flyangler

Missoula Montana - 30June to 05July - trip report

Rate this topic

71 posts in this topic

Headed to Montana as I type this for 5 days of trout fishing. This is my wife's 60th birthday gift to me. Fourth time for me back to Missoula and it’s range of rivers. 

 

Started planning this last year and locked in flights, guide and hotel back in December. I thought to a while that I would have to cancel due to the virus but Montana reopened with Phase 2 on June 1st. Prior to that, a 14-day quarantine would have killed the trip. 

 

The only hiccup is that I cannot fly direct from Fort Lauderdale to Salt Lake City as JetBlue has killed that route. So I am flying from Palm Beach to Boston to connect to SLC. Extra hours but at least it is happening. Before you ask why I didn’t rebook with another airline, it is the availability and the costs by the time this became an issue. I used miles for these flights so no cash outlay other than the taxes. The good news is that #2 son who is joining me in the trip is in Boston so we are on the flight together. We are overnighting in Salt Lake City and flying to Missoula on Delta tomorrow morning.  

 

The plan is to get acclimated on Tuesday and float for the next five days. The Clark Fork runs right behind the hotel and I have fished there in the past on these stub days. So we may possibly wade fish there and get my so accustomed to a 5wt as he has little fly rod time and that was several years ago with a 10wt chasing Florida albies. 

 

The rivers out there are running high and it is raining right now. Spring runoff seems to have been late this year and the current rain is not helping. Unlike 2016 when we were here last and the water was gin clear with bluebird skies, conditions will be a bit more challenging for the first couple of days. The guide says that with enough “windshield time” and effort, it will all work out. My guess that means we might be head to the Missouri or the Big Hole. 

 

Airports - Palm Beach Airport was nearly vacant, like flying in after 11pm when everything is closed and there are only a handful of passengers. But I was there around 11am and it felt that way. Full TSA contingent but passengers were very light and all the eating establishments were closed. One sandwich place and a pizza-bar doing to-go pizzas. But as strange as that was, Boston is even more empty. Over 25 years I have gone in and out of Logan Airport dozens of times, including some late arrivals the night before a meeting, and I have never seen anything like this. A couple of news/gift shops open. Wahlberger doing takeout and that’s it in this terminal. Even Starbucks is closed. 

 

Anyway, I will provide updates as I can, assuming there is any interest. Below are a few photos from my last trip out here in 2016 with #3 son. 

 

View from hotel room balcony. 

 

F7AC1EA0-67B0-42B7-B31E-63D5C6998BE6.jpeg.e6ac3f9852bd7c34cc7a9e8a2ab4578f.jpeg

 

F5971BF5-8453-4BE2-A8FD-AC8E3E35D8CE.jpeg.4b8fe2daaf72073f3fe5246c96496990.jpeg

 

DF760DEA-604A-4C9C-8646-DDD42A666563.jpeg.f5ffa65f0d73a4cf2e5f495944413c22.jpeg

 

Son with his first trout on a fly, then a bigger one, one of many double-headers and me with a decent cuttie. 

 

17E11941-3CF2-484E-8119-E80C60B44A37.jpeg.985396bd5e8329e0313dac950c54618c.jpeg

 

740F516B-1115-41A0-BCCD-84F822339740.jpeg.2655e6586c598ec452ed64df4a1d52ec.jpeg

 

7C4797AD-A1D2-45C0-B19C-2DA5B4E40C37.jpeg.e236c86e4d1a3b63871234116bb177af.jpeg

 

27BD65BE-9C0A-4B97-9014-07E0FE28116A.jpeg.c65936ebdf8895d7da8da85805e8ed9a.jpeg

 

Miscellaneous

 

D7FA3F42-9140-4E79-9AEF-1B6A0179C327.jpeg.144b15c91b355d6572381e8cfc815ce4.jpeg

 

1317D5C6-4CD4-4574-995A-0F2207019153_1_105_c.jpeg.9aaabb82a98241fb6dc8fce763a355fa.jpeg

 

00954097-285D-48B5-B772-60CD5ED37053.jpeg.6d94352f954b3f21f06f361f1a5f912e.jpeg

 

D9EC16E9-74DE-473F-A385-55B6D4616313.jpeg.48435e7ce5bc7c3c93a8a73d487bcb64.jpeg

 

B60DF252-37CB-41C2-B396-3B3EB59EFD94.jpeg.628d3cd31f683734af81dceae177108b.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I LOVE Missoula!!!   I did winter warfare training there "back in the day."   Spent six weeks in the mountains, two weeks of which the temp never got above -20 below.  Freaking cold!!  Back in '81-ish.  Absolutely beautiful country!!  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

I am looking forward to your reports!! Have a GREAT trip with your son. It's God's country!

