THE DETAILS

Belt Creek,
Monarch, MT

Saturday, July 31, 1993

An absolutely beautiful day &endash; about 75 and not a cloud in sight. First, took a look at the Sluice Boxes. The creek seemed crowded at the bridge and far away at the Historical Site.

Then drove upriver to Logging Creek Camp. Apparently it's privately owned and inhabited by backwoods-trailer types. Drove back up the road, which is pretty bad over its 8 miles, to the beginning of the horse trail to Pilgrim Creek. Followed the trail for 1 mile to Belt Creek. It's an easy hike and would be great mountain biking.

At the creek, access was still difficult. I fished it downstream on and off along the abandoned railroad bed. Extremely tough going and no fish caught. Had a strenuous hike nearly straight up to the truck.

Then checked out the area between Monarch and Neihart. On National Forest property, the access from the highway is pretty good. Lots of turnoffs and plenty of room to walk up and down the road. Caught 3 rainbows and 3 browns in 3 hours at various pulloffs and campgrounds. One fat rainbow was over 13 inches and a keeper. As soon as I hooked it, it swam straight at me and swam at my feet. After a while I pulled it out and set it in my lap. Then, it thrashed like crazy and fell into the creek breaking my tippet and taking my leader.

Fished light brown nymphs the entire time, having good luck with medium to medium-large bead head hares ear and gold-ribbed hares ear.

Took a look at Dry Fork Belt Creek &endash; the books say it's not much good, but I didn't try. At any rate, there's lots of good primitive camping along the roadside.

 

Friday, August 6, 1993

On a somewhat overcast evening, I tried the section just below Memorial Falls and across the highway. There's a few nice camping sites (free!) and the creek is nice, but it's hard to fish. Very narrow and quite an incline. A old man camping there said two guys caught 50 fish in the area, so there are trout although I got none. Probably worth another try.

 

Saturday, August 7, 1993

Took Jeanelle's brother-in-law Greg and her uncle Pat out to some of the sections I had tried last week. In the late morning, I caught two right away and Greg caught his first ever. In the late afternoon, Greg and I returned to the old bridge structure and caught lots just above and below here using a bead head nymph. Most were 7-9 inches but a few got up to 14 inches. Switched to a dry Royal Wulff and caught a couple including a cutthroat. The dry fly worked very well in the small pools behind rocks and in the stretches that aren't too wild.

 

Wednesday, September 8, 1993

After work I tried several different spots, some old and some new, but caught nothing. I only saw one trout surface the entire time and I stayed until it was dark.

 

Sunday, October 24, 1993

Began in early evening, now about 4:00, with swirling winds. Tried the old bridge structure but caught nothing. Did catch a nice 10 inch brown below the big boulder on a hare's ear. It took the fly so soft, I didn't even realize I had one till I was ready to cast again.

Went to a new spot across from the Sun Mountain Ranch near the road to Camp Rotary. Wish I had found this before - lots of deep and wide pools. Caught a fat 10 inch brown (which I kept) on the same hare's ear in the pool next to the turnout.

Then, I walked downstream about fifty yards and found the best pool I've seen on Belt Creek. I switched to an elk hair caddis and a fat 15 inch brown - my biggest trout ever. I put it on the bank to admire it, but it flopped away into the water. If I had had the time to really admire it, I probably would of kept it.

I tried to catch it again with a Royal Coachman since there was a caddis hatch going on, but no luck. It still had my elk hair fly firmly lodged in its jaw. Must hit these pools again.

 

Saturday, March 19, 1994

I originally started out to hike/bike around the Logging Creek camp area, but I would have needed chains to get the six miles to the camp.

Ended up hiking up Belt Creek from the Sluice Boxes. The hike started plain enough, but soon I was traversing the steep cliffs along the west side of the creek. The water was fairly clear and I could see all the way to the bottom. Looks like pretty good fishing, although I didn't see any. I probably went upriver a mile and a half before I stopped for lunch and enjoyed the sun high above the creek.

On the way back I first saw and chased a sage grouse and shortly after found a good-sized deer antler. The best fishing in this area (and by far most accessible) comes just before the abandon house on the opposite side of the river. I imagine if I could ford the creek at the house, I could hit some nice holes further upstream.

