09 Feb 2015
February 9, 2015

Small River, Big Reward

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It’s February in Montana, but you wouldn’t know it looking at the weather. Spring like conditions this past weekend brought strong winds, warm temps, and rain to the region. But no matter the wind and the rain, warm temps will bring anglers to the river. Instead of following the masses, I chose to explore new water, or at least that was the plan.

I had heard of a small river over the pass that had been fishing well, so that was the direction I intended to go. As Saturday approached, even this small river’s cfs had climbed. Though still fishable by cfs standards, the clarity of the water was more like watered down chocolate milk rather than crystal clear trout abundant water. A change of plans was in order, exploring new water was no longer in my mind, instead heading to a small river that I had once known very well, and still was pretty intimate with. Earlier in the day I had checked the radar and noticed that a valley to the south was not receiving the rain we were receiving, so south I drove.

Like many times before, when I pulled into the parking lot of the access site, my truck was the only one there. I have fished this spring creek over a dozen times, but I only know around 100 yards of the river. Honestly, I have never felt the need to explore any farther, but I know one day I will. As I walked toward the river, I noticed that it was the lowest I had ever seen it, but then again I had never fished it in February. It didn’t take long to notice there were plenty of fish in the river. As I walked the bank heading toward a particular hole that has always treated me well, I spotted several fish hanging out in familiar locations.

Due to the strong winds, I had decided to carry two poles with me; an 8′ 4wt. equipped with a dry fly, just in case; and a 7’6″ 3wt with a gold beaded Hare’s Ear, size 18. Standing in the water next to the hole, I was making my second cast, as the drift went through, the indicator froze, the line went tight and then I could hear the drag of the reel. For the next two hours I experienced fish after fish after fish. They ranged in size from 10″ to 20″, some fought well, some gave up easy, some were still brilliant in appearance, and some you could tell were beat down and spent from the Fall spawn. But for those two hours, I experienced some of the best, if not the best, fly fishing so far in my life.DSC_0161

The Spring like weather we are having here in Montana may be a blessing or perhaps a curse, but no matter what it is, we have to take advantage of the opportunity it provides us. Whether it is battling a fish on the Mighty MO or maybe a smaller river still open and near and dear to our hearts, get out there and spend some time on the river!

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