My Curtis Creek

A hybrid rainbow and cutthroat trout from Montana

Everyone should have one.  A secret place where they can go and get away.  Near or far.  Easy to get to, or hard as hell.  Others may know about it, or maybe no one (although few such places exist anymore.)

My Curtis Creek?  It's a place that I fish infrequently.  It takes a bit of effort making it to the water. There's some hiking involved.  Then there's the blowdown.  Most years, I'm content just knowing that it exists.  Every once in a while though, I get the urge to return.

The first visit, I wet waded.  Even in late August, the water was frigid.  I caught fish, but, what I remember most, was the hours that it took to regain the feeling in my lower legs.

I went back a few years later.  This time I packed waders.  It was a bit too early in the season. The water ran swift.  I didn't want to chance wading.  Good move.

More years passed.  I went back, as in a couple of days ago.  The water was lower.  It still ran fast. Did I mention that there's lots of blowdown?  Just getting to the stream was a #@%! pain in the butt, especially while wearing waders.  Logjams make for dicey wading in some spots.  But, get a fly in the water, and a scrappy trout will be the reward.  Years of intermingling of the native cutthroats and introduced rainbows have produced all manner of hybrids.  Some show more rainbow characteristics, others more cutthroat.  All pretty just the same.

Logjam on a Montana Creek

It may be a couple of years before I go back, or maybe never.  I'll always remember the fish, and the blowdown timber, and how smart I thought I was to pack waders.

So, in praise of small out of the way streams,  I'll end with this quote from Sheridan Anderson and his fine primer on fly fishing,  The Curtis Creek Manifesto:

"Is there really a Curtis Creek?  ........ Possibly, my darlings, quite possibly: but I will say no more because that is your final lesson:  to go forth and seek your own Curtis Creek - a delightful, unspoiled stretch of water that you will cherish above all others... there are few Curtis Creeks in this life, so when you find it, keep its secret well........"


  1. Lester
    All true fly fisherman need that hard to get to out of the way place they call their honey hole; I can relate to the cold water wading, as in last week’s trip on our tailrace, when I decided to wade in short with my waders, with the water temps in the mid fifties. I’ll wear long pants next time with my waders. Did you suit up after you made the hike? Beautiful area you were fishing, how did you fish the fast water and what length fly rod and fly were you using? I wish I lived closer because that is my kind of stream fishing. Thanks for sharing

    1. Oh yeah, you bet I suited up after getting in there. I'd still be walking if I hadn't. It is a pretty area. I use the same old three weight, it's 9 1/2 feet long. Almost no casting involved. Nine foot leader (probably too long), a bead head prince, flip, mend, let it sink a little, and they eat it. I try to "cherry pick" the softer water. I did see a few fish pick off caddis in the softer seams, so that would have been an option too. Mostly, I just prospect. After a few fish I'm pretty happy and have a good idea as to what's in the water. No need to pound 'em.

      Thanks for coming along Bill.

  2. Pretty fish! I too have a C. Creek or two that I fish with a short rod, a 6 or 7-footer because the water is small but sweet. I don't mention 'em much in particular, but have to worry that, for all their inaccessibility or privacy, they will fall prey to the gas and oil drillers. Sometimes knowing that others know of your favorite spots helps the situation if push comes to shove in these modern days.

    1. Yes Walt, it's a tough call trying to decide whether to publicize a spot, or not, in order to "save it" from development.

      I've got a couple of 7 1/2 footers that I used to fish a lot. They're relatively lifeless compared to the longer 3 wt. The added length hasn't hindered casting. Walking through the brush is a little more challenging though.

  3. Reminds me of a place I try to get to at least once a year. Six hour drive, small fish but pristine wild trout and I never see a soul.Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks for the visit Atlas. I'm sure that the drive makes the experience even more worthwhile.


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