Montana 4: Evenings

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Where was I? Oh, yeah…Montana. Every day was a new adventure; one day we drove down into Idaho and fished a gorgeous river near Ashton. On another, Yvon, the kids and I started fishing the Gallatin up high in the park where it’s a meandering meadow creek, then followed it north to where it turned into a medium-sized freestone river. And on yet another day, we took a break from fishing and headed into The Park to brave the circus around Old Faithful (it was 10 minutes late, crowded, and still spectacular) and look for wildlife (spotted bison, elk, bighorn sheep and a moose). Of course, we did have to stop for a few casts 0n the Gibbon and Firehole on the way back…

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Wherever we went, though, we wrapped up each day back on our “home waters” of the Madison. That’s Skyla watching and waiting for the evening hatch to start. I loved sitting with her in the warm evening light, feet dangling in the water, listening to the excitement in her voice when she spotted a rise.

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We often fished until almost pitch-black night, with bats swooping through the air, and that spooky feeling–a tingly mix of excitement and dread–that comes from being in a river in the dark. That’s Weston and Craig with a fat Madison River rainbow that chased down a big waking dry fly. I think the look on Weston’s face says it all. A huge thank you to Craig, Jackie and Yvon for kindness, patience, generosity, wisdom and just being plain fun to hang out with. We made the long drive home stoked on gratitude and memories that I know will last forever.

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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…