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umichjesse

montana-wyoming trip

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I am going back to school next week to get my MBA so I quit my job of four years and took a month vacation before school starts. I spent 4th of July weekend at my cabin in northern Minnesota then headed west on highway 2 until I hit glacier park. I have spent the last few weeks in Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado, backpacking, mountain biking, and of course, fly fishing.

I started out the trip on a solo backpacking trip deep into the Bob Marshall Wilderness south of Glacier.

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I mainly followed the South Fork of the Flathead River and took a few day trips up tributaries to some mountain lakes.

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This was a late spring so the river was rip roaring still from snow melt. I could only cross the river every ten miles or so when there was a pack bridge for horses. I was warned that the fishing would be slow with the high water, but I managed to find plenty of cutthroats in any slow water that I could find. Most of the fish were between 13 and 16 inches with only a couple pushing 20. In the evenings the fish loved dries, but when the sun was high I had the best luck dredging deep water in the canyon with nymphs.

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I also caught a number of bull trout when I switched to throwing streamers. I don't think the larger fish started running up the river yet to spawn because all of the fish I caught were under twenty inches and looked like resident fish. However, it was still really cool to catch these endangered fish in one of their last Montana strongholds.

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After my trip in the "Bob" I met up with friends in Bozeman and couch camped for a week. Typically I would go fishing somewhere each day while they worked, then we would go for an evening mountain bike ride once they were free, and would finish the night tipping back some barley pops on the front porch.

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I could get used to this kind of living.

A few hundred miles south of the Flathead, the rivers within an hour or two of Bozeman had already cleared from their spring runoff and were fishing absolutely great. I avoided some the bigger famous waters that get pounded by guide boats and fished a number of smaller tributaries where wading works better than a boat. I used my SE Minnesota spring creek tactics and hammered the fish. I couldn't believe some of the fish I pulled out one particular stream one day. I dredged the undercut banks with buggers and dam creeks and stuck fat brown after fat brown.

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From Bozeman I followed the Madison river down into Wyoming. I love this valley and from this picture I snapped out my window on the drive down, you can see why.

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In Wyoming, I met up with some more friends and went backpacking in the Wind River Range.

My buddy Mitch:

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Me:

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We hiked to dozens of lakes above the tree line. Some were loaded with stunted brookies, while others held beautiful goldens and cutts.

Male golden:

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Female golden:

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Male cutthroat:

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Some of the small streams feed and draining these lakes we full of spawning fish in inches of water. Some of these goldens and cuts were well over twenty inches and pushing 3-4 lbs easy. We left these spawners alone and hope to catch a big fish in the lakes but they alluded us. Our trip was probably a week or too early.

Another shot of Mitch:

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After the Winds, I shot east across the sage brush to fish walleye and golf with my uncle in Gillette, Wyoming. I had temporarily left trout country. From Gillette I headed south toward Colorado. I stopped and fished some foothill streams in south central Wyoming and again found some awesome fish in small water.

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I next headed to Denver and spent four days with a couple of my cousins, biking, golfing, climbing a couple fourteeners, and sampling Denver's nightlife. It was a great weekend to end month long vacation.

14,500 feet up:

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nice work, jesse...... hopefully i'll have some golden pics to match yers in a week or so...... we're heading out on friday..... awesome pictures, [PoorWordUsage] of a trip it looks like....

(will)

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Good call, taking some time before entering the real world. Enjoy life while you can, especially when young. As you get older it seems there is no time left for yourself. Way to go!

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Unreal I can't wait to get to the bob marshall. have a buddies dad you worked out there after high school guided man horse/ camping trips. you made my mind up w/ those stellar pics! thnx for sharing!

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