Monday, October 29, 2012

Game On And Hijinks On Willow Creek

After kind of a tough day on Flint Creek we grouped up back at the truck in the late afternoon, cracked a cold brew, and while munching on a snack, Joel said "Let's play a game before we leave."

Running through the property we were on is a small creek, that in most places you can step across, called Willow Creek.  In the fall a good number of brown trout move up into the creek and take up residence in the undercuts and wood piles.  Joel explained that as the creek winds it's way through the property it creats short beats, some as small as a bath tub, and make for a fun game of skills and chance.  We worked out the rotation of who went first, second, third, and fourth and drew up a few rules as well on a scrap piece of paper.   Each angler would have five minutes to work their beat and be encouraged but more likely heckled as the other three looked on.

The point system worked like this...

1 Point - Trout Bumps Fly/Not Hooked
2 Points - Trout Hooked But Not Landed
3 Points - Trout Landed
-1 Point - Fly Tangled On Tree/Brush
-2 Points - Fly Lost
-3 Points - Trout Lost/Fly Broke Off

With everything set we drove to Willow Creek, picked our very best small stream/potentially big fish stick, and favorite fly which I believe were streamers all around in shades of dark yellow and brown.  Thinking back three out of the four of us were fishing glass with both Joel and David using their Fenwick's and I was fishing the Graywolf Rods Signature 805-3.  Mike was the odd man out with one of his carbon fly rods.  Maybe someday he'll learn...

Mike was up first and worked a deep spot where the creek splits in two that ended up being surprisingly empty.  Five minutes later we moved on.

Just up from Mike's beat was a wood pile that wasn't a beat and Joel passed it up to fish a spot just upstream of it.  Curiosity got the best of me and I dropped my streamer a couple feet in front of the wood pile and on the first swing through the edge of the sticks a buttered up brown trout dashed out and slammed the fly.  No points since it wasn't my turn, and I wasn't fishing a "sanctioned" beat, but still this fish made my day.

Joel carefully worked this deep corner without even a bump.  There should have been someone home.

David was next up and had a couple grabs on the deep corner but did not connect.  If I remember correctly Joel worked the undercut to the right and had a couple trout chase his fly.  The undercut must have gone back at least a couple feet as the visible water was just a couple inches deep right up to the edge of the cut bank.

I ended up being blanked on my beat and we moved on after a few minutes. 

Mike was up again and had several chases and bumps on this deep stretch but didn't get one on the hook.

A typical smirk on the face of David while Joel cheers Mike on.  He's one of those fellows that doesn't have to say a word and that face says it all.

There...David's being a good sport now too.  GO MIKE!

Joel was then up again and had a few bumps and follows and a big miss in a spot that you would least expect a trout to be in this beat.  Oh well.  It's fun to see them slash at it anyway.

I was up again and turned a trout and then a couple casts later connected with this beauty of a brown.  This trout ended my trip and our game soon after.  (I think I won.) 

The wind picked up and the sun was dropping low in the sky.  It was time to head back to Missoula for one last night out before we all caught flights home the next day.

As we were driving out from the creek Joel gave his wife Deb a call and she said to meet her at Cafe Dolce where we had a big meal filled with drink, food, and laughter and it was one of those meals that goes on for several hours until everyone is content and completely relaxed.  I can't imagine a better way to end the trip to Montana.   

I just want to give a very special thanks to Joel Thompson of Montana Troutaholic Outfitters (Deb and the pups too) for hosting, housing, and guiding us all week.  We are already scheming our return.


Unknown said...

The pleasure was all ours, Cam. Always good having you and the boys out for some fishing fun. Now we just need to teach Mike that "glass is not dead" and how to eat real food! :) Glad we ended the trip on a high note too.


Anonymous said...

Looks like a great trip, love the photos. Nice brown to cap the day too!

swellcat said...

A "buttered up" broon troot, huh. The fish does look healthy and sports a colourful abdomen.