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Montana Fly Fishing Day 2 - Upper Clark Fork

Updated: Oct 5, 2021

Michael & River with a nice release!

Day 2 in Montana. After chasing big trout with tiny flies on day one, Michael and I decided on a change of pace for day 2. Unfortunately Andy could not join us today so it was just me, Michael and the two dogs (River & Mack). We decided to keep it close to Missoula today and fish a stretch near Clinton, MT.

The float today would be a lot shorter than yesterday...which I was happy about. 12 hours on the water yesterday was a long day, so this 5 hour float seemed just right. As a bonus, Michael has guided this stretch many times so he knows all the places that hold fish. We started a little later today because we wanted to fish hoppers and its good to let the day warm up a bit for this bite.

First fish and I did not even cast!

We dropped the boat off and I tied up a "Hopper/Dropper" rig with a San Juan worm for my dropper. We got the dogs loaded and I pushed the boat off the shore. I was pulling out some line to get ready to make my first cast when I heard a splash and heard Michael yell "FISH!" I looked up in surprise and said "Where?". Michael said, "On your Fly!" My brain could not quite compute what my son was telling me..I had not even made a cast and he was telling me I had a fish on..I was in the midst of saying "What?" when I felt the tug on my rod, I lifted up, and to my astonishment I had a trout on the end of the line. Still not quite sure what was going on, I started to land the fish. As I was bringing it it I realized that this trout had grabbed my fly right next to the boat while I was stripping out line to make my first cast. Oh man what a way to start the day! No better way to clear up my old foggy brain than to have a fish smack you right in the face. We laughed and both realized that it was going to be a good day!

Mack was a tired puppy today!

As we worked down the river we caught fish after fish..some on the hopper, and some on the dropper. It was simply a spectacular day of fishing with my son. We have some kind of good fishing juju when we fish together. We stopped for lunch at a great spot on the river, and Michael walked up a back channel to see if any fish were holding there. Of course he caught 3 fish including a big brown that was definitely the fish of the day. Unfortunately I did not get any pics of these fish, because I was messing with the dogs, but it was cool watching him work the small piece of water and pull three fish out of it.

Ugly Guy...Beautiful Fish!

After lunch I committed to fishing just the hopper...I just love seeing the fish hit that big fly. The trout were definitely keyed in on it and were smacking it pretty hard..but I was missing about half of the takes. I figured that I was setting the hook too fast, so I started to slow down, watch them take the fly and then slowly lift as the trout darted back under water. Mind you this was not easy for me, it took every ounce of patience I could muster not to set the hook immediately, but my hook up ratio went up to about 90%. I swear there is nothing like seeing a trout come up to your big fly, open his mouth and eat it. It takes the patience of Job to let that fish eat it all the way and go back down before applying pressure...but what a sight and what a rush!! It was awesome.

The Hopper bite is REAL!

We finished off the day with a nice brown trout just up from the take out and we were back on the road to our campsite by 5:00. Ann would be getting in soon and we had dinner plans with Michael and Emily. It was great to see Ann & Emily, and we had a spectacular dinner of Fish Tacos at the Iron Horse in Missoula. It was a great day, topped off with an amazing evening.

Great way to end the night!

Thanks for reading,



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