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What started out as a ski trip originally scheduled in February turned out to be an experience I will remember forever. My wife had never been skiing so I booked a trip to Big Sky Montana since neither of us had ever been to that state before and the skiing was highly rated. The goal was to ski Big Sky, see Yellowstone National Park and do other winter activities like snow mobiles, dog sledding, etc. The weather in February hit a long patch of sub zero degree high temps so we postponed the trip to this week. With work being crazy the last month or so I really didn't do too much research on April around these parts.
It turns out that the ski resort is still open but all of the other activities were already shut down for the season. In addition, the west entrance of Yellowstone, close to where we are staying, is closed until the 15th. So we adapted and changed our schedule which included a day of trout fishing since the fishing has turned on in the past few weeks. I haven't fished a fly rod since I was in my teens. Ernie tried to teach me a bit on dry land but I wasn't very graceful so this was an opportunity to learn. Erika had actually been twice but never landed anything.
Tuesday we drove to the North entrance of Yellowstone and had an amazing day in the park. We saw acres and acres of beauty and so tons of wildlife including bison, elk, mule deer, etc. The bison were amazing and came right up on the road in the afternoon.
We got a day on the mountain skiing on Wednesday. It was Erikas first time and I hadn't skied in so long it was like my first time as well. A full afternoon of that was enough as we were both feeling the aches and pains. That didn't stop us on Thursday getting up bright and early and meeting our guide at the local fly shop.
We connected with Gallatin River Guides and they were awesome. Super helpful and our guide Trey was a pro. We geared up and drove an hour south to the Madison River. Quite a bit more remote and less pressured as the Gallatin, which is super popular from the movie A River Runs Through It. During the ride Trey gave us great info on the local area, the park, the wildlife and, of course, the fishing. The plan was to fish nymph and egg patterns under a strike indicator on 5 and 6 weight rods. We hiked into a snow covered meadow up to some nice slower and deeper pools. Within minutes of some waterside instruction I landed my first fish. A respectable rainbow that fought hard.
I landed several in that spot. Erika had 1 or 2 takes but wasn't hooking up so we switched spots. A few minutes later she landed her first.
We had fairly steady bites for most of the day. Most of the fish were quality fish with only a few small ones caught all day. This was my biggest out of the first spot.
We moved upstream about a half mile, had a great lunch with a view and then started fishing an amazing stretch of river. Very consistent action including a double.
All of the fish in that stretch were great quality with a few brown trout mixed in as well. The highlight of the day was Erika landing the big fish of the day, this beautiful 20 inch rainbow.
We easily landed 25 to 30 fish and the scenery was amazing.
We are super sore and achy today but as happy as can be after an amazing trip. One more day in town and we head home tomorrow.
Last edited by Paul Naj (Apr-05-19 9:02AM)
What a trip! Thanks for sharing.
That looks absolutely amazing, I'm now inspired to make some bison burgers Saturday night!
Outstanding, just outstanding!
Excellent all around report!
Looks like ou guys had a blast!!!!
Reflecting on this trip I think the best part of it for me was to see how happy my wife was out on that river. Simply in her element. That, coupled with the fact that I had a great time, made me start to to research on local trout fishing, since I think it's something we could easily do together a half dozen times a year or so.
I'm not really interested in put and take stocked fish. I realize that VA stocks some impressive fish but I'm more interested in wild or holdover trout, fly fishing catch and release areas where the fish feed on nymphs, flies, terrestrials, etc. I'm also interested in finding some beautiful scenery. Fishing next to buildings, quarries and industrial backgrounds doesn't excite me either.
It appears as if Virginia has a bunch of wild streams but the better ones appear to be 4 to 5 hours away in the southwest part of the state. It seems the Shenandoah Valley is more about the small native brook trout. Looking north I see Maryland has some fly fishing only C&R areas as an option. It looks like the best option is in Pennsylvania who have quite a few wild brown trout streams.
Have any of you actively fly fished for trout? Is my research above correct that I'll need to travel to get decent holdover and wild trout fishing? Any thoughts or favorites that I should check out? I likely won't start this until September as we need to gear up first. I appreciate any feedback you can share, without being specific on spots of course.
Limestone creeks in PA are supposed to be where they are at. Also Delaware River...not to far from Joisey!
Great pics and report. I went to Montana on a family vacation as a child and still have vivid memories of catching wild browns and rainbows (on nightcrawlers ). Such a beautiful place.
That is awesome!! Thanks for sharing!
I've always heard great things about western MD for trout. Depending on how far you want to go NY I hear also has phenomenal trout fishing. My coworker, who is also an Orvis instructor, recently told me that WV has pretty decent trout fishing (both wild and stocked). I know you said you're not looking for stocked but from what he tells me it is worlds better than the NOVA stocked trout fishing we have. He recommended Monongahela National Forest and Elk River.