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Last day and Ryan and I took the drive to fish the same stretch of the Missouri that I had fish on Day 1 and enjoyed much success. You can probably imagine my anticipation and expectation level as I remembered all the 20 inch plus fish we had caught just days before. Oh what a difference a few days make on a trout stream! It became very evident that this would be an altogether different experience. Weather was clear as a bell and windy. No bugs. We saw a few risers and the best fish of the day proved that I still had a lot of work to do with my casting. The wind and cross currents made it impossible for me to put that small dry fly over it without some sort of drag. In frustration I gave the rod to Ryan and told him to have a go at it. Ryan promptly hooked the BIG rainbow but the fish broke him off.
Day 6 was one of frustration for me though I did manage to catch and release a 19 inch rainbow that back at home would have thrilled me beyond belief. I set myself up with expectation that I would duplicate Day 1. Lesson learned.
On the final stretch before the take out as we rounded the final bend that would end my trip on the rivers of Montana bull elk were bugling as the sun went down and that sound is now embedded in my mind for the rest of my days.
So ended my fishing in Montana. The trip and the experiences that it brought far exceeded any realistic expectations I could have dreamed. It was so good that at the time I was convinced that if I were to go back every year I could not match it and in fact would be disappointed. Later trips to Idaho dispelled that notion thankfully. I was also very reluctant to commit to another trip out West because I didn't want a "bad" trip to spoil the memory of the great one I had in Montana.
A few things I learned from this trip that might be of benefit to anyone thinking about doing so in the future:
1. Practice your casting on WINDY days. It will pay big dividends if you do and will haunt you if you don't.
2. Don't even think of going out the first time without hiring a guide. Those guides know what they are doing. They make their living that way. They work hard to put you on fish and should be rewarded based on how hard they work rather than the number or size of your catch.
3. Don't buy a package deal that includes all meals. After breakfast and a supplied lunch some days you just don't want a heavy dinner. If you have prepaid you are going to try to eat that Buffalo Rib Eye whether you want it or not. You already paid for it. Do meals a la carte. It will save you a lot of money.
4. I mentioned before that this was a very expensive trip for me. The majority of the expense was taken by accommodations and the aforementioned dinners. This lodge is a very upscale lodge with incredible rooms and service but by the time I got back to the lodge all I needed was a hot shower and a clean bed. I have since take several other trips to Idaho. The guide costs, license fees and airfare were all about the same cost as it was to Montana but the meals and lodging was less than half of what I had paid in Montana. So you have to decide for yourself I suppose. I would rather take 2 trips to fish than 1. The only way I would go back to the lodge I used in Montana, as great as the experience was, would be if my wife accompanied me. Later trips to Idaho I enjoyed just as much as I did the trip to Montana. I would rate the quality of the experiences as equally enjoyable.
5. Set realistic expectations. Some days might try both your patience and your abilities but a 5 or 6 day trip will give you a realistic shot at an epic day on these Western Rivers.
6. Don't forget your rain gear, warm clothes, camera and the joy of just being out there.
It's an experience you won't soon forget. I really feel blessed to have been able to take this "trip of a lifetime."
Thank you for sharing this trip with us. It has been exciting for me to read the day to day. I totally agree on the lodging situation, Donnie and I both feel that clean and comfortable is all we require when travelling. I dont do fancy
What a great fishing trip. We don't have Trout here in south Louisiana but I have been trout fishing in other states. My only real fly rod knowledge is fishing for Blue Gills and a popping bug.
I enjoyed reading about your trip and would like to encourage others to tell us about their fishing and hunting trips.
Thanks David, its hard to beat a good fishing trip.
Thanks for the kind comments. I would like to add one more thing as a bit of advice.
Keep a journal. This even extends beyond trips like this. Get a journal and good pen and write everyday. Just the highlights. What was good, what you felt, if you had a particularly good shave...whatever. After a while when you go back and read what you have written 2, 5 ,7 years ago you begin to get an idea of how rich and full your life really is and how infrequently we pause to take advantage of it.
A journal helps in a lot other outdoor activities to. I made one for a hunting season or two and was able to refer back to them as a guide for future hunting seasons. I was planning on starting one for this years fishing season.