Category Archives: Brown Trout

Early Autumn on the Blackfoot River

There was an early October crispness to the air, but the mid-morning sun and light breeze quickly melted it away. We stuffed our polar fleece hats and gloves into the dry bag with our rain gear – just in case. Another day on the Blackfoot River – from Scotty Brown’s bridge to County Line, a short four mile float that we would milk all afternoon.

Scotty Brown's Bridge, Blackfoot River

Scotty Brown’s Bridge on the Blackfoot River.

Shortly after we pushed off, a little dun horse came down through the burnt-red bushes and golden grasses along river’s edge to have a drink of cool water. Beauty and harmony, peace and quiet. The Blackfoot River is my Heaven on earth.

Blackfoot River Cutthroat

This autumn-colored Blackfoot River cutthroat put up an exhilarating fight!

Except for the evergreens, trees and brush were morphing into the brilliant colors of fall. The trout, too, seemed to be donning their autumn wardrobes. Several 12” to 16” rainbows of bright silver and pale pink, a 16” brown with deep golden fins and bright red spots, and a feisty 18” cutthroat with brilliant salmon-colored cheeks and belly. This fish took hard and swam deep, fighting to get behind boulders in the middle of the River. When I finally got him to the net, we were both exhausted. Absolutely thrilling!

The entire day was five-star from start to finish. A mile or so from our take out, we anchored downstream from a sharp bend in the River near a couple of VW-sized boulders. It was not long before I had a small cutthroat on the fly, when Ron shouted, “Look! A bull trout is trying to eat your fish!” Sure enough, this freight train – about 24” of bull trout – was attacking the poor little fish with my hook in its’ mouth. I reeled the cutty in to the safety of our net, and though his sides were scrapped, there were no mortal wounds.

Apparently, the bull trout are just finishing up spawning and are very aggressive this time of year. It is illegal to target this protected species on the Blackfoot, but what a privilege to see them in action.

Always an adventure on the Blackfoot River!

Blackfoot River

The Blackfoot River is Heaven on earth during any season.

Catching On – Fly Fishing in Montana

Rick Stockbridge, Fly Fishing, Georgetown Lake

Brother-in-law Rick Stockbridge fly fishing on Georgetown Lake. He had to borrow warmer rain gear from Ron due to the unusually cool weather we had in late August.

My brother-in-law, Rick, from Texas came to visit last week. Sister Marsha couldn’t make it because she’s not yet strong enough after major back surgery to correct scoliosis. She vows to come in December to go snowmobiling in Yellowstone.

We put Rick up in the Guest House – that’s our slide-in camper parked in the driveway. It offered privacy, a comfortable bed, shower, radio and microwave.

Then we took him fishing.

Sunday was supposed to be iffy weather, so we opted to take the little motor boat on Georgetown Lake. Although clouds obscured the surrounding mountain ranges and vast Montana skies, as we caught rainbow and brook trout (and one silver salmon), we could see Montana’s nature encapsulated in the spunky fight, vibrant colors and psychedelic patterns of these vivacious piscatorial gems.

Rick Stockbridge, Georgetown Lake, Rainbow Trout

After a little instruction and a lot of casts, Rick was able to land several nice Georgetown Lake rainbow trout.

Rick Stockbridge, Georgetown Lake, Rainbow Trout

Here’s Rick reeling in his last catch of the day at Georgetown Lake. Seconds later, Ron’s rod was bending too, and they simultaneously landed a couple of nice rainbow trout.

Ron gave Rick some basic instruction on fly casting (we were throwing shades of brown jigs, then retrieving), and near the end of the day the two of them landed double rainbows!

We saw a merganser duck with a fish in his mouth be flocked by seagulls before he swallowed it whole. We also broke the tip off a Sage rod and almost capsized the boat when we all went for the save. Oh, and we got the stink off our new Fishpond light-weight composite net.

Georgetown Lake, Rainbow Trout

Getting the stink off our new Fishpond net.

On Tuesday, we gave Rick a ride down the Big Hole River in the Saturn raft – a glorious late-August blue-sky day with temps in the 70s. We stopped in the fly shop to get a shuttle and bought a few of their new dry flies they said should work great on this particular day. They did not. I don’t think we got one fish on top all day. Ron’s clown worm and the bead head pheasant tail nymph were the winner winner chicken dinners of the day.

Rick Stockbridge, Big Hole River, Fly Fishing

T-shirt weather on the Big Hole River.

Fishing nymphs, we landed lots of native white fish. But Rick didn’t care – he was fly fishing. In Montana. On the Big Hole River. And the weather was fall t-shirt weather while it was 100 degrees back home in Texas. Plus, he had the company and instruction of both Ron and I!

We made the four-mile float from Jerry Creek to George Grant in about six hours. We stopped often to fish good holes. Ate sandwiches and Cheetos. Admired our surroundings. Rick’s casting continued to improve. As Ron rowed, Rick stood and cast off the platform in front of the raft, as I fished languidly in the back. Surprisingly, as we cast from side to side, our lines tangled just once. Rick’s stability in the front of the boat was also impressive. I only saw him bobble one time as Ron pulled back a bit aggressively on the oars. We fished each hole diligently and often went back up river to, of course, fish the other side.

Brown Trout, Big Hole River

Ron landed this beautiful brown trout on one of our newly-tied clown worms.

Throughout the day we landed browns, rainbows, lots of white fish, and even one arctic grayling. We saw a number of raptors soaring overhead. A large flock of black birds made a ruckus in one small tree, then rose and fluttered off as we floated past.

The river flowed cool and easy, with riffles and rapids around each bend. There was barely a breeze. The sky was sunshine bright blue. Puffy white clouds, high rocky crags, and riverside trees offered just enough shade.

By journey’s end, Rick had caught his share of fish, and lost twice as many. For him, it seemed casting was easier than catching. Ron complimented him, saying, “Rick, you’ve developed a natural pause on your back cast.” Rick only nodded and talked about coming back to fish next spring. I think he’s catching on.

Big Hole River, Fly Fishing

Ron, doing his own thing – hoping for a bite on the Big Hole River.

Making Memories with Family
August 23-27, 2014

Trout Tuesday, Big Hole River Brown Trout

German Brown Trout, Big Hole River

Spots of a German Brown Trout.

There are two types of brown trout in Montana – the German Brown and Scotland’s Loch Leven. Ron says German Browns have black spots as well as red or orange spots, often encircled by pale halos. Loch Leven do not have colored spots.

The territories of these two strains are also different. Again according to Ron, both can be found East of the Continental Divide, but only the German Brown can be found West of the Divide.

When I asked Ron how he knows all this he just said, “Well, I was born and raised in Montana!”

German Brown Trout, Big Hole River

German Brown Trout caught and released on the Big Hole River.