New Heathens

60 Minutes on a Montana Creek

Flew to the homestate a couple weeks ago and my schedule was so tight I could only squeeze in 45 precious minutes to cast to Rocky Mountain trout. Fortunately, an interview appointment I had was bumped back 15 minutes. The extra time made the critical difference between my 7th and 8th trout.

Chronologically: First, little brown. Then after busting off a bruiser, I caught this beautiful, native Westslope cutthroat. Hello state fish! Don't see you back east!Then another Westslope, a little bigger.Then I lit into a run of rainbows; all good-sized, hard-fighting, and with beautiful crimson bands. I must've just been lucky enough to hit this stream during the one magic hour between when the water warmed enough for trout to be active, and the flood of spring runoff. The session came full circle with this leaping brown trout, my second, caught during my bonus 15 minutes. Fishing time in Montana is special.

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  1. …sweet fishing day indeed. but I must ask if you checked the regs, most MT creeks don’t open for fishing till the third week in may!

  2. Yow! I’ll confess that it’s been more than 20 years since the last time I checked the regulations for this particular stretch of stream, but I remember then that it was open year round. The regs from the FWP website are taking too long to load for this comment, but I’ll stand by my previous research with the caveat that I let every one of ’em go!

  3. I do not have any issues with it

  4. What is sad is that the Westslopes are being hybridized out by rainbows. That is where I do have an issue.

  5. Joe, my thoughts exactly re: cutts v. rainbows. I was, of course, happy to light into such great, pretty, hard-fighting rainbows but I was also a little sad and alarmed to see such a higher ratio of rainbows to cutts. I grew up fishing this creek and seem to remember as a kid a high percentage of cutts and cuttbows with occasional rainbows and browns. In recent years when I’ve come back for visits I’ve caught some cutts, but also more rainbows and browns. I know brown trout numbers are on the rise in the Bitterroot River because they can compete their way into cutthroat territory, and the water has warmed and dirtied just enough to make it inhospitable to bull trout. Then there’s the serious and omnipresent hybridization of cutthroats by rainbows. I fear that all of that is happening in this stream.

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