Carol Northcut | Wednesday, 21 September 2022

A four-mile hike in waders and we didn’t find the way to the mainstem creek. Rather than trying to bushwhack over half-a-mile in unfamiliar territory, we decided to hike down a closed forest road. It was not the way less traveled, but it wasn’t traveled much. Surely it must lead to the creek. Four miles later we realized how stupid it was not to (a) ask if there is a guide map to fishing local creeks and/or (b) buy a map app for the phone, like Onyx. We seem to learn things the hard way. Back down the road a mile or so was a local trail system that we knew led to the creek directly with little bushwhacking. We succumbed to the way more traveled.

The creek was clear and cold. There were innumerable braids and gravel bars with large snags creating plunge pools.  In June, the same catastrophic rain event that flooded the Yellowstone River had come through here. We didn’t know the creek before that storm but suspect that it too had suffered tremendous flooding. That would explain why some of the substrate was clean small cobbles and other areas were cemented in silt and why overlooks were closed due to erosion. It was stunning to see the effects of nature, even in the thick Montana haze.

The eager dinks were ready to take whatever was thrown at them. The largest fish caught was a 6” West Slope Cutthroat. Not liking to catch small fish, I tied on a #14 Bank Beetle. The voracious dinks persistently tried to take it but, as planned, it was too much for them. It was time to make our way out and back home, exhausted but finally appeased.

On our next adventure, we’ll carry unneeded (this time) bear spray and have a much-needed map app. We’d like to explore the upper 20 miles of this creek where both things will be welcome.  Our expensive out-of-state licenses are good only till November 30 when the season ends for stream/river fishing, so we need to break away from home improvement and small-forest management to fish. We are much happier when we do.