After a day on the Bitterroot River, guide Joel Thompson of Montana Troutaholic Outfitters decided to change gears a bit and took us back to a ranch property that he has access to. These is a neat place since there is a good stretch of river, a irrigation flow that can also hold trout, and a pond near the small house.
It was a warm day for October where waders weren't needed and there was hardly a cloud in the sky. Not exactly great baetis weather and we were hoping that a larger dry fly or hopper would get the trouts attention. It did but they weren't exactly falling all over themselves for dry flies. Everyone caught a few brown trout that plucked hoppers off in the riffles or bumped a streamer falling of edges and undercuts.
We all made our way back to the Suburban by mid-afternoon and settled in
for an hour or so around the picnic table for lunch of all our
cheese, crackers, and meat leftovers from the day before. My buddy Dave had handcrafted a
charcuterie board, complete with a serving handle to make it easy to use
in the drift boat and burned Joel's family brand into it as well. He
even carved out places to hold three shot glasses and a magnetic near the handle to hold the knife in place.
After our late lunch, we all put $20 on the table and made our way near where the creek flows into the river and played a game of sorts where we each get a turn in the various bends and beats upstream. During your turn, you get three casts and there is a positive/negative point system for catching a trout, getting a take, losing a trout, losing your fly, etc. Each time I've fished this stretch it's laid out differently with new pockets, undercuts, and downed trees. Sometimes it can be really, really good with larger browns moving in and other times it's more or less empty. It all depends on the day, the flow, and the season. I got distracted by fishing behind everyone but if I remember correctly, Joel and Mike both caught trout during their turns and we called it a tie. They split the kitty. It's all in good fun and a great way to end the day on this special piece of ranch water.
If you ever find yourself in the Missoula area and are looking for a guide to spent the day with, look up Montana Troutaholic Outfitters. I can't promise you that he'll take you to the ranch, but it'll be a day well spent.