2008-As I am walking down the road alongside the Arkansas River, I stumble upon a group of credit cards on the side of the road. I look at them and wonder what happened. I put them in my pocket for nothing less than making sure they are not just laying there as trash. When I get home, I tell my wife about it and she looks in the phone book to see if the name is in there. There is a name that matches the cards so she calls and speaks to a teenage girl who does say her dad had his car broken into on the Arkansas River and his credit cards stolen. We tell her we have the cards and that her dad can stop by and pick them up. He never does so we put them in the mail. I never know who the cards belong to.
2009-As I am standing at the street crossing, a man walks up and asks me a question about fly fishing. My Simms jacket gives me away as a fly flinger. We visit a while and make small talk about fishing.
2014-As we drive over the bridge crossing the river, Kent is already fishing. This is not his first time here. He has been visiting this water since 2001. I am tagging along for my first trip to the Smith River and to Montana for the first time in a long while. I am told that there are big fish in the water and that we will fish until we drop, only stopping to eat.
The fishing was great. The bugs were around only sporadically, so the dry fly fishing was limited to the evening only. When there was some cloud cover, a few fish would come out to play but for the most part, it was a streamer party. Wooly Buggers, Sculpzillas, and more buggers were on the menu. As you will see, the banks were high and the fish tucked into them. With a higher flow on the front end of the trip, the water temps were good but as the week went on, the water dropped and the water temps went up causing the fish to make a change in their positions. The bugs were almost nonexistent and those that were on the water floated unmolested down the river as far as we could watch them. The first few days provided me with four 20" fish. At that pace, I though I could win the MVP of the week. As the week wore on, so did I. I got tired! Fishing for at least 8 hours a day is pretty hard work. Throw in walks back and forth to the river in chest high grass and it makes it tough. I know, poor me! There was a session mid week when I got blanked. I tried everything, but I just couldn't close the deal on about 10 fish. It was bad. Think John Starks bad in game 7 of the 1994 NBA finals. By Friday, our last day on the water, it was hard to get up from the Lazy-Boy and decide to put on the waders and sunscreen and bugs spray and hoof it to the water but as I told Kent when he asked me what I wanted to do, I told him that we should go fishing. On Monday, he wasn't going to have the option of asking me what I wanted to do. Let's go!
On the trip in. I would have loved to fish this little creek. It was gorgeous.
My first peek at he Smith River
Our first night on the river.
Our porch view. Not a bad way to plan the day.
The Simms boys. While in Montana, fish Simms.
Kent and the big fish of the trip. It measured 20.5"
Being released. 20.5"
One of my 20" fish.
"The Diesel" My Hardy Zenith 1 piece 6wt. I nicknamed it "The Diesel" because I was throwing double streamers and hopper/dropper rigs with ease. This rod is smooth and feels like a 4 wt. until you open it up and lay on the gas. Then you really feel how much power it really has stashed away in the butt. Also, I bent this rod way more than a rod should be bent, especially when that big fish took me under a log......
Kent Releasing another nice fish
Here it is
This view doesn't get old
Kent, me and Scott
Yes, I know.
Another nice fish.
A "pesky 15"er!
Some of my favorites. Simms, Waterworks-Lampson and Hardy.
More fish. It never gets old.
One of my favorites. The take is burned into my memory. It rose to the streamer very slowly and all I remember is the bright colors on the flank of this fish in the water. The colors were incredible.
Same fish being released
This fish was even more colorful than the others. It slammed the streamer as soon as it hit the water.
A few PMDs were out and some fish were caught with dries.
The Scott G. Dry fly heaven. Only missing the dry flies.
On the way to find some water.
I told you there were a few PMDs on the water and a few willing fish.
I need more weight!
A fish on a Glossy Back Baetis Nymph on the Sheep Creek.
Check out the spots!
Scott on the Sheep.
Scott's son, Jeff who joined us for a few days on the water. Jeff is a great Czech nympher and I learned a lot from him just watching him fish. I certainly need to look into Czech nymphing.
The river near the cabin.
This never got old. I enjoyed every minute of the trip except when the mosquitos were really bugging me.
On the way out, back home. Montana is so wide open and big! It was bittersweet leaving as there were no other people in the area, but hey, we were headed back home to Colorado, which isn't so bad for a fly fisherman.
The Yellowstone Valley near Livingston.
The Yellowstone River
The credit cards I found belonged to Kent, the one who asked me if I fished that day on the corner of Tejon and Bijou in downtown Colorado Springs. Since that day we have been friends and have fished together over the years. This trip is just another chapter to add to that mysterious book we are writing.