Montana 2: Time To Fish

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It’s not easy leaving our home waters in the midst of king-salmon season for catch-and-release trout fishing, but I wanted the kids to experience a bigger version of the active wading and casting they’ve started to enjoy around here. Did I mention I know almost nothing about trout fishing? Fortunately, we had my buddy Yvon, the King of Soft-Hackle Wet Flies, with us for guidance. That’s his fly box above. Pick any color, as long as it’s brown.

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Craig recommended we explore a little stream near our cabin to “get our feet wet,” before tackling the bigger wading (and fish) challenges of the Madison. Great suggestion. Yvon, the kids, and I headed upstream to dip our toes into Montana trout water and soak up the dry, high-elevation scenery. Weston spotted a grizzly on the way up, and Skyla saw a cow moose…a successful day before we even started fishing.

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That’s Yvon, teaching Skyla the finer points of the tenkara soft-hackle twitch, done here with a regular fly rod and reel due to tight quarters and small water.

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Skyla and Weston took a while to adjust to slick wading conditions and swift currents (both eventually made unintentional swims at one point or another) but Yvon came to the rescue with a steadying hand.

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And here’s Weston’s first Montana rainbow. Game on! Stay tuned for more from Montana…

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Mountain Trout Fun

The kids had been practicing with fly rods in the backyard, and they were looking pretty good. Their waders still fit, too. So we decided to run up into the Cascades for a day of chasing trout the color of butterflies, as my friend Bill McMillan calls them. We’re usually so focused on saltwater fishing close to home, as a parent, I realized I’ve been slow to introduce them to something that brought me so much happiness as a kid. I haven’t been trout fishing in years, but there’s something about small streams, dry flies and kids that just go together. That’s Skyla, above, focused as usual, and Weston, simply happy to be able to sit in the water and stay dry. The boy does love his waders!

As you can see, it was also an opportunity to mess around with my brand-new-to-me, used, waterproof camera that my good friend Brian Bennett is selling me at great discount. Missed my focus on the one above, but it was almost there. I used this camera for the recent Cuba posts, but this is the first time I actually put it in the water. I’m stoked to have it.

The kids discovered that currents, rock walls, and overhanging branches all make casting a lot tougher in “real life” than in the yard. I discovered how challenging it is to help two kids wade and fly fish at the same time. We struggled a bit, and the fishing was slow due to low water temps and the amount of time we spent hooked up to trees and bushes, but we all had a great time. Late in the day, as we hiked back to the car, Skyla insisted (as usual) that we “try one more spot” before going home. We found a gorgeous, deep pool, and Weston and I worked the tailout together. I sent Skyla up to the head of the run on her own, and there, without any help from Dad, she made the cast, made the drift, and watched a fish come up through four feet of air-clear water to eat her fly. She set the hook perfectly and landed a gorgeous little cutthroat, our best fish of the day. All by herself. That’s her fish above, the color of butterflies.