My Favorite Place to Fish

There are two questions I’m consistently asked, the first being, “Do you know who you look like…” and I always answer, “yes,” before they finish with, “Brett Favre.” The second is, “Where is your favorite place to fish?”

The first time I was asked that question I didn’t know what to say. Too many options. Too many great places. Too many awesome hatches. Too many great towns to visit. But I knew it would come up again. So I gave it some serious thought.

I would be tempted to say that a steelhead stream in Alaska, or the Dean River in British Columbia are my favorites, with the Dean probably winning a head-to-head competition, but those aren’t very accessible for very many people, let alone myself, now that I’m taking care of kids all the time.

So I looked a little closer to home and went down the list of streams that I’ve spent a lot of time on and enjoy for various reasons. I really like Idaho’s Silver Creek for the technical nature of the fishing. And I really like Idaho’s Clearwater for variety and backpacking options. I also like southeast British Columbia and some bull trout and cutthroat streams there. But, I think my favorite, the one I would fish if it were the last day of my life and I could throw just about anywhere, would be the Big Hole River in southwest Montana.

That river can be temperamental, true, but it is a freestone stream, hosts large trout—rainbows and browns—and it offers the bonus of brook trout and grayling, and it flows through some of the most diverse and beautiful landscape in the West. In addition it has some great towns along its banks, including Wise River, Dewey, Divide, Melrose and Twin Bridges. And it has a signature drink: the Moscow Mule.

A nice one from the lower Big Hole near Melrose.

Best of all, the river is accessible to wade and float anglers. On the floating side, there are a variety of awesome drifts to choose from. Wade options are limited during runoff times, but early spring, summer and fall offer prime conditions. When fishing the river from a raft, driftboat, or on foot, anglers get to match a bunch of bugs, including pale morning duns, baetis, Tricos, hoppers, green drakes, salmonflies, golden stoneflies, ants, etc. Almost any day of the year, excluding the dead of winter of course, you’ll find bugs on the Big Hole.

Another thing I like about the Big Hole is that every cast could bring a monster. Some giant browns and rainbows, fish weighing over 10 pounds, swim in the river. They aren’t easy to come by but they do exist. That adds a level to the fishing that you can’t find on a stocked trout pond or someplace where the trout are all cookie-cutter 15-inchers.

Beat that for a pretty fly fishing scene.

And, finally, the Big Hole is really where I began to fish, with an introduction to the river by Ed and Joy Skubitz of Butte, Montana. I owe a lot to them, for their generosity and taking the time to float me down the river when I was in high school, and to sink a passion into me. It turned into a career that began at that point. So, for me, it’s a combination of things that makes the Big Hole my favorite—good trout, scenery, lively towns, and personal history with family and friends.

Where’s your favorite place to fish and why? Starting a discussion here.

Grayling, upper river near Wise River and Wisdom.

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11 Responses to My Favorite Place to Fish

  1. Scott Markle says:

    Being from the east, I have not yet had the fortune of visiting any of the great rivers out west. The river I would select would be the South Holston in eastern Tennessee. The South Holston is a tail water that contains a fantastic wild fish population. Particularly in the fall, one has a great opportunity to catch a 20+inch brown and even some large rainbows. It is fairly technical fishing but the opportunity to hook up with a trophy is to hard to pass up.

  2. JB says:

    I haven’t fished most of the places you mentioned, but as someone who fishes Montana’s water year round, I concur. I know others who would as well.

  3. Ivan says:

    While this does nothing for the discussion, I have to agree with you Greg. The Big Hole is far and away my favorite river to fish. With it’s prolific hatches and angry browns, I get the chance to do two things I love most: throw big articulated streamers and throw tiny dries to rising pods of trout.

  4. T Lowe says:

    Fuck that shit…Favre couldn’t hold your jock strap Thomas, he looks like you!


  5. Will Jordan says:

    The Smith ranks high on my list, as you talked about in a recent post it’s a unique float, the fishing is solid, great scenery and day hikes away from the river. The alpine lakes in the Beartooth Mountains never fail to impress. And going back to my roots, the trout streams at the bottom of the Grand Canyon are amazing… remote, wild fisheries with the potential for big trout, and well, the Grand Canyon.

    • Greg Thomas says:

      You’ve got a point. Tough not to feel like you’re in the perfect place when you are throwing a line on the Smith or floating under those cliffs, or even just hanging out in camp. Solid choice.

  6. Craig says:

    Although the Blackfoot and Bitterroot hold special places in my heart (as do many, many other waters) I will hang my hat on Rock Creek. Of course everyone immediately thinks salmonflies and yes, they are a blast but with reliable hatches throughout the year and some truly stellar fall fishing it is probably my favorite in spite of the increasing pressure and the recent decrease in average size (my observation anyway). It has an incredible diversity of habitat as well as some great scenery.

  7. Pingback: Tippets: The GT Triple Double, Favorite Places, Drilling Scrutiny, Klamath Dam Removal Delayed | MidCurrent

  8. Guest says:

    Very nice blog and it is a beautiful river indeed. I love fishing and spent the whole of last summer fishing alone in the wilderness in my own river! Made a small video about it, hope you enjoy it! If I had one day to live I would spend it by my river.

  9. AJ Donnell says:

    ST. Joe, Northern Idado. Big Cutt’s and chances of Bull Trout. Plus the scenery is beautiful!

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