Fly Fishing for Native Cutthroat Trout, Montana

Been keeping an eye on a particular stream that I started fishing last year. Didn’t really understand why there were so many large fish in it. Thought, must be a spring spawning run bringing big dudes out of the main river and into the smaller flow to frolic.

So I went back earlier this year thinking that I’d find them in droves. And I couldn’t buy a fish. Strange. Water was high and fast, but still. Soft edges, slower runs. What the hell? I wondered.

Gave it a rest. Fished some other streams. Thought maybe something half-catastrophic must have happened. Then I decided, after a lot of deliberation, to give it another try. So, late yesterday I loaded the rig and headed out with sights set on a canyon section that I didn’t even fish the year prior. Thought it looked good last year and decided the same this time around.

Let me tell you it was hairy. Steep scramble down, Wicked slick banks with overhanging brush. Strong flows right off the bank. I picked my way upstream with high hopes only to be blown away by how few fish I found. And then I got to a run that didn’t look that great at first, until I cast a fly into a seem between two fast currents… and had a 16-inch native westslope cutthroat bang the fly. Then another, then another and another.  I had two rejection letters, too. And finally moved upstream.

It wasn’t hot and heavy, but every once in a while I’d see a good fish rise to the fly. They weren’t pushovers but they weren’t brown trout either. I fished the canyon for a couple hours until I arrived at impassable cliffs and then hiked straight up, out of the hole, clinging to vegetation and anything else I could find so I wouldn’t slide all the way down and have to do it again.

Thought I’d show you a couple shots of the water and the fish. Wish I were there right now but I’m about to do a pre-party before the Hailstorm show at the Wilma Theater in Missoula. Tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow.

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2 Responses to Fly Fishing for Native Cutthroat Trout, Montana

  1. Nate Schweber says:


  2. Ivan says:

    it is confusingly productive and frustrating water. it has changed a lot in the past couple years with the big runoff last year. It seems to take a more direct route now. Such is nature.

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