October 12-16, 2002

It was good to get back in the saddle again. I think often of Montana, usually with good memories. When I go back I want it to be same all over again. But for better, and for worse, it never is. But it's always good.

Day one started with me flying into Missoula and Paul driving there from Seattle. After checking into about the cheapest motel we could find, we drove out to Rock Creek. Hmmm, no fisherman here. With hopes that they were all missing the best fishing possible, we hit the river. The autumn leaves were at their peak colors. Cold, windy air and cold, low water made the fishing very slow. Even had a few snow flurries. I think we both got a few hits but we didn't exactly start with a bang.

On the morning of day two we hit the Clark Fork downstream from Missoula. We fished the north side of the large public access area. The sun was out, the air was warm, still no bugs in the air though. We fished pretty hard, trying every trick in the book. From tiny dries to big streamers, we fished from top to bottom. Again, a few hits, but we smelled like skunk. A few days latter, I'd learn the secret that would have helped.

In the late afternoon we drove south from Missoula to the Bitterroot near Florence. Trout were surfacing here and there. Paul did well at a gravelly drop-off, catching trout and whitefish. I sight-casted, targeting rising fish. It was tough to make the long cast, manage the drift, etc., etc. Hmm, I smell skunky. We fished until it was dark and we were hungry.

Back in Missoula, we hooked up with Terbo and Rando for a few drinks and some food.

Day three was Paul's last day here. He still had to drive back to Seattle today. In the morning, we went back to Rock Creek where it was much nicer than before. Although I didn't see any rising fish, I used an elk hair caddis to the best of my ability. My casting was dead-on and I caught a couple of nice trout in tiny, tiny eddies just inches from the bank. Beautiful fish.

In the afternoon, I took a drive up the Blackfoot to rekindle old memories. I stopped at places I had been to before and new places as well. It was good to reflect and have some time to think. In other words, the fishing was again slow, but the sights were nice.

On day four I hired a professional. Dave, my guide from the Missoulian Angler, took me down the Clark Fork below Missoula. The put-in and take-out spots will remain a secret. However, the key to fishing this river in the fall (well, at least one of them) is to fish when the water warms up. We didn't do that a couple days before. Instead, we spent that time driving around. Simply put, I clobbered the rainbows on this day. Big, fat rainbows on a tiny size 20 BWOs that were trimmed to float low in the water. Most of the time I couldn't even see the fly. We found the trout in big eddies, especially in the foam lines. This where large numbers of fish would gulp at everything in the surface. There were a couple runs that stretched for a hundred yards along the outside bends of the river where the fish just lined up for the taking. The fish kept surfacing even as the sun began to set. It was truly a great day of fishing.