OK, I was wrong. Or maybe I was right. Perhaps it was being right by being wrong. Looking forward to our Montana fishing trip I tied up a bunch of flies hoping at least one of them would be the answer and I'd be pulling in big trout while sharing that certain fly with my companions, thus making me the hero. Past experience, however, has proven my best intentions and efforts are often for naught. It seems no matter what patterns are tied there is always some new hot fly that catches all the fish, and I don't have it. So, to put it simply: I tied flies suspecting they would be wrong, and I was right.
Our cabin was located one other cabin and three trailered drift boats away from the fly shop, so a short morning stroll for coffee and advice seemed routine. I've said it before – folks running fly shops have to make money, but they won't try it by selling you a pig-in-a-poke. They can't guarantee anything, but I've come to learn their suggestions are mighty close to fly fishing gospel. If you don't wanna' ask outright, listen for the subtle, like when we were peering over the massive fly trays and someone mentioned they were almost out of #16 Rainbow Warriors, the guy behind the counter smiled and said, “There's a reason for that.”
If there was a downside it was that the river was higher than I'd ever seen it the few other times I've fished it. There were bugs on the water, bwo's and midges, and a few caddis hatches but the trout were just not rising. It's hard to know if anyone actually knew why but the water level got the blame. Seemed reasonable. So we fished nymphs and tossed steamers.
I'm impressed with sixteen inch trout every time, but those were the exception. The trout we caught were thick and strong and we taped plenty that made the 20 inch range. A few ran an inch less, and a few were several inches more but it's the size of the fight that gets your heart thumpin' and it didn't take long to realize a 5x tippet wasn't going to cut it on those jumping Missouri River rainbows and deep pulling browns.
Days on the river with good friends; great suppers grilled outdoors; fine whiskey and stories makes for easy sleep and sweet dreams, and so another Montana trip is in the books.