Photo Essay: Conversations in Montana

A short essay about the future of fly fishing, from the boys at Yellow Tree Fly Fishing

 “Should we fish the Mo today, or go do something weird in bear country?” “Should we drink PBR for breakfast, or go with the classic bacon, eggs, and Jim Beam combo?” Two questions – the only two that ever seem to come up in conversation in Craig, Mt.  Don’t get me wrong, we talk about fishing a lot, we just happen to drink while we do it. When we aren’t working in the shop, you can be pretty certain that we are getting after it on a stream somewhere. 

There is plenty of ridiculously good water within two hours of Craig. Yet, the natural first choice will always be the Missouri River. Our campers (total pieces of shit) are a double haul away from the Mo. The main persuader though is the fact that some of the most prolific hatches in North America occur on the Mo. Thousands of fish per mile all looking up to the surface for their next meal. There are so many Caddis that you are practically breathing them in during the thick of the afternoon hatch, and Trico columns in the morning that look like clouds of smoke. The water is completely covered in bugs, and the fish will sip dries all day during most of the summer. Afternoon floats can be pure insanity with loads of fish in the twenty-inch range on dries, and plenty of shenanigans on the boat. People flock from all over to try their luck at the huge dry fly eating monsters that lurk in the Mo. Unfortunately for people like us, temporary Craig locals, that means big crowds of middle-aged men hogging our favorite spots. This sudden surge of old dudes is also known as the güggen hatch, and it is prolific. We mean wow, holy shit it’s bad. To escape the madness, we head to more unknown locations with some bear spray and beer (must haves for all Montana adventures). 

Usually, the booze gets the best of us on the late nights when we are up planning what we are going to do on the upcoming off days. Inevitably, our conversations spiral into all sorts of weirdness. We have noticed a reoccurring discussion that is relevant to Western Montana backcountry fishing. Simply put, sometimes we demolish affordable beer and talk about how we wish people would go explore more often.

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