trout would take my line, I'd be cheering for myself hoping someone would get a glimpse. After a few moments of joy, adrenaline and a few photos, I took a short break before I gave it another go. Cast after cast, fish after fish, some would get off and others would come in. This was 100% pure bliss for me. Although it may sound easy, let me tell you the amount of concentration I was putting forth was exhausting within itself. So, I started looking at why this little hole was such a great place for big trout. It had occurred later that day the reason most likely for my success was the natural barrier that lay only twenty yards up the creek. The fish navigated to this difficult or impassable structure and got all cozy right below it. They pretty much kicked their shoes off, dug in, and got fat from the feast of insects that were floating downstream.

"He made a few more good runs before I had him in my possession. I admired this fish briefly, appreciating every second we had together. Another worthy trout, another exceptional day."

            After possibly the greatest thirty minutes of fishing I had all year, I was ready to walk up and share my joy with Mason. He was serious, doing his thing, trying to hook as many trout before sunset. The piece of stream he was fishing was probably no larger than a master bedroom. The water twisted and turned, finally easing its tension while flowing into less gradient terrain. This less gradient terrain is where the pool formed thus bringing in the trout. I walked a ways up from there and ran into Chris, who was tying on a different fly. From there the section didn't yield many favorable options and had recently been drudged out (evidence of machinery tracks and muddied bottom). I meandered back to the honey hole I found and regrouped with Mark. Mark wasn't surprised at all after I shared with him my results; he and everyone else knew what was swimming in this part of the river, at that particular hole. I happened to nonchalantly be the first to have given it a go. We were now completely soaked despite wearing rain gear from head to toe. At this point I felt like a GI who had just survived his first battle, a little hardened to the sport you could say.We started the short walk back to the car. Trumpeter swans and geese were heard beyond the mist. Every chill I accumulated began to stick, making me tired wet AND cold. No need to worry, we were headed for more trout upstream!

A pair of bulky rainbows caught on the upper section of Depuy's

          The property has on site, a fly shop, which is as small as the warming huts. In front of the store is some great brown trout water. Here, the river is wide and shallow. Still, you could throw a stone across it with little effort and the depth maxes out just below the knee. However, every time I've fished these waters, this is where I end up last. Something to hold on to just in case the previous parts of Depuy's didn't fold earlier. The fishing, again, was absolutely ridiculous. Everywhere I looked one of us had a fish on, sometimes two or more at a time. Clouds began to give way, revealing a very surreal sunset. It seemed as though each cast I made brought the sun down just a little more, until it would be gone. Worn out from the earlier half of the day, I was trying to push myself to cast just a little further, walk just a little more. It paid off. I already had the best day I've ever experienced at Depuy's, why not make it even better?

          Well Mason and I said goodbye to Mark and his friends. We planned on going back to Eva's Hut to find the same action we had that morning.  If I didn't have two happy dogs at home waiting to go outside I would have stayed for another hour or two. We quickly hopped on the highway and back through the first entrance. At Eva's Hut we took no time getting back in the water. Mason went his way and I went mine for our last chance at another quality fish with maybe twenty minutes left in the day. I heard first, then saw, three or four cast-worthy trout. They were feeding in shallow water, dorsal and caudal fins poking out of the water. I had tied on my trusty eggy and my own variation of Marks "Blue Midge", with a size twenty hook. A stealthy downstream crossing put me at just the right position for a backhand cast. My targets were hugging my side of the bank, very close to the thick, grassy undercut bank. I cast my line, take one half step forward and cast again, landing my flies twelve inches in front of my prey. My indicator alerted me to the take just half a second before my drag started squealing. I caught the attention of two gentlemen who had started fishing downstream. I had to step about three feet off the bank into ankle deep water where my last trout of the day was laying. He made a few more good runs before I had him in my possession. I admired this fish briefly, appreciating every second we had together. Another worthy trout, another exceptional day. One of the fishermen who was near us came up and gave us a few of his "Depuy Killer Flies". They were some natural looking blood midge pupae on a sixteen long-shafted hook, I took them home with me and tied some of my own for next time. Exhausted, we packed up and drove home.

            We say numbers don't matter but that day I landed over fifteen beautiful trout. The smallest was maybe sixteen and the biggest was close to twenty, average being seventeen to eighteen inches. Its days like these that give us a taste of how great the fishing can be. Lets not forget about the days we get skunked either. When I leave the river without hooking a fish, it only feeds my desire to find days like this at Depuy's. During the summer months the price doubles to spend a day at this place. I'll stick with my freestones and tail-waters until fall. Fish on all!

 Pictures to be added soon!


