I’ve done lots of driving the past nine days. I’ve been Montana road tripping, sans fly fishing. Given the really nice weather for mid-winter and the constant travel through trout country, its been trying at times. The current landscape is reminiscent of mid-November and it seems like we’ve been in some sort of time warp.
Last Friday morning, I left for Bozeman with my daughter. She had a music scholarship audition at MSU right in the middle of the day. Despite the possibility of squeezing in a couple hours on some trout water, the day was about Keeli, and she was not dressed for winter fishing. I didn’t even bring it up.
On Saturday, I drove South again, headed for Butte. Kyle had 2 hockey games scheduled. They were spaced perfectly to avoid any chance of a quick outing on some trout water.
This Friday after school and work, I was again on the road for Bozeman. Kyle had a game at 7am on Saturday, with the following games at 1:30 and 4:30. After game 1, I sent Kyle off with another family to cruise the town, while Erin took a nap. Shortly after 9 a.m., I had my window to sneak on some water. I had a 4-piece 5wt hidden in the back of the rig under a pile of hockey gear. I quickly pulled my waders on over jeans and entered a slice of the East Gallatin, just minutes from our hotel.
The air was still 22 degrees. An icy slurry of slush cakes rode the currents. On some runs, shelf ice forced me to walk right up the middle of the channel. As I crossed one shaded riffle, my boots squished through a grey netherworld of anchor slush. Conditions seemed a bit arctic, but I knew the warm sun would do its thing.
My goal was to probe a particular hole with a tight line Czech style drift. I set up my leader with a brace of flies and flipped a few drifts. The trout were strong and required a bit of finesse around rocks and ice chunks. A tiny purple zebra midge on 6X was the ticket.
Paul Bloch from the Big R Fly Shop had given me some intel and it was a lock. Thanks Paul. All I needed was a little hit of fishing to round out a great hockey weekend.
The Great Falls American’s Pee Wee Hockey Team gets a WIN!