As autumn begins it’s march toward winter, my thoughts turn to trout moving into the edges of our cooling lakes and snatching a few more days on our rivers during those still, blue sky days in north-east Victoria. However the drumming rain and frost of July and August holds less appeal. Although I watch the rainfall totals with a keen eye for spring and summer water levels, it would be nice to escape to somewhere a bit warmer – at least for a week or two. So it is that I begin to think of North America. Over the last two years I’ve been lucky enough to fish in Montana during our southern hemisphere winter. It’s an addictive experience that keeps drawing me back.
I have to admit that the spring creeks off the Yellowstone River occupy my fishing thoughts like nowhere else. In my opinion, if there’s a fly stream in heaven it would be an identical copy. Drift fishing on the iconic Yellowstone itself or the equally famous Madison River rates an extremely close second.
My eagerness to get back to Montana this winter is helped by the fact that I’ve never felt quite so well looked after by a guide as I do over there. From the initial departure – “Would you like to grab a drive through coffee?” to the fact that in one four day stretch drifting massive rivers, I never had to put on wading boots – the boat was always expertly positioned to allow bone dry entry and exit. It’s a beguiling view of the flyfishing good life. No blackberries or hard slog to the water here.
The same massive dries and nymphs mimicking the stoneflies that we watch with envy in flyfishing movies are great fun to throw around. It’s this ability to one minute be confidently sending out a small life raft of a fly and the next be searching for a tiny yellow sulphur dun that makes this a must-visit fishery.
So here I am this evening, checking flights, accommodation and enlisting prospective companions. I am also in touch with Zach Neville, the guide & outfitter who’s been on the water with me more often than not during my Montana adventures. Zach plans to send regular reports to FlyStream over the coming Montana season, and I hope to crack a mention in at least a couple of them! Meanwhile, I’ll have to make do with looking at last year’s photos and tidying up the big fly box in my study marked simply ‘Montana’.