May was a busy month. The kids were busy finishing school and I (as a teacher) was doing the same. The rivers began to rise and we did not fish much. Let me rephrase that...we did not catch much. The trouble with this blog is that I feel pressure to catch fish. You can only post so many entries with words in the title like..."skunked" and "fishless" before you start to reveal yourself as a bad fisherman. A perfect example of that was an all-day excursion Noah and I took in mid May.
As I usually do, I had it all planned out. I had made calls, checked weather, and read fishing reports. Noah and I woke up early on a Sunday, loaded the truck, packed lunches and headed out of dodge. (Not before a quick stop for cream filled donuts of course.)
We headed up the Madison River. We drove through the picturesque town of Ennis and up into the beautiful Upper Madison Valley. What a beautiful drive. I had called the day before and the ice had just come all the way off Cliff and Wade Lakes. Now anybody who has even browsed through the Montana angling records has probably heard the name Wade Lake. Can you say 29 lb brown trout!! We had to check these out. We fished Cliff first and had no luck. We watched as a few float tubers landed some 14 inchers, but we couldn't find the magic.
No big deal, we still had another mountain gem to fish only a half mile back up the road. We fished Wade hard. I tried everything. I stripped buggers, I twitched buggers, I fished chromonids, san juans, copper johns, scuds, leaches, crayfish...and nothing. Noah threw spinners while keeping an eye on his bobber suspending his gob of nighcrawlers. Not a single strike. Wade Lake was filled with crayfish. Noah caught one damn near as big as a lobster! We even rigged those bad boys on a hook for him...but it was not to be. So we left after a lunch.
We then made tracks for Hebgen Lake. I was optimistic to say the least. I had heard the lake was on fire as the ice was just starting to recede from the shore. I was just worried about crowds. To my suprise and joy we found a stretch of shore with no one in sight. The ice was off the shore line about 30 feet. I just knew we were going to nail them. It was late afternoon by now. We tried all of my limited stillwater tricks and could not catch a single fish. Seriously! We were like 8 hours into this and had not even touched a fish. We fished into early evening and finally our hungry bellies lured us to West Yellowstone for some McDonalds. We were tired and a bit down. Noah fell asleep ten minutes after he finished his cheesburger.
We drove home down the Gallatin Canyon. The sun was sinking low and the canyon was on fire with light. It was unbelivable. What a beautiful day. 2 or 3 fish would have made it perfect but I was in awe of the country and waters that we had passed in a single day. Then I had a thought. Imagine this trip. You would need about 10 days. Make it early September.
Day 1: Leave Bozeman. Float Bear Trap Canyon. Chuck Streamers. Camp on Ennis Lake.
Day 2: Fish Ennis Lake. Float Tube or boat
Day 3: Fish the Upper Madison Chuck Streamers, Hoppers.
Day 4: Fish Wade and Cliff Lake. Float Tube or Boat. Camp on the Lake
Day 5: Morning Fish Quake Lake: Float Tube or Boat/ Evening Wade the Madison between Hebgen and Quake...Chuck Streamers. Camp at Hebgen
Day 6: Fish Hebgen:
Day 7: Head down Gallatin Canyon. Fish Gallatin River...River Runs Through It style.
Day 8-10: Hike into Golden Trout Lakes. Camp. Catch Golden Trout
Day 10: Return Home. Sleep.
It is thoughts like these that ease the pain of paying rent in Bozeman MT!