Thursday, May 30, 2013

Beaver Believer - Part 1

As a native Oregonian, this post has nothing to do with my support for Oregon State University, of which there is little.  Go Ducks!  (Hey, I got to get my digs in when I can after all).  No, this post has all to do with the last Blue Ribbon trout stream in Montana I have yet to fish, until now.

Not bad road trip scenery eh?  Upper Bighole Valley, en route to the Beav.

This weekend, myself and a group of intrepid souls made the three hour journey to the Beaverhead River.  I had been told tales of big browns and rainbows, lots of them, so I had to see for myself.  I have to say I was a little skeptical at first as I crossed Clark Canyon dam and spotted a dozen anglers fishing what looked like an all too thin ribbon of water.  For some reason I imagined the Beav to be bigger. this thing you could easily cast across the entire river, well, almost, if it wasn't for all those stinkin' willows as I would find out.   

My skepticism was quickly squashed however as my second cast into a likely looking run produced a football shaped rainbow in the 20 inch range.  The fish did a couple cartwheels and then ripped downstream like a rocket.  I must have had some saved up fish karma because after a lengthy tug-of-war, he came to hand.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a good photo.  (It's tricky trying to handle a net, fly rod, big trout, and SLR camera at the same time!).  However as it turned out, this would not be the only good fish landed on the trip, not by a long shot.  The early success was quickly followed up with some solid post sunset streamer fishing

So Far So Good.
The night concluded with some great food, conversation, and plots for the next days fishing.  The worst part of the evening happened to be our fire, well not the fire exactly, more like the fire ring.  In the great wisdom of the campground managers they had chosen to install a massive fire ring that could also double as a bomb shelter.  Undoubtedly this was meant to keep a bunch of careless fishermen from burning Beaverhead County to the ground, but the end result was the coldest most pitiful excuse for a fire that has ever been witnessed by mankind.  It's a sad sight, when you need a propane heater next to the fire to stay warm.  There's my rant.  Moving on.  It was really cold, just sayin'.  I mean someone could get hypothermia next to that thing...

The Frozen Chozen
Day 2 began early with some skinny water nymphing on the upper river.  As a guy used to fishing big freestone streams, I wasn't really prepared for how technical the nymphing was.  Long leaders, light tippet, skinny water, and size 16-18-20 nymphs of the pheasant tail persuasion were the rule.  The combination of big fish, cold water, and not a lot of steel left us (mostly me!) looking at a lot of long distance releases.  As a result, we were lucky if we landed half the fish we hooked.  Truth be told there may some rainbows that pull harder than those in the Beaverhead River, but I haven't met very many.  Still, some high quality trout were brought to hand.

Game Planning.
Hero Shot
Mike with a Chunky Bow'
The day concluded with a float and more of the same, small nymphs vs. sizable trout.  Boat captain Brett managed to land one of the prettiest browns I have seen in some time.  The action throughout the day was steady, not red hot, but enough to keep everyone interested.  I had a blast seeing new water and learning the river.  There's nothing like fishing a new stream for the first time. 

Salmo Trutta.
The day was capped off with great food, (much better than the canned sardines and crackers I had brought!) conversation, lies, and stories.  Thankfully the second night wasn't as cold as the first so the services of the propane heater weren't necessary. 

Day 3 would come early, but I will save that for another day.   

Eating Well.
To Be Continued...  Mostly because I have a bunch more lackluster photos to share.  Not because I have anything profound to say.


  1. Bob... you definitely got into some nice fish. But, why wouldn't you... You're at the Beave! I've been 3x this year already! Try next year before they bump the flows... And great lackluster pics. ha.

  2. Sounds like an amazing trip! Amazing photos and beautiful fish! Look forward to thhe rest of the trip!