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Best of All...

“Best of all he loved the fall the fall with the tawny and grey the leaves yellow on the cottonwoods leaves floating on the trout streams and above the hills the high blue windless skies"

by Ernest Hemingway


I've waited a long time to have the time to enjoy my favorite season.  There's never been enough time.  Too many competing interests.  A longbow and rifle required regular mountain walks.  They now gather dust.  Work, well what can be said.  It demanded a lot of time and effort too.  Well, I've retired my counting tray and spatula and shut off the part of my brain that had been devoted to work.    My mind and body can now be re-purposed.  A fly rod beckons.  Make that several.  And fish.  There are too many uncaught trout.  If they're lucky, they'll stay that way.  I plan to have a little say in that matter though. 




So, two weeks into this next life what have I to show?   Well, gas.  You know, for the car.  There's been a half dozen trips to the creek.  Mos…

Where They Live.....

With privilege comes price. 
 The cost?
  A three thousand foot climb.
The reward?
The purest gold in Montana.






Cool Change...

A few days sandwiched between the nineties of summer make for glorious hiking and camping conditions.  Rarely can one backpack on a mid sixty degree August afternoon.  Imagine, summer hiking without breaking a sweat, what a luxury.  Such was the weekend past.
And, like my last trip, bugs were a non issue.  Two mosquitos lit on the back of my hand. That's right, two, the entire weekend.  They took too long working up the nerve to bite and consequently were cheerfully squashed.  Like the saying goes, snooze you lose.  Being able to sit outside and in the tent with the screen door unzipped, sans bugs, was ok by me.
A few clouds and showers rolled through during the afternoon and evening.  Barely enough to wet things down.  The peaceful patter of raindrops on the tent fly made for a relaxing night.
And of course, a few nice fish iced the proverbial weekend cake.


























Into the Burn

Way back in 1910 a series of forest fires torched the Northern Rockies.  Depending on the quoted source, the fires may have numbered in the thousands.  Catastrophic winds at the most inopportune time coalesced many of the fires into a few huge ones.  There was a great loss of life, property and timber.  No doubt a lot of elk got barbecued too.

Well, one of the burned areas straddles the Montana and Idaho border.  Appropriately known as the Great Burn, it's been considered as a candidate for wilderness designation.  I hope that it receives some protection.  It's a neat area.

Here are a few images from a overnight trip to the Montana side of the burn.  The lead photo doesn't do justice to the overwhelming serenity of the morning.




























Although I hiked alone, I had plenty of company.  A pair of inquisitive hummingbirds hovered outside my open tent door while I sipped coffee at daybreak.  Soon after, a moose announced its arrival by belly-flopping into the lake.  Meanwhile, a grea…

Table...

A few images from a short day hike to the north flank of Table Mountain in the Spanish Peaks.  Beautiful blue sky day.  Lush greenery.  Flowers galore.  Most hikers call it quits at Lava lake.












Oh yeah, parmesan crusted fish for lunch.

Up and Down

Up and down.  So go the river levels.  It's absolutely confounding.  Between the rain, runoff from snowmelt and dam releases, fishing conditions change, every day.  
It was eighty-eight degrees early one evening last week.  I usually dread the heat.  But, since a guy doesn't know how many trips around the sun he has left, I went anyway.   The river had dropped to around 2400 c.f.s.  Wading is possible at that level, one can nibble around the edges.  If lucky, I thought that I might find a few rising fish.  Maybe a few caddis too.  They like warm weather.
Shuffling my way through the grass, I stirred up some caddis.  Like hoppers, they were up and right back down into the safety of the grass.  Like me, they were waiting for the wind to die down.
I found a bit of soft water and settled in to watch.  At 7:30 the caddis dance began.

And, soon after, a few fish began to show their noses.  I tied on a nine foot leader, which, after fishing a fourteen or sixteen footer was quite a c…

Window

In between rain drops, a spur of the moment road trip to scratch the fishing itch.  Our local rivers are flooding.  Angling options are few.  With dam discharges on the Bighorn temporarily curtailed to a fishable 6000 c.f.s. this presented a brief window of fishing opportunity. 








The reward for making the drive?
Midges, blue-winged olives and brown trout.  Enough to keep this dry fly fisher happy.