September 26-27, 2003

Paul and I met up in Missoula on Thursday. The idea was to drive his boat down to the Slide Inn and float the Madison for a couple days. And that's pretty much what happened. In Missoula we had a nice lunch with Terbo and then made the long drive to nearly West Yellowstone. Unfortunately for us, we got to the Slide Inn after 7pm and the shop was closed. When we finally got ahold of Kelly it was 10:30 and the place was full. We had a nice first night at the very comfortable Hebgen Lake Lodge instead. The first day we floated from Lyons Bridge to Ruby Creek. We got started around 10:30am and finished up about 7pm. That was a long day. The weather was perfect though -- sunny and warm. Too bad the fishing wasn't as great as the weather. We each tried a variety of flies and techniques and didn't get much. Finally I started stripping a streamer and hooked two really big trout within 5 minutes. The one I landed was a big brown. We ate dinner that night again at the Grizzly Bar. Good food although a bit pricey. Early the next morning I fished the channel outside the Slide Inn. well, me and three others croweded in there. After about 20 minutes and 6 fly changes I gave it up. Today we floated from McAtee Bridge to Varney Bridge. This was a little shorter trip. Lots of boats with us -- it felt like a flotilla. Late in the day it did spread out. The water level seeemed a bit low. The boat smacked against rocks repeatedly despite our best efforts to avoid them. The second day we did a little better on hoppers and droppers. But in retrospect, we liked yesterday's float better because there was more structure (rocks) to fish around. The stretch today was a really monotonous riffle. On Sunday, we drove back to Missoula. The return drive took about 2 1/4 hours. Paul got back to Seattle in something like 14 hours.