 

Saturday, April 30, 1994

Began hiking high up on the hill on this cool, sunny day at the Belt Creek Historical Site. Last time, I stopped near here, so I tried to learn more about the area by starting here. The trail shows much more of the abandoned rail road bed. There are several wooden bridges to cross and even a tunnel through the rock. For the most part, the hike is level and straight, high above the water. Occasionally where a bridge is out or the trail goes to the other side of the creek, the trail drops to water level.

After about an hour and a half, stopped for lunch in the middle of the section where the railroad bed crosses the stream several times. As I sat on old concrete support, I watched a pool filled with trout rising to mayflies. (This is the second week I've seen mayflies this year.) I think they were all brown and rainbow. Many were the biggest trout I'd ever seen in the creek, much bigger than the one I landed last fall.

On the way back, I met a guy who was picking up trash along the creek. I was surprised he was so far from his truck. He says further upstream there are some old mine workings. Perhaps when I come back to fish that hole, I'll see the workings. I also found some feathers I plucked off a dead bird. They're black with white spots on the edges, and light brown with black and white tips.

 

Sunday, May 24, 1994

I hiked from the state monument with my fly rod in hand. After an hour and a half of sunny weather, I returned to the hole I had checked out before.

Although the fish weren't rising, I did catch three rainbows on a bead head nymph. Two were 12 inches and one was eight. On the way back, I stopped at the huge eddy on the other side of the river I had previously admired. I couldn't reach it because it was two far away and the rapids were too swift. I also stopped at the first concrete abutment and caught one nice rainbow in the eddy just downstream. Nice day (a few sprinkles), nice hike.

 

Friday, June 10, 1994

After work, fished a few holes around the Rotary Camp. Although the weather was very nice, no hatch occurred. The water seems a bit high and cold for really good fishing yet. Still, caught 3 rainbows in different holes and had many other strikes.

 

Sunday, August 14, 1994

Took Redwood from the Sluiceboxes atop the hill. We waded upstream until the canyon got narrow. Lots of people out floating and jumping off the cliffs. Nice, warm afternoon and evening, although nothing was hatching. Water was very low, but that made wading much easier.

Caught one cutthroat, two rainbows and two large whitefish. Used a bead head for a long time, but it did nothing. When I switched to flies &emdash; caddis and royal wulff &emdash; I began to get strikes.

Met one other guy fishing. He had hiked up the road quite a ways and fished downstream. He didn't seem to know where he was or what he was doing. I helped him find he trail back to his car and apparently he got home. He certainly wasn't enjoying himself as much as I was.

Redwood has really taken to swimming. He would swim up and down the creek anywhere he pleased. Sometimes even into my holes, but after a while he learned not to go in them when I told him not to.

 

Saturday, August 27, 1994

Took Chris and Redwood to the Sluice Boxes in the afternoon. We fished for a while near the lower parking area, and that's where we saw the most trout. All were hand-size, though. Stayed until dusk, but the fish never started to rise like they did last time. Didn't even see any whitefish. Chris caught three or four, and I only caught one.

 

Saturday, May 20, 1995

Redwood and I hiked from the Sluice Boxes to the fishing spot at the downed abutments. It was a perfect spring day - a few puffy clouds, warm breeze and buds on the trees. Caught a 10-inch rainbow even though the water was high and muddy. Beautiful views up and down the canyon. Part of the trip I stayed high up along the creek, a nice change.

 

Saturday, July 29, 1995

Began at the parking lot near the creek and headed upstream with fly rod. Waded for a while in my Tevas but the water was brutally cold. Caught one strong 10-inch rainbow at the first set of abutments and had one other hit there.

I waded across the creek twice to avoid the tough, roundabout trail. The creek was at a good normal level which made the crossing tougher than I've ever had it. The weather kept changing from warm and sunny to sudden downpour with cold, hard winds.

Ran into some high school kids drinking beer and getting ready to take a swim. Looked like fun and reminded me of what it was like to be that age.

Did catch one more rainbow at the abutments far upstream. No insects were hatching so it was all done with a bead head. On the way back I took the trail to bypass crossing the creek. It was totally overgrown and very difficult. Should have waded across seeing as how I was already drenched from the rain.

The next day I came down with a terrible case of poison ivy. I'm sure I picked it up when I was going through the thick, overgrown weeds and bushes.

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