One of my spring traditions is to escape for some SW Montana fly fishing each year after our ski resort closes, most seasons around the 1st week in April. This year I teamed up with fellow guide and ski bums, Weldon Jones and Max LaPrade. The year as far as snow has been relentless! For avid skiers it was a banner season, face shots all the time is like catching 20" trout all the time, you get a little spoiled quickly. Anyhow, once the resort closes I could care less to see another flake of the white stuff and frankly this year I'm a bit concerned about flooding we've had so much snow... 580" and counting, so you can see it was important to escape to the Banana Belt, a description for the lower elevation areas in SW Montana & Eastern Idaho.
Our trip was on no matter what, so we dug out the driftboat in Victor and by noon we found ourselves drooling over the riffles and seams along the Madison, quickly forgetting our ski lives that have ruled for nearly 5 months(I actually sent the family to Mexico so this was a special "Hall Pass" trip). We realized, once on the water, that it was chilly and we clad ourselves with our backup layers- Down Parkas! Hoping for 50's we got 30's with a stiff wind... the fishing took a little time to figure out but we remained patient and fortunately we had provisions, no spring break trip is complete without beer.
Day 2 & 3: We ventured over to Twin Bridges for a look, hoping to score a day on the Jefferson but it was blown out. We opted for a float on the lower Big Hole River that was still on the high side but fishable... we didn't care, it was new water and we had beer, life is good. We caught a few nice trout that day on streamers but it was not easy, down right tough, even the worm wasn't working. In the afternoon the North wind became too much and the air temp was falling, we began to row off for a couple hours not really sure of our take out... we got our butts kicked and frozen! The next day your all amped for a new day but what does the weather man say? "Winter Storm Warning", @&%#! The folks at our lodge thought we were crazy for going out... we said "ahh, its fine we have down jackets and beer". I admit I was a little concerned because at the boat launch it was 26 degrees and blowing 30+, we got on the water and just ignored the conditions... I thought of my wife&kids on the beach to stay warm. By 2pm we hadn't had much luck, just a few but then the wind just died and the air became calm and warmed to perhaps 34 degrees which felt like the 50 we wanted. Most importantly the trout turned on and we had a banner evening bringing these stunning rainbow & brown trout to hand, you just never know what the day may bring.
Our last day was on the Big Hole again and the weather finally broke for a few hours. Funny enough but not surprising the best day was the day of the storm, at least in a catching sense. We basked in the 45 degree sun floating down the Big Hole telling stories, laughing and sharing some beer, Happy Spring!