Ok I’m really sorry that’s it’s been almost a month since my last update but I have a really good excuse. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past week you probably know that I finally made it further west than Bowling Green and made it all the way to Montana. My wife and kids took an all girls road trip to St. Augustine to soak up the sun and left me to my own devices. What’s a fly fishing addict to do? I called some friends and bought some plane tickets. The stars and planets aligned on this one and I hit the man-cation lottery. My facial hair immediately began growing at an abnormal rate.
Many of you have met Troy Humphrey. He’s a close friend and fellow guide who helps us out a ton when he’s guiding on the Cumberland. It just so happens that he lived in Montana for a decade and knows the place like the back of his very sunburned hand. It also should be mentioned that he is spending the summer in Montana….with his boat….and not a whole lot to do. This is where Chester and I come in. Plane tickets in hand, we embark on an epic journey into the unknown. Our bags were loaded with rods, flies, camping gear, and lots of clean underwear. You can’t pack too much underwear. (Pro Tip)
Troy met us at the airport in Billings and we began taking pictures of the beautiful landscape. We were immediately informed that Billings is to Montana as Gary is to Indiana. We headed west….way, way, way west into the Madison River Valley for our first night. We were greeted by a spectacular mountain sunset as the “Super Moon” rose on the opposite ridge. We were pumped and we hadn’t even wet a line. After a spectacular night of camping we set off on the Madison’s 100 mile riffle for the first two days. Words can’t describe this place. The fish are wild and crazy. The water is cold, fast, and clear. Good luck watching your fly as you try to take in the breathtaking scenery. I’m a die hard fisherman that found myself sitting down and taking breaks just to look around. We caught tons of fish but it didn’t matter. We were in paradise. Everyone says that trout live in beautiful places. Man…do they ever.
Over the next week we burned through a hundred gallons of gas fishing the Madison, Missouri, Big Hole, and Gallatin rivers. I had the worst salad I’ve ever eaten in Ennis. Troy actually took a shower in the Ruby Valley. Chet bought a hat from every fly shop we saw. And we slept on some dude’s roof somewhere outside of Billings.
The Mo was the big fish river. Chet landed a pig rainbow on a dry fly and I landed one of my personal best browns on a zebra midge of all things. The Gallatin was the most technical river being the smallest and all wade fishing. At the end of the week it felt like we had just got there. We camped initially because we wanted to save money but once we rented a cabin we were mad that we didn’t camp that night. If you go to Montana you really need to camp. The scenery is better than any five star hotel and Montana has campgrounds everywhere. For $8 a night you get a campsite with a fire pit, a bear proof locker, and a toilet. The toilet alone is worth way more than eight bucks. I might also mention that for the entire week I never once saw litter anywhere on the rivers or on the campsites. These folks get it. Nature is their tourist attraction and they take darn good care of it.
So that’s about all I can say without boring you on all things Montana. If you want to see pictures of three idiots lost in the mountains I highly suggest you like Cumberland Drifters Guide Service on Facebook. I posted all of the goodies on there.
While I was on vacation the boys back home continued to get the job done on the Cumberland. Turns out it’s summer here in Kentucky and the fish have gone into the typical summer mode of hiding under rocks in high sun and being very picky. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still fishing well. It’s just not May out there. That’s not really a surprise since it’s almost August. Connor has jumped right in and got the job done over the past few weeks putting some really nice fish to the net on various patterns. The Rainbow Warrior has done well for him. Mike put lots of fish in the boat on midge patterns as well as prince nymphs and pheasant tails. Connor had a client boat a pig last week on a purple bugger when the generation was picking up late in the day. The picture above shows you what can happen with the right presentation during rising water.
It’s been an amazing summer so far on the Cumberland and places far west. Aside from the 23″ brown I landed on the Mo, we’re catching bigger rainbows in Kentucky than we caught in Montana. That’s saying something. Our guides are getting it done out there. They know the water and it shows. I couldn’t be happier to call these folks my colleagues and friends. I hope you get the chance to fish with all of them.
I get the honor of actually guiding the owner of my favorite fly shop this weekend. If you see Gene in my boat please tell him how much you love his fly shop and pledge to spend your Christmas bonus on rods this winter. If you can’t commit to that just stop by the Lexington Angler and check it out. Support your local fly shop. I can’t say it enough. They keep us in business and you keep them in business. There’s an economics lesson in there somewhere but I’m too tired to explain.
Folks get out there and fish. We have good low water on the Cumberland. It’s good and cold and the fish are happy if you hit it before the TVA flushes you to Burkesville. We are getting lots of calls but with Troy getting back from Montana next week and Connor filling some weekdays before the fall semester we can probably get you out there whenever you want to go.
I’m back on my home river this weekend. Please say hello when the green wooden boat floats by. Thanks again to all of you weirdos for reading this thing. Now get back to work. Your boss is probably thinking about blocking this site.
See you on the water,