Scott's Outdoor Blog

Monday, July 23, 2012

Back towards Livingston

   We left Ennis after lunch, headed back East towards the Yellowstone.  We would be arriving too late for an evening float, but too early to call it a night.  After five days without a real shower, we decided to get a motel room in Livingston.  With a cozy camp secured within walking distance of civilization, we headed downtown for the evening.

We stopped in the Owl Bar for a few drinks and some time to adjust.  Interesting place, Owl Bar, with an odd collection of figurine decor above the bar, and a flashlight handed to you whenever you needed to use the restroom.  The Murray Bar across the street was supposed to be the place to be, and with the rodeo in town for the 4th, we figured we needed to acclimate a bit before wanderin' over there.

The Murray Bar wasn't quite hoppin' yet when we arrived either, giving us a chance to grab a stool and check the place out.  Bayes noticed the wall covered in framed shadow-boxes containing a photo, signature, and favorite fly of some pretty famous tiers/fishermen that have bellied up to the bar at one time or another over the years.  The place eventually began to fill in as Austin singer/songwriter Leo Rondeau and band took the one step up to the stage.  They started out with an interesting selection of great covers that you rarely (if ever) hear done.  As the night went on and the crowd loosened up they started slipping some originals into the mix.  We liked these guys a lot, and we ended up having to drag Rachel off the dance floor so we could get out of there before the night really turned the corner.  We did have WANT to get up early to fish the Yellowstone in the morning. 

We woke up surprisingly early and made it up to the Carbella Bridge access in good time.  This was the first overcast day of the trip, and we were eager to see how the fish reacted.

 It wasn't the lights-out fishing we were hoping for, but we were definitely getting takes fairly regularly.  Again, hookups were a different story.  If there was a "hot" fly that day, Rachel had it.  It seemed like she was getting fish to rise on that thing every time I turned around, but I think this is the only one she hooked.

We pulled the boat up and stopped for a wonderful lunch of bacon sandwiches courtesy of the Best Western continental breakfast bacon bucket that Bayes raided that morning.

But the most memorable part of the day occurred after lunch.  In an effort to fish water that "gets less pressure", we took a side channel off to the left, knowing it would eventually meet back up with the main.  We were questioning our decision fairly early on, as one of the first obstacles we encountered was a fast narrow chute along a bend with a wicked strainer covering more than half the channel.  It got a little tense as Bayes pulled hard on the oars with the giant fallen over tree coming up fast.  Once we cleared it, the river immediately turned right and widened out into a slower open stretch.  We thought we were in the clear when Bayes and I looked at each other and spoke simultaneously.

"Do ya hear that?"  We said to each other, both hearing the distant sound of rushing water.  Looking down river we couldn't figure out why the sound was getting louder and louder, but it was.

We both saw this movie before, so we decided to pull the boat to shore and go survey the situation. 

Yep, that'll do it.  Now we had a problem.  The boat was too heavy to pick up and carry around the falls, and we had went a long ways downstream after we cut off the main channel.  Looking about a hundred yards upriver we saw what might be our saving grace.  We decided to pull the boat back to check it out.

After pulling the boat upriver as far as possible before a high bank, we hopped in and shot across as fast as possible.  There it was.  Only option.

The shoreline willows were too dense for anyone to want to crawl through them to do any scouting ahead.  We simply pushed in there and hoped for the best.

After rounding each blind bend, we were relieved to see another short, unimpeded stretch of skinny water.  Although the quarters were getting tighter.

Fortunately, pushing through those last willows revealed a clear path back to the "secondary" channel.

And better yet, we were now below the drop!

That detour definitely added a little spice to the day.  I was even able to get one more nice brown before our takeout at Emigrant.

Only one river left before the long drive back to Kansas.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Montana Roadtrip: Madison float

Bad news at the fly shop in Butte.  The Big Hole was probably too low to float.  But when heading to the Madison is plan B you know you're doing something right.  We turned south off 90 and took 287 toward Ennis.  287 does something tricky in Ennis (according to this map reader).  Apparently you have two choices of which 287 you want to continue on through town.  Fortunately we took the correct route, but only after unexpectedly arriving in Virginia City and having to turn back to Ennis.  Cool town, but not what we were after.  I tried to convince the driver and other passenger that this view of the Madison River Valley was something we should feel lucky to see, as it was a pleasant departure from the itinerary. 

It was a tough crowd, but we made it back to Ennis (that's Ennis like tennis, not Ennis like penis according to locals).  After seeing the other sign for 287 going out of town, they agreed it was indeed a no-fault mistake.
Finally heading up the valley to look for a campground.

Here's a few pics from around camp.

Had to go lookin' for bugs! 

We woke up to a chilly morning, packed up camp, and were on the water before 7.  The water was definitely moving a bit faster than the Missouri, and had enough obstacles to get a little practice in behind the oars. 


 The water was great, and it was a lot of fun chuckin' 3" giant stone flies, but we probably should have tried something else.  The fishing was pretty slow.  We all probably had 4 or 5 fish apiece come up and try and eat the thing, but most of the fish were small, and we couldn't get a hook up.  Bayes finally came through with a nicer sized brown.  

 The float went quicker than we anticipated, and we were at the takeout by a little after noon.  The water was great, the scenery was even better, but the fish flat kicked our butts.  We decided to check another river off our list and move on.  Plus, it was the 4th of July and we had to find a beer somewhere.  Lunch in Ennis took care of that.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Montana: Part 2

Money well spent!  This baby opens up so many options we don't have a clue what to do with ourselves!  The guy we bought the boat from said the Missouri was fishing great, so we headed to Craig. 

Made it to town just in time to set up camp, hit the fly shop, and walk on over to Joe's Bar hoping to do some more in depth research.  Everyone was in good spirits and feeling lucky to be here.

The next morning we were on the water by 8 am.  But up there it starts getting light at 4:30, so we weren't exactly early.  The next 7 or 8 hours went like this:

This place was amazing.  The weather was perfect, the water was perfect, and the fish were healthy and hungry.  We floated from the dam to Craig 2 days, catching fish pretty consistently the whole time.  All of us had "the big one that got away" story, and all of us knew that leaving to explore new waters would probably be a mistake.  We broke camp that afternoon anyways and headed towards Butte.  Would it be the Big Hole or the Madison in the morning?  We would decide at the fly shop...