"Hungry Yellowstone cutthroats exploded from their river rock homes to slam the generous offerings."
The last few days had been part of my maiden voyage chasing Yellowstone cutthroat through the pristine waters of their native range, and it had been nothing short of fantastic! Sure I had fished for and caught Yellowstone cutthroat in the past, and in fact a few days prior, but now I was dedicated to exploring their home waters on a more intimate level.
It was mid-summer, and the area which had seen a tremendous amount of snowfall was really coming into shape. It was a dry flyers dream, and the only thing that kept me from floating away in it was the fly shop horror stories of the 1000 lb grizzlies that call this area home.
To say that I like my solitude when fishing is an understatement, but I must admit that I actually found it a relief to see other anglers along the water when fishing these streams, and after talking with them for a few minutes it quickly became apparent the feeling was mutual.
At night we would sacrifice our livers and make loud noises to ward off the evil spirits that lurked in these woods.
The last moment decision to pull off the main road and finally check out this piece of water payed off. I viewed it several times over the past few days, and although I had considered checking it out initially, my mind was fixated on another drainage.
I had been driving for about 45 minutes before I saw my first public access point, and in what seemed like a blink of an eye, I was back on private land again. After about 20 minutes of backtracking and u-turns, I finally settled on a piece of water. At first I was hesitant that the fishing would be worth a damn, as it wasn’t too far off the road and the weekend warriors were buzzing about in their OHV’s and tossing worms at every convenient crossing. I strung up one of my favorite small streams rods, an 8 foot 3 weight Winston B2t, with a big ole dry and it didn’t take long to be proven wrong. Hungry Yellowstone cutthroats exploded from their river rock homes to slam the generous offering, and the stream itself was well exposed and devoid of bushes, and the concerns of stumbling upon one of those 1000 lb creatures washed away with each fish that came to hand.
Before long I found myself staring straight into the tail-end of a dark pool. The type of pool that should hold something of size, and when you are unable to coax anything out of it, and even more so, when something of smaller stature is unwilling to rise, it leaves you wondering just what could be lurking within it.
The fly darted up to the middle of the pool and landed dead center of the moving water, just under the overhanging pines. The surface was breached, the line went taught and the 3 weight doubled over as the fish dove toward the bottom and then shot to the submerged tree on the far side. After sometime (and chanting in my head “please don’t get off, please don’t get off”), I was able to work the fish back into the middle of the run. With my rod held high and the net extended in front of me, I could hear the rocks rolling over each-other like shards of glass as I slid down the bank and into the icy cold water. With one quick swoop I was able to net the fish, and take a few moments to appreciate the wild beauty of nature before releasing it back into its home, hopefully to live out a long life! Nothing better.
With much of the day still ahead of me, I wandered upstream into the wilderness. Leaving behind the dirt roads and remnants of civilization, the hours flew by and the fish continued to inspire my appreciation and curiosity. Once again the air grew cold and the sky turned a purple haze. The thought of 1000 lb creatures began to enter my mind, and before I was willingly to let go, it was time to retire from another spectacular day of fishing.