Fly fishing and scouting in Montana, pt. 2

20 Aug

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So after packing up camp, we hit the road and headed for the ranch. We decided to do some fishing and scouting along the way. As we were driving down the freeway; we were keeping an eye out for any likely “cricks”, that might offer an opportunity to toss in a fly. We saw a sign for Fish Creek…sounded good to us! So off we headed for Fish Creek! We immediately entered into an area that was riddled with National Forest signs; which was “good sign” to us that we were on the right track. 

My favorite hat and "ammo box".

We passed a sign pointing the way to The Hole-In-The-Wall ranch and it advertised that it opened up at 10:00 serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. This sounded intriguing, so we figured to keep it in mind. In short order we found a nice little spot to pull over and park near a beautiful stretch of water. We snapped a few pictures, scouted out a likely route down to the stream and headed off. Even though the scenery was spectacular and the breeze coming off of the rough water was very refreshing; the fishing proved to be too challenging for our equipment. We decided to keep heading up-stream; besides, that was in the direction of the Hole In The Wall….I could already taste hash browns and eggs with gravy!

Breathing in the cool air coming off of Fish Creek.

Although this stretch of Fish Creek was beautiful, the fishing proved to be tough. Darin at the best spot to toss flies.

The farther we drove, the more beautiful things were and the more promising Fish Creek looked. But of course, every time we readied to pull over and park, someone had already beat us to it and were fishing away merrily!

Darin and Ethan looking upstream Fish Creek, watching a fellow fly fisherman (that had already beat us to the punch) working his way downstream.

This continued on…and on….and on until we became just a tad bit frustrated. But you can only become SO frustrated when you are in beautiful Montana with nothing to do but drive. The signs pointing the way to breakfast kept beckoning us on. About 12 miles in, we found some spots more remote and beautiful, but had Private Property signs blocking our entrance.

At the end of the line, (14 miles in) was the prettiest valley you could imagine and in it sat The Hole In The Wall ranch . We found out later that not only in the years past ,was it an old hideout for cowboys on the outlaw trail, but they now ran fishing and hunting trips from the ranch. We could only imagine what monster Muley bucks and giant bull Elk were to be found in the canyons that spiderwebbed from The Hole In The Wall.

Everything is bigger in Montana! Posing with a nice 7 point elk shed we found.

We ate a bite of breakfast at the restaurant which had a warm, rustic feel to it. Adorning the walls, there were several shoulder mounts of elk and muley bucks that we were told had been taken by both the outfitter and by his clients. One of the mounts was a very impressive 6×7 elk that had a blonde coat, I didn’t manage a picture, but I doubt I’ll forget it easily. After filling our stomaches with some tasty grub and downing several cups of black coffee; we hit the road and headed for “our” ranch.

I swear that every buck we saw while in Montana was DECENT! This was one of the bucks we saw as we drove through.


There were actually two, very decent bucks traveling together with this doe, along the St. Regis.


A veiw of on of the alfalfa fields that had just been cut nearby our game camera.

After we arrived at “The Ranch”, we wasted no time heading to the back 40 to check our game camera. On our way through the field we saw several does moving across the property, as well as four very decent bucks standing on the ridge paralleling the alfalfa field. I think that any of them would be fit to carry our tags any day of the week! We could see where they had been bedded down in the tall grass alongside of the access road. This was a fact to make a mental note of to put to good use next month, when it was archery season.

Two of the bucks that we saw on our quick trip to "our ranch".


I'm sure that this wouldn't be our last encounter with this buck; judging from what we saw on our game camera.

While we were getting our game camera back in order (some rogue cows had knocked it down), the old-timer who took care of the haying came by to chat. He gave us the run down of what bucks he’d been seeing and where the does like to bed down, you could tell that he took more than a passing interest to what when on. It was during this conversation that he brought up the fact that he’d only seen one fawn this year; which we corroborated with pics from our game camera. He said that a lone Wolf had been hanging out on the ranch for the past couple of weeks and that he’d had a few close encounters with it. He surmised that this was why he hadn’t seen any more fawns this year. When we asked how come “he hadn’t whacked it?!”, he explained that he wasn’t sure of our views and that he wanted to do it right. So it looks like we’ll have to look into a nuisance/depredation tag to take care of the problem.
It’s interesting that there is such controversy over the “reintroduction” of wolves and the seasons are always getting canceled. I might be dense, but I thought that proper management was all part of the plan. First they “re-introduce” a species of wolf that was never native to this part of the continent to begin with and then they (politicians and wolf huggers) squabble over keeping them in check…! In the mean time the wolves are growing in number, getting closer and closer to towns and wreaking havoc on livestock. I don’t get it, but then again understanding politics is not one of my strong suits.
“Meanwhile, back at the ranch”…and to get on with the story! After we chatted with the hayer and retrieved the SD card from the camera; we headed back on the road and back to home. Ethan couldn’t wait to see the pictures and wasted no time; judging by his OOOH’s and OHHHH’s coming from the back seat, we knew that it could very well be an awesome season. 🙂

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