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Fish Camp 2020 - Salmon flys on the Blackfoot River

Updated: Aug 25


FISH CAMP 2020


Michael, Andy and I were able to carve out a weekend for fishing for an event we like to call "Fish Camp". The last time we got together was for a kayak bass trip on the John Day River in central Oregon. This time we all rendezvoused along the Blackfoot River in Western Montana to chase trout during the salmon fly hatch. This year we added a few bonus guests. Most importantly Andy's son Alex came along. Alex is 7 years old and was looking to land his first fish. We also had our new Lab "Mack" on the trip. We were also joined at night by my daughter Jessyca and Michael's girlfriend Emily.


Fish Camp 2018 on there John Day River in Central Oregon


I arrived at Clearwater Junction at about 7:00pm Thursday night. Andy pulled his RV down from Kalispell and met me there. Due to the enormous camping pressure brought on by Covid19, we did not have much luck finding a camp site that night, so we camped "hillbilly style" for the night in a vacant field.


We were scheduled to meet Michael at 9:00 am the next morning, so we got up early and scouted out camp sites in order to establish a true home base for the trip. The best we could do was a day camp area by the side highway 200. It was not perfect, but it would do.


We met Michael at Clearwater Junction and headed to the launch at the Harry Morgan Campground and boat launch near the town of Ovando. When we got to the launch we were amazed to see that the most premium campsite was unoccupied. It was a beautiful spot, right next to the river. We quickly secured the campsite, launched the boat, and Andy and Michael went back to get the RV. Within an hour we had the RV set up, our base camp was perfect, and we were ready to head down the river for our first day of fishing

Mack & Andy at basecamp set up at the Harry Morgan Campground

on the North Fork of the Blackfoot River


We put in on the North Fork of the Blackfoot River. This is a gorgeous section of crystal clear water. It did not take long for Andy to land the first fish of the trip. A beautiful Cutthroat caught on a salmon fly.

Michael, Alex and Andy with the first fish of the trip!

A beautiful Blackfoot river cutthroat!


We floated from the Harry Morgan campground down to Russel Gates. It was a full day float, and although we caught several fish, it was not a banner day. We made it back to base camp at around 8:00pm and I cooked dinner of fish tacos from the rockfish I had caught the previous week in Astoria. My daughter Jessy, and Michael's Girlfried Emily joined us for dinner. It was a great day capped off by a wonderful night!


Day two started off much smoother than day 1. We had a leisurely breakfast, got a good game plan together and put in the river about 11:30 in the morning. We were doing the same float as the day before - Harry Morgan to Russel Gates. It did not take long for us to see this was going to be a much better day. Andy started us off with an absolutely beautiful Cutthroat.

Andy with the fish of day 2.

A beautiful Montana Cutthroat caught in the Blackfoot Canyon.


And then Michael followed up with two more of these colorful Blackfoot River beauties!

Michael with a beautiful Blackfoot River Cutthroat

Look at the amazing color on this cutthroat - what a beautiful fish!


Alex joined the party with his first fish ever. A nice Rainbow caught on a Panther Martin. This was one of our top priorities for fish camp so we were all delighted when Alex got his fish in the net. We kept it and cooked it for dinner later that night!

Alex caught his first trout on this trip!


It was getting late on day two, and I had yet to catch a fish on the dry fly when the magic finally happened. I was nymph fishing and saw a fish strike my orange indicator. Thinking that a late afternoon bite might be happening, I quickly switched over to an orange salmon fly. It only took a couple of casts and boom!! I finally landed one on the dry...It is what I came here to do!!

I finally landed a nice Cutthroat on salmon fly!



Here are some more pictures from the trip




Video Highlights of a few fish, including Alex's first fish ever!


It was another amazing trip, and one that I will never forget. Looking forward to doing it again next year with my favorite fishing partners!

Another fish camp in the books! I can't wait till next year!



#fishcamp #blackfootriver #salmonfly #flyfishing #harryymorgancampground #russelgates #dryordie #fishmoreworkless #BMO #billmatthewsoutdoors

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