Thursday, December 8, 2011
In September of 1998 I arrived in Montana with the intention of fishing some old haunts and exploring a few new ones until I ran out of funds. I started in Livingston and fished the Yellowstone for a few days, some small cutthroat streams and a never to be named on the net water. I then moved camp to the Madison for a week. While it was nice to be back to these great areas I was longing for something new.
One of the positives of camping at takeouts or put ins is the amount of info one can garner from anglers and guides. One question to ask any guide is "If you had a couple of days off where would you fish"? Some replied "I can't tell you". That's fair enough. We all should have places that are special or sacred to us. Many more said "The Missouri in Craig". At this time the Missouri wasn't really on the radar compared to today. I headed to Craig a day later.
I arrived in Craig and got some camping/fishing info in town. I felt really comfortable with the size of the river and the vibe of the place. I started with a streamer rig and was into fish almost instantly. This went on for a while before I started noticing all the heads poking up. Baetis were hatching at an impressive rate. I ditched the streamer rod and grabbed the four weight. The day passed by without me noticing. I found what I'd been looking for.
Those days are still a blur. But they went something like this. Get up, eat, rig up, fish streamers or nymphs until the blue wings started, snack, hydrate, fish until dark, make dinner, sleep. Repeat. I lived off Ramen, peanut butter, bagels, tuna, mac & cheese, Powerbars and Schmidt's beer. I fished in sun, rain, sleet, snow and wind. This was my world.
I caught fish that truly amazed me. Backing is something many trout anglers never see. I saw backing alot. My mind's eye still sees those fish I lost in the weed beds. I learned so much in the time I was on that river. Skills that make a huge difference today. Total immersion in any subject produces skills that never leave you.
Twenty seven days later I left and returned to Maine wind burnt, tired, underweight and broke. The perfect trip. I first worried about the future of this wonderful river and the possibility of losing what I had experienced. I don't worry about that so much anymore as it has many more friends since I left. I've gotten what I was looking for on the Missouri. To get an idea of what the Missouri is about check this video out.
Find your inner dirtbag and go.