Friday, June 6, 2014

Chasing Grayling and Big Cutties


           I found myself debating on whether or not to make the thirty minute drive up Hyalite Canyon in pursuit of whatever it was I could find, I wasn't even certain. I had to tell myself to go or I would end up sitting inside, tying flies until my back screamed for mercy. The weather was hanging between rainy and windy, and really rainy and cold. I knew the fishing would be great If I could find the fish though. I'm fairly familiar with my local waters, where to go at what time of year, and of course, what to use and when. Most of my local fish habitat is blown out this time of year and I was just itching for some mediocre fishing. I had in mind a place I've heard of many times. Locals talk about it but it seemed harder to get there at the right time than even trying to bother waiting for the right conditions. Winding up the narrow mountain road, past what seems like endless pocket water full of brookies, I was heading for a reservoir. It was difficult not to stop before getting to my destination.  Bigger fish are ahead I told myself as I passed one of my favorite runs this time of year, bigger fish are ahead. Like I said, I wasn't sure what I was looking for, I just know I wanted to fish the reservoir with either chironomids or streamers from the bank.

             To my surprise, when I reached the top of Hyalite Canyon Road, the reservoir was full of white caps. The wind was harsh and cold as if it were blowing straight off the mountains themselves. It was seventy degrees at my home before I left, but here I was barely prepared to stand the elements, let alone fish into the awful wind. My spirit was a bit bruised. I felt the urge to explore a little, but knew I would probably turn around and go home. I figured the drive up the canyon was as good as sitting at home. Before I turned back, I noticed the road to the upper section was now open. The stories of what lie ahead popped up in my head. The destination I wanted to check out was only a mile or so down this old dirt road which is closed many days of the year. The road follows the steep banks of Hyalite Reservoir for only a couple of miles. I was looking for where upper Hyalite Creek flowed into the reservoir. The small, whitewater stream feeds fast flowing water right into the high elevation reservoir. Most of the year this location is flooded, taking away the structure of channels that attract the fish before they head up the stream to reproduce. There's actually a sign posted that says "fishing above this sign is off limits until July", after the cutthroat spawn. When people talked about being here at the right time, they mean the cutty spawn, when the reservoir

           There are a few reasons the outlet of the upper creek is such a hot spot for fish. Cutthroat rainbows and grayling stack up here for a few reasons. The rainbows follow the cuttys during spawning and feast upon the eggs that drift freely downstream. The other reason may seem obvious as well; colder water and current flow. This outlet of water is the greatest structure in the whole reservoir. I could walk miles of the shoreline, throwing wooly buggers along the banks, hoping to hook a lone cruiser or two. But here was something special. At the outlet, I desired a place that 1.) hadn't been fished hard since ice-over, 2.) has a steady number of fish moving in and out all day 3.) brings in the native cutthroat on their way to spawn. Of course, these were factors I had in my head, and the reasons I wanted to find this so called honey hole. I was unsure of what the conditions might be.
             I pulled up to a two car pull-off on the south end of the lake. Right away I could tell the lake level had not yet risen to undesired levels. I actually looked out through the rain and saw a rather dull sight. Heavy waves and gusts of wind were pounding the muddy banks. I couldnt see my destination, it was just around the corner behind a boggy, muddy, stinky swamp-like flat. I had to navigate through what reminded me of a mangrove swamp. Small channels of nasty, bacteria filled water blocked my path. I would have to climb over a hundred dead bushes in order to keep my feet dry. So I backed out and headed back down the dirt road. Either my curiosity or my urge to fish got to me. I turned around and parked back into the small space, turning off the ignition as a statement saying "I'm here to stay now". I thought I would get a little dirty, but I wanted to see if these channels were fishable, I had nothing to lose. I zipped up my rain jacket and made my way through the maze that was the bog. Next time I will be bringing my waders I thought, as I jumped another small, stagnate piece of orange colored water. It was too easy to imagine a bull moose or grizzly bear rummaging around back there. I wasnt surprised to see bear tracks when I saw them.

a new personal best cutthroat from Hyalite Reservoir, caught on a #20 caddis pupae

          I made it out of the bog with dry feet, I succeeded! My first glance at the water I was going to fish was a sight to see! There before my eyes was a beautiful piece of water, no longer than twenty five yards. I had it all to myself too. A few fly fishermen were on the shore across from me just within yelling distance. Up ahead I saw the sign, maybe fifty yards away, and below that the upper Hyalite Creek raged around a corner, slowing its release right into the pool I was about to fish. The water flew around, jetted over a shallow rock bar, and slowed down as the water deepened. I didnt know what I was getting myself into. I was unsure if someone had already hammered this spot. It would be very easy for one man to cover the hole by himself, and there wouldn't be a lot of room to share. However given the time of day, only 9:00 am, I imagined I was the first here. I spent no time rigging up a San Juan worm and small caddis pupae under one BB sized split-shot and an indicator roughly seven feet up from there. I took a few minutes to finish my cigarette and watch the water. I couldn't help but breath the mountain air in deeply while I gazed at the surrounding Fridley, Blackmore, and Hyalite peaks. Fortunately for me I was in the right place at the right time. What I was about to experience was one of those moments that will stay with me until the day I no longer walk this earth.

          ....To be continued