Monday, April 20, 2009
April 16-19, 2009 - Bighorn River, Ft. Smith, MT - PART 1
Flows 3,000 cfs, clear.
Wednesday night around 10pm I tried laying down to get a couple hours of sleep - of course I was fully packed and fully clothed. I never really did get much sleep, maybe a couple of hours before my 4 month old son woke me up around 12:15am. I handed him off to Mom and got my shoes on, grabbed a Pepsi and out the door at 12:45am. Hit the gas station, and made it to Chad's house at 1:20am. Bill (Flashbck) and Chad (ChadTrout) were out front waiting with headlamps on - they threw their stuff in the truck and up I25 to the 119 Longmont exit we went. Steffan (Naffets) was just pulling into the park and ride as we pulled in too. It was just before 2am and we were on the road.
The weather reports were iffy, but we were just getting out ahead of the weather. In Cheyenne we stopped at the normal gas station and grabbed gas and snacks and the potty. Just outside of Cheyenne we hit some fog that seemed to get worse and worse. The roads stayed relatively dry, and the fog came and went until about Casper, where we stopped again to fill up and hit the head. The weather outside Casper started getting nasty, so Steffan took it easy for an hour or so. The weather cleared nicely after an hour or so and we had it cranked back up to 75 mph as the sun started brighting the cloud cover up. We hit Sheridan making decent time at around 8:30am or so and hit our normal Rock Stop gas station - where we saw this familiar face:
I'm not exactly sure why the sculptor decided to bronze out a tiny little penis on this guy, but it doesn't do him justice...
Knowing that the MT border was 25 minutes away we hit the road - hit the Lodge Grass exit and were in Ft. Smith by about 9:45am. We hit the parking pass machine, then Bighorn Trout Shop for a hat, weights and small thingamabobbers, then on to Cottonwood to check in. Our cabin was open, so we threw are stuff down - got our waders on and Chad's buddy Jason and Eric show up with their popup camper - great timing.
We all hit 3 Mile Access by about 11am. It was still chilly and the water was ice cold (38 degrees), I knew this because within a half a minute of stepping in the river I had a left foot full of water. Within 30 minutes of trying to not stop fishing I had to give up - the water was creeping up my leg to my jewels and was coming in just too fast. I left 3 Mile and headed back to Cottonwood - but, their cheapest pair was $200 Dan Bailey's. I headed to Bighorn Angler where I found some nice Simms waders that were mis-priced. A little pissed because of the bait and switch the shop guy went in the back and brought out $140 Simms that I could tell were 100X better than my Hodgman's hip waders.
I was back on the water by 12:30pm or so and met back up with Steffan - we weren't having any luck at all and decided to fish to the easy dinks just down from the boat ramp that were slamming the top water over a 100 foot stretch. I just took my weights off and slid my indicator down and landed a bunch right off. I had Steffan do the same and he was suddenly into tons of fish. Steffan pulled out a beauty - a 15 inch brown that was hidden among the dinks - not a bad little fish, and a great fight!
We decided to hit Afterbay at around 4pm and all 4 of us drove up there. We hiked down to the Meat Hole and had it to ourselves. The hole has changed a ton, the shelf is much longer and the pool at the end much smaller. Worst of all, we didn't see a whole lot of fish. Chad caught 5 fish before we got there, and I managed 1 nice brown of about 16 inches on a red micro tubing midge. We didn't have a whole lot of luck and it was getting dark quickly - we headed back to Cottonwood at around 7:30pm. We were exhausted, so we made dinner - stuffed halibut with asparagus (by Steffan), drank some beers and then passed out.
We woke around 7am all ready to go - but the cold weather kept us in the cabin and David (BlackOtter) showed up around 8am. Kyle (Kyo) and Doug (OliveBugger) showed up a couple minutes later and we suddenly had spots in boats for everyone. Steffan and I fished with David in his boat, Chad/Jason/Eric rented a boat and Bill went with Kyle and Doug. David and Kyle's boats lauched from Afterbay while Chad's boat launched from 3 Mile. Steffan and I were into fish almost immediately - as we traded whities right out of the gate:
Steffan's whitie was 15 inches while mine was 14 inches - so he had an early lead. I managed a nice 17 inch rainbow as well - I was off to a good start, as I always seem to fish well with David.
The fishing was hit and miss throughout the first three miles - with most of the good spots already spoken for. Steffan picked up a nice brown out of the boat and at least someone was catching fish (I wasn't).
We didn't really hit another spot for all of us to fish until 3 Mile Access where David picked up a fiesty brown on the island drop off next to the main channel - she was a beauty and he got her on his first cast.
As we pulled out of David's spot we slid next to the boat ramp and tried hitting the slow/deep stuff just next to the ramp - it is easily 12 feet deep here, so I put a ton of weight on and put 10 feet between my indicator and flies. I hooked and landed a beautiful rainbow that went 19 inches long - I hooked him on my Killer Midge that David likes so much.
We kept on moving, hitting the Drive In Hole where we all picked up some fish - Steffan hooked a nice brown (below) and David was trying to pick some lunkers off with a streamer, with no luck. I managed a nice brown as well.
We kept moving down river - settling in across from the Colorado Club where Steffan and David tore it up - David pulled 4 18+ inch fish out on 5 casts, I had 3 decent fish on (including a lunker of a rainbow that was a boot licker) - but couldn't land any of them.
David let me row the rest of the way down the river and it went pretty uneventful - I only did 3 360 degree turns, but didn't bump into anything and actually avoided a spin out that the guys were betting I'd hit. All in all it was a good day, although the fishing was so sporadic and the weather was teetering on cold/almost warm. It was partly sunny, but there was a steady 10 moh wind and it was only in the upper 40's. Back at the cabin we were greeted by some more RMF board members including Don (flybop), Sid (MTNole) and Willy (WillyC). We all at a nice pork roast dinner and drank our share.
I somehow managed to drink 16 beers, including about 6 in the last hour or so before bed. Chad/Jason/Eric pulled in late shit-faced on 2 bottles on Maker's Mark before noontime! Sid and Don had to have their arms twisted to drink our beer, and Bill was feeling preety happy as well after a nice day of catching fish!
4 advils later, around 11pm I was out like a light.
Saturday is coming up next......