 

How was the trip out??

Tight lines! 

Edited by Gilbey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Man, miss those rivers.  Every fly fisherman ought to go to college in Missoula!  Enjoy your trip!  Look forward to your posts.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Gilbey said:

I am looking forward to your reports!! Have a GREAT trip with your son. It's God's country!

 

How was the trip out??

Tight lines! 

On final approach now into SLC, a long day given it is midnight and I arrived at PBI at 10:30am. 
 

On one of my better bonehead moves of late, I scheduled a call with a European company that is a prospective client for 8am EDT tomorrow, 6am in Utah, so I will be up at 5:30. Which is actually not bad as that is 7:30 Eastern and we have a 9:30 flight to Missoula. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, awake, barely. My conference call is done and I managed to not sound like I was working on 5 hours sleep. Soon off to the airport to get to Missoula, but I have to get son awake and moving first, never an easy chore.

 

Checked the weather forecast and it is still raining in Missoula with sporadic rain for the next day or so - the rivers are going to be running high. Unless my guide has some magic accesses, it feels like lots of nymphing and watching a thingamabod for hours. If the fish are eating, that's great, if not, that's a looooong day. 

 

With the water levels up, there is the possibility streamers assuming the trout are hugging the banks. I actually enjoy pulling streamers, "spanking the bank" and the savagery of those strikes so I packed a small collection of Kelly Galloup style streamers prior to leaving FL.

 

The box in the photo below is from the last trip, I have about a quarter of them with me now, mostly the darker patterns which cast a better silhouette in muddy water. At bottom, two of the Galloup patterns ready to fish back in 2016. BTW, I insisted, against the judgement of our guide, that we dedicate a day in 2016 to streamers, big mistake. Very slow day and my son still busts my balls about "Dad wanting to spank something". The fish in my avatar was one of the few cooperative ones that day. 

 

45FCBD42-DA77-47C3-9196-75295B7EB381.jpeg.8212e865ec940c03b2daca0f2b2bf8b9.jpeg

 

 

5F85C098-551D-429C-88D0-384762FC2F12.jpeg.f7fe82c28b943dea8a7777d000036d26.jpeg

 

F32254A2-0B06-4362-9FA2-CC14458B0514.jpeg.d49218b4d465b33d2e33b064135bb623.jpeg

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Kbetts said:

My girlfriend and I are planning a trip there in September.

 

Following this.

Missoula specifically? Float or wade? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The interesting thing about the trout in these states, especially cutties, is their affinity for the color purple. The Purple Haze dry pattern is very popular as are nymphs and some wet flies. Two dry fly variants below with a wet.

 

3887571C-9144-4A6B-B639-B81ADE289361.png.93d665bacd164cd1dabd5e0fb10a2c82.png

 

F712C410-0DE0-499D-8B14-2F8E219B72F9.jpeg.9b6f3fcfc6ec12772e72df192e944653.jpeg

 

D698B1D8-2371-4116-BD89-BDFDD02B5343.jpeg.dffe406a756e041c506e0f4171e42fa3.jpeg

 

My guide has a variation of the Purple Haze which replaces the tail with a purple synthetic fiber shuck and it is deadly. I have seen big cuts come up, miss it, come back downstream 6+ feet and try to take it again. My guide is convinced the sun passing through the shuck creates a light that passes deeper into the water due to the wavelength. I am not sure about that but I have seen what that pattern can do. 

 

He is so convinced that he was an exclusive idea that I have seen him row upstream just to get the fly off a stream-side log where an errant cast had snagged it. I have also seen him go fully underwater to release a 20” cuttie from a snag, as well as to get his fly back. That was the first day and the first time he did something like that and I found his aversion to me just snapping the tippet odd. He then explained about the fly and his wanting it to remain his secret. You might laugh, but on a catch and release river with fish being caught multiple times over a season, if all the lip-pricks were preceded by a purple light in the water, the fly would lose its edge over time if "everyone" was using the same deal. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not just in Montana- everywhere...

 

Missouri went to 10K yesterday- dry flies are down but nymphing is good.  My son is guiding there tomorrow and Thursday.  Driving to Idaho Falls today to pick up his new boat from Hyde. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to register here in order to participate.

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.