Late Summer Travels - Part One

Sean Visintainer - 09/10/19

A large brown trout that fell prey to a foam grasshopper dry on the Beaverhead River, Montana.

Big Sky, Big Browns

I'm back! After a week off for an annual road trip with Jen I'm back to the grind here at the shop and kicking it off with some fresh photos and trip reports. We try to sneak over to Montana at various times of the year, but at the end of summer like to get a full week in on different rivers and usually some Yellowstone Park activities.

For those that follow our social media you already saw some post I did about the Beaverhead so for part one of the blog series I thought I could provide a quick Beaverhead River report.

It had been many years since I fished the Beaverhead River, possibly a decade, but we had some incredible reports from there this summer so I had to check it out for myself. Fishing was not "red hot", but it was consistent enough to keep it interesting and keep your head in the game.

We had arrived Sunday afternoon to a sweltering hot Labor Day weekend in southwest Montana. After a quick visit to Frontier Anglers in Dillon we settled on an evening float from Pipe Organ to Grasshopper Cr. Reports of good hopper fishing and evening crane fly fishing were fairly accurate. Hoppers rose some fish before the sun settled, and of course euro rigs stuck a few more, then once the sun settled we switched over to a crane fly rig.

I didn't have time to tie up crane flies prior to the trip, and the shop in Montana was out, but opted for some tan chubby chernobyls. We rigged them on euro rods with the chubby as the upper fly on a 4-6" tag, and a lightly weighted beadhead caddis pupa as the dropper "point" fly. The idea was to high stick the chubby and make it skitter / bounce on the surface mimicking the natural erraticness of crane flies. The bottom weighted fly acting as an anchor to really create some great skittering from the chubby.

The technique was exhausting to say the list because you were constantly keeping your arm raised and dancing the fly across the surface. It was effective though, Jen was able to get some explosive eats from some large trout. They were hard to pin with the hook, but the last one of the day was a chunky brown and great way to end the evening.

The next day we floated lower towards the town of Dillon. After the first mile weeds choked the river, but we were able to find some hawg brown trout on foam hoppers when we happened across the right pool. The upper portions of the float had some good nymphing water with clean gravel bottoms so we mixed in some euro nymphing with caddis pupa and picked up some thick fish on subsurface rigs.

After spending a couple days camping at Clark's Canyon CG on the "Beav" we ventured over to the Gardiner near Yellowstone National Park. On the drive over we spent a couple hours at the Nevada and Virginia City and toured some of the old ghost town buildings. Well worth the stop if you like to mix in some tourist activities and learn a little bit about the old west on your road trip through Montana. The self tour in Nevada City was $8/person, I would also recommend visiting the ice cream shop in Virginia City if you have a sweet tooth.

Hopper fishing the Beaverhead River, Montana

Euro nymphing the Beaverhead River in Montana can be quite productive!

Abstract star photo while camping at Clark's Canyon Reservoir near Dillon, Montana.

A healthy crane fly eater on the Beaverhead River, Montana.