Tuesday, April 21, 2009

April 16-19, 2009 - Bighorn River, Ft. Smith, MT - PART 2


We had high hopes for Saturday, as it was supposed to be the best weather day of all - with temps in the mid 60's and low winds. Unfortunately that was not how it would turn out. We got a late start, trying to figure out boats and when toleave. We got word from Alvin the campground owner that David had left a message the night before saying that he had to rush home to Billings because his wife was ill and he wouldn't be there to float. (Just to let everyone know his wife is ok, althouhg they can't seem to figure out what is wrong with her). Chad went with Jason & Eric again, Bill borrowed Willy's single man pontoon boat, Steffan went with Sid & Don, and Willy and I broke in his new 3 seater raft. We got a late start - probably closer to 9am - leaving from Afterbay bound for Bighorn Access. Just as we left the cabin, a huge burst of wind kicked up rattling the monsterous Cottonwood trees at the campground, it sounded like a jet plane, but never stopped - it was a steady 25+ mph wind. The weather was still below 40 degrees and this wind made it seem much colder.

We met Tim (tplane), his dad and buddy Tim at the boat ramp - where Tim showed me pics of the whitefish trophy winner - a 17 inch beauty that he had caught the day before. I taped it based on the picture of the fish against his net - this would be tough to beat. Willy and I pushed off and Willy used his new oar locks and oars on the raft, but it was quick to be determined that this was not the best method. We switched to paddle style and it worked much better. Although, neither of us would be able to fish out of the raft as we each needed to paddle.

All of the normal spots were well stocked with people - as there seemed to be a lot more people than normal out on the water. We skipped the Meat Hole, and settled on the right hand bank of the Aquarium just below Suck Hole. Unfortunately we had no luck after about an hour. Bill kept warm by cracking a beer at around 9:30am. We moved down again and again, with little luck. Finally we settled at 3 Mile Access in the same run that David had fished the day before. I set Willy up with a nice rig and his first indicator (a tiny thingamabobber) and had him fish the same stretch. He had a couple of bumps, but no takes. I fished just ahead of him in the riffles - and hooked a monster rainbow that took me 60 yards to land. When I did land him, he had the tippet wrapped in his gills and I saw a little blood come out and paniced, I just cut the tippet and let him go - he bolted out into the middle unfazed.

We moved down again, this time to a spot just under some cliffs. Tim, Tim and his Dad were stopped just across river from us enjoying lunch. It was starting to warm up and the wind was off and on. The wading was tough since we stopped at the cliffs, basically all of the boats fish this bank, but no one could get out because it was too deep to drop anchor - but with a raft it was perfect. I missed a brown right off and then Willy had a big hit - I heard him give a little hoot and I waded down to the raft to help him net his fish. But this fish wouldn't move - it basically stayed deep and he couldn't turn it's head no matter what he tried. The fish basicaly stayed within a 10 foot radius, and moved a bit up and down, but it took Willy about 7 or 8 minutes to land the beast. When he did it was all worth it - it was a legit 20 inch brown with beautiful coloring and a nice hooked jaw. Willy had broken in his new rod on a beauty!

We moved on again, this time stopping at the pool just after the Drive In Hole. This spin out held lots of fish and I was hoping it would be an opportunity for Willy to catch an easy one - and he sure did on his first cast:

It was a nice 16 inch rainbow and Willy was on the board again! I had quite a good time in this hole. The weather was now clearing up and the wind was down. I fished the whole stretch - all the way past the two downed logs to the end of the pool - I picked up 6 or 7 fish and missed some hogs as well. Here are a few:

We kept moving - jumping from spot to spot with not much success. We saw a great hole where the big flat turnout on the left is with a huge shelf and the boats land on the shelf and fishermen stand arm in arm and cast into the flat pool - it was stacked with 4 boats so we drifted by it about 200 yards and again landed right on the cliffs. This time there really wasn't any place to tie off the raft - so we made a tie off with sticks and large pieces of shail. No boats could land here again because it was too deep to drop anchor, but every boat fishes this section as the swing by. Steffan/Don/Sid pulled in across river from us.

We had to walk next to the cliffs and slightly in the water to get to the slow parts of the run, but Willy did and caught a little guy right off. Then I started hammering them - I caught 4 18-19 inch rainbows on the red midge, and 1 little dink brown. The fish were beautiful and fiesty and I didn't think I would land them after they would run out into the deeper/faster water - but I managed to land them all.

After that we kind of made our way down river - stopping a couple of times, but not having much luck. There is a deep section of river that is towards the end of our trip - there are huge flat rocks next to the shoreline that run a 100 yard stretch or so and they drop off into 15+ foot water. While coasting over one of them I saw a huge carp (had to be about 3 feet long and over 30 lbs) just kind of slide off the rock he was sitting on down into the deep water - the fish was just so huge that you couldn't miss it. The day was winding down, we were hungry and in need of beer and we landed at Bighorn right around 7pm. Bill was waiting there for us. We loaded the truck and were back at Cottonwood around 7:30pm ish. We had a nice turkey bruger dinner, shot the crap with Sid and Don, and reluctantly packed most of our stuff in the truck in preparation of a long drive home the next day. We hit the sack around 11pm.


Got up around 7am, on the road by 8am. As we were pulling out we saw Jason's nice camera bag laying just past his camping spot at Cottonwood - so Chad grabbed it. It was an uneventful drive - stopping a few times for gas, food and potty breaks. About 2 hours into the drive we finally got cell service and Steffan listened to his messages and found out his basement had flooded - 2,000+ gallons had to be removed after the power went out and his sump was useless. He stressed the whole way home about it, and there wasn't much he (or anyone) could do as the damage was done. Dropped Steffan off in Longmont at 2:30pm, Chad and Bill off in Denver at 3pm and was home by 3:30pm. Of course the kids were asleep - so I went right to the carwash and spent an hour detailing Jen's truck.

15 inches of snow had fallen in Highlands Ranch, and there was still some left on the lawns and in huge snow banks where the snowplows were nice enough to leave them. Water was flowing out of every drain, sump, lawn and down our street like a river. When you stepped on any exposed lawn you sunk in at least 6 inches.

Ahhhhh, so nice to be home.

1 comment:

wyoflyfish said...

Sounds like a nice trip and the whitefish trophy changed hands?! Any pictures of the unceremonious award going to tplane?

Glad you all had a good time. Good call getting out Thursday before the storm closed I-80 and I-25.