Last month my dad and I were finally able to make our fly-fishing trip happen after about 5 years of planning and then cancelling trips to Montana. Back when I was in high school, my dad took two of my brothers and I on a fishing trip up through Idaho and into Western Montana, stopping at different rivers I had identified in a couple of fishing books. We had a really great road trip but pretty much struck out on almost all the rivers we tried, until we came upon Rock Creek. For the style of fishing we enjoy most, Rock Creek is by far the best river we have ever found. It is absolutely beautiful, has tons of good-sized fish, the fish don't spook very easily and fight really well, and the river isn't too wide or deep. All in all, it is the stuff our collective fly fishing dreams are made of.
After that first trip when we found the river, my dad and I returned (just the two of us) for two different trips - one about a week before I left on my mission, and the other just 3 days after I got back from my mission. We took another trip about 7 years ago when my brother Dave also came with us, and ever since that trip we've been trying to get back but have not been able to for various reasons. After setting up this trip for late July, I ended up cancelling it when it looked like an adoption was going to happen, but when it failed I rescheduled for August.
Our preferred place to stay is in a very small historic mining town called Philipsburg, which is about 20 minutes away from the southern end of Rock Creek. We always stay at the same little motel (but I am not posting pics because I'm not sure I would be able to get Amy to ever stay there if she saw them). Here are a few pictures of downtown Philipsburg:
And here is a picture of the canyon that Rock Creek flows through, which has a number of working ranches.
We always see tons of wildlife in the canyon. On this trip we saw at least 6 moose. We also saw a couple of different herds of bighorn sheep, a bald eagle, osprey and some snakes.
Rock Creek has several types of trout. We both caught lots of cutthroat, brown and rainbow trout. I don't think either of us caught any bull or brook. If you catch at least one of each of these in a day of fishing it is called a "grand slam".
This was one of our more productive holes.
I think this was the biggest fish I caught. Not as big as some we've caught on past trips, but this one was about 15 to 16 inches.
After only about an hour of fishing on our first day my wading boots totally disintegrated. I didn't want to buy new ones at the fly shop because fly shops are so expensive, so I just walked around with this boot without a sole and tried not to put any holes in my waders. On our very last time on the river, I squeezed into one of my dad's old wading boots (which is a size smaller than mine), and after I had walked 20 steps the sole of that boot fell off too. It was pretty hilarious, but also annoying.
It was a little tough to bring my big camera with me to the river, so I only pulled it out a few times. Here are a few pictures of some of the fish we caught. The first is a cutthroat, the second a rainbow. I caught most of my fish on some San Juan Worm flies that I tied just before flying out to Utah. You can see it in the rainbow's mouth below. Don't worry for these fish - we only do catch-and-release.
One of the things we love most about Philipsburg is The Sweet Palace - a huge old-time candy shop in a historic building. I had to be sure to bring home some stick candy for Clara.
After fishing Rock Creek for a few days, we decided to head south to West Yellowstone to fish one of the rivers there and spend some time hanging out in the town. Our family had a few really great trips to West Yellowstone when we were kids, and I have enjoyed going there with Amy's family a number of times since we've been married. We also stopped along the way in Virginia City:
We were intrigued by this double-decker outhouse:
I spoke with Amy almost every night, and she got pretty upset with me when she found out I hadn't had my dad take any pictures of me fishing yet. "How am I supposed to do your fishing blog post without any photos of you fishing?!" So, I made sure to have my dad take a photo or two of me fishing on our very last day (this is not Rock Creek - this is the South Fork of the Madison River, I think). We didn't see or catch any fish here, but it was really pretty.
In the end, I think my dad and I each caught about 25 fish, over the course of about 3 days of fishing. We had a blast and are already planning our next trip - hopefully either to the Eastern Sierras or maybe Colorado so my brother Dave might be able to go.
Here's one last photo of my dad doing his best 'shadow-casting' on Rock Creek: