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Twin Trip 1

Started by twinbridges, May 27, 2010, 15:41:43 PM

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Good news it has rained and snowed a lot this past week and that bodes well for later in the season.

Twin Bridges May 6-26 2010

May 6 Thursday

With the car loaded with who knows what that Bets has deemed needs to head west I am on my way west about 7.30 am on Thursday heading to Twin.  We have decided we might as well take this car out to Montana for the season so we will not need to rent a car and also because I thought a good road trip would be fun.

It is familiar country as I head up to Winston-Salem, then on Hwy 52 toward Mt Airy and I-77.  Pilot Mountain is a great iconic piece of landscape that never ceases to be impressive.  The drive up 77 to Charlestown  WV is uneventful and as you approach the capital of WV you get the sense that this has been a resource consumptive economy for a very long time and the landscape bears the scars as do the rivers with the chemical plants, coal yards and who knows what else.

Picking up I-64 west the countryside changes and after an hour or so I take a two lane road that follows the river west through farm land and it is nice to see the countryside that is not from the interstate.  You see it under construction to the south of this road and you know in a year or so you will lose all sense of the historic settlement pattern of farms to the interstate landscape.

I am thinking I might make Indianapolis but I decide to stop just inside of Indiana and get a room at the Holiday Inn which is about five stories or so and clearly has seen its better time but is ok.  I head downtown to get a sense of where I am and see if there is a restaurant there that might be interesting and not road food.  Sure enough after a couple of loops I find the Old Inn restaurant and it looks fine.  I have a nice salad and a veal scaloppini which is pretty good and a good glass of wine.  Sleep is pretty good and I am up about 6.30 am and ready for day two.

May 7 Friday

Back on the road and around Indy in about an hour or so and then head north toward Iowa.  It is a nice ride and the landscape begins to unfold into the mid west with the rolling hills giving way to larger farms over the day.  Iowa is really impressive with the scale of the agriculture and now there is this overlay of wind farms.  The scale of a hundred of these covering the horizon is new.   Only five years ago they were not here but now they are here and in large numbers slowly turning wind into electricity.  It changes the landscape but it seems a fair trade rather than ripping the mountains apart as in WV to provide electricity.

I make it to Minnesota and I-90 in late afternoon and take a room in Albert Lea Mn.  It is noteworthy that the pattern is to type in "motel Albert Lea Mn" into my I-phone map function and within seconds the map shows the possibilities, I click on the likely choice, the phone number shows, I call and get a quote and decide whether or not this is good and within minutes I am at the desk.

I check into the Countrywide Inn which is fine and for dinner check the phone book and ask at the front desk and am directed to a restaurant downtown.  Albert Lea is located on a large lake adjacent to downtown and has a great city park on the way into down named for Glen Miller.  I don't know if he just played here or perhaps this is his hometown.

The restaurant is in an old building downtown and is a very pretty room.  My waitress brings me a nice glass of wine and I order the duck breast which is quite good.  I ask her about the restaurant and she tells the story of three couples who used to go out for dinner together or at each others house and one fellow says, "sometime I am going to have a really good restaurant" and the others say let's do it.  It is now eight years later and they are open Thursday through Saturday and are still enjoying the gig.

Nice ways to get a sense of place as you make the journey.

May 8 Saturday

Today is a pretty ride across the southern part of Minnesota with huge farms, interspersed with square farmsteads defined by windbreaks, silos, barns and houses.  It is big farming and the earth looks incredibly fertile.  One place is called Blue Earth and you understand this was a real name.

As I pass into South Dakota the landscape changes and becomes hillier with prairie interspersed with farms.  I stop at the Cabala's which Bets and I stopped at about 12 years or so ago when we were out this way pheasant hunting.  It is not nearly as large as I remembered it to be as the scale of this type of venue is now huge.  I also stop at Kendall SD to take a picture of the Do Wa Diddy restaurant.  On that pheasant trip we never made our destination due to snow and stayed for the week at the Super 8 next door and took all our meals at the Do WA Diddy.  It is amazing the ways one can have chilly.

I continue on and make it to Rapid City SD for the night.  I go downtown to a nice Italian restaurant continuing my mission to find good food.  I have a great seafood stew and salad and a nice wine.  This is a very good restaurant and they do what they do well.

May 9 Sunday

Last day to Bozeman and I decide to take hwy 218 to get off the interstate and this is a wonderful choice.  The trek is about 225 miles of good road crossing the most open and uninhabited landscape imaginable.  It feels so good to be in this vast empty country rolling along the road.  Herds of Pronghorns are seen periodically but mostly just rolling open land.

I finally make it out to the site of Custer's battle where I rejoin I -90 for the final push to Billings and on to Bozeman.  I stop in Big Timber for lunch and then on to Bozeman.

Bets comes in about 11.00 pm and we head back to the C'mon Inn for the night


May 11 Tuesday

I had planned we would do our first float of the season but during the early morning hours I heard the wind blowing and it blew above 30 knots for the entire day.  Cleaned the boat house and tied a few flies.

The Big Hole is at about 700 cfs.  Went out Silver Bow Lane about 8.00 pm and saw a fat porcupine take his quarters in a roadside pipe.  Should have taken the camera with me.

May 12, 2010 Wednesday

This is our first day of floating for the season.  We had planned to do Town to Hell but with the wind from the north I decided it best to take the High Road over to Melrose and do Town to Brown instead as the wind would be at our back although today it is not so bad.

Eric at Sunrise said the Skawla thing was still working so that is what we tried first with no takers.  Switched to a stimulator and still no luck.  I pulled over just below a riffle and decided to try to nymph/dropper deal.  On the second cast a big ole whitefish had taken the size 20 dropper I had tied which had a bit of pheasant, a very small amount of hackle and a bead.  Two more casts and a second whitefish.  Three more casts and trout on!  I play him for a bit and bring to hand a beautiful 19" brown trout.  A few more casts and a 12" brown and I decide to move on although I bet I could have caught more fish.

Bets starts using the nymph rig and misses a few takes with just not enough speed in the hook set.  After lunch we are working a very nice seam river right about 6 feet from the shore when she has a taker, good hook set and fish on.  It is apparent early that this is a very good fish.  She is patient and makes a bit of progress and then the fish takes some line.  There is a log just off the shore so she is working hard to keep him from making it that far.  I have anchored the boat as we are near a divide in the river and a bunch of downfall which could be trouble.  Betsy continues to play the fish wonderfully and I get a couple of looks at him and he is big!

It takes every bit of 10 minutes and we manage to get him to net.  He has taken the size 20 dropper and the hook is in the corner of his mouth.  3X tippet and a size 20 hook is not much to catch a measured 24" brown trout on.  This is a magnificent fish and has a giant head and mouth.  We get a couple of pics and then he is safely released.  What a fish and our day is made.

We float on down to Browns Bridge and take out and make it back to Twin over the Burma Road which is beautiful as always.

The only thing is Bets may have on day one caught the biggest trout of the season.

Thursday May 13

I do the float from Town to Hell's Canyon and Bets goes to see her sheep.  It is cool in the morning early but gets almost hot as the day goes on and it is bright and cloudless.  It doesn't feel fishy and it turns out not to be fishy.  I don't catch a fish, I don't miss a fish and I don't see a fish.  Amazing.

I do see quite a lot of wildlife and it is as always beautiful.

Friday May 14, 2010

Betsy and I are fishing today with Joe Willow from the Stonefly.   He is by about 8.00 am and we discuss where we might fish today and decide we will do Notch to Pennington.  We get out to the Notch and as he is getting ready to tie on some flies realizes he left his boat bag with everything in it at his house in Twin.  Not good.  We think about going back to get it or maybe calling someone to meet us halfway.  We go a bit west on the Burma Road to get service and Seth is already left Twin and Clint the new help at the Stonefly is not around.  We decide what the hell, let's go to Melrose where he can buy some flies and get some tippet and then we can float Melrose to Brown's Bridge.

When we get to the Sunrise Fly Shop I give Joe some jive telling Eric and Ryan and Bill that we had hired this expert guide from Twin Bridges but he doesn't have any flies or tippet and just shake my head.  A good laugh for all.

We put in around 10.00 or so and at the first turn get a couple of whitefish.  I then get a trout and we are good to go.  Betsy is fishing the green legged nymph and the pheasant tail and I have the same nymph and a San Juan worm.  It is just on of those days when we catch fish after fish.  No giants but nice browns and rainbows and some more whitefish.  It is consistent for the entire day.  We are never more than 10 minutes without a fish and we have three doubles.

Joe is great, knows the river so very well.  I have floated this stretch countless times and fished it with other guides, but we fished some areas that I have always floated past and we caught a half dozen fish at each of them. It was a great lesson of how to read water and how to catch a lot of trout.

Just as we got down to the red cliffs river right and I said this is where we have seen the cow moose in years past I look up and just as if on cue there she is laying down on the riverbank.  We don't see her calf so maybe she is just getting ready and we will see it later.  Perfect addition to this incredible day of trout fishing.

Joe reminded us at the take out that we had fished the same flies all day and had not lost a single one and with all the fish we had caught they were all trashed.

They have this year started to tag some fish for research as to movement and growth etc.  Betsy caught six tagged fish and I caught exactly zero.  It is impossible odds that would happen but it did.  You report the numbers size and location of catch and they will tell you when and where it was tagged and its size then.

We are off the Dan and Andrea's in Dillon for dinner tonight.

Saturday May 15

Bets and I take a bye day and go over to Ennis for a look around.  On the way over just at Granite Creek on the south side of the road we see a bull moose and he decides he wants to come through the willows.  We stop the car and get some pics and then turn around as he is heading toward the road.  He crosses just in front of us and then effortlessly jumps a 3'6" barb wire fence and disappears into the willows.

Nice lunch at the Pharmacy with the wacky waitress who is like a floor show.

Dinner is wonderful at the Old Hotel.  What a great restaurant.

Sunday May 16

Bets wants to do the Town to Hell float to scout some wildlife.  She describes it as shopping on the river.  It is a most relaxing morning and we are out shortly after lunch.

I had plans to go to the Ruby wade fishing later but a case of the lazes got me.  We go to Sheridan to the Sump for a great burger.  Two old guys are having a discussion about their mutual friend and his propensity to have an extended drunk.  In fact they said he could have the same drunk for four days and always be most agreeable.  Bets asked me what "the same drunk" meant and I adlibbed I guess that means when you don't sober up but are continuously drunk for four days.  These westerners have a strong constitution.


Monday May 17
Bets and I fish with Gary and do the Jefferson from Secret Squirrel to Point of Rocks.  The river is skinny.  Just after we leave the put in and are fishing downstream with dry dropper with a skawla on top Bets has a taker on the dropper and as she sets the hook and the line tightens a fish jumps clear on the other side of the river.  It takes all of us a second to realize that is her fish and he makes a second great jump.  It takes a bit to get him to the boat but he is a bright 22" rainbow.  We think the day is going to be on fire.

Rooster comes up with his two sports who are the two guys who started Hatch reels.  I know this but as they come up and Rooster asks if we caught any and I say Betsy just boated a 22" rainbow but it took a while as "these sorry ass Hatch reel drags keep getting caught".. A good laugh for all.

We go along together for a while and nothing is happening so we raft up and have an early lunch.

We start again and it is slow but we pick up a fish or two now and then on the squala dry.  We have been fishing a while and Bets has a take on her dry and in a minute or two in the shallow water we see the fish.  He is huge and brown.  Betsy plays him carefully and after we have several looks at him and we are all trying to remain calm, Gary nets the fish and we measure him and he is 24" long.  This is crazy.  Bets has now boated two 24" brown trout and a 22" rainbow and the season is only beginning.

It remains slow for the afternoon with a few takes.  We are out at Point of Rock by about 3.30 and it has been a nice day.  The temp was about 80 degrees which is crazy.  We are wet wading in mid May.

Tuesday May 18

We are to go out to Pat's for late lunch? At 2.00 pm today.  It is a nice day and we go to the Schoolhouse as that is where we see her car.  Norm and Gretchen were to join us but had called to say they could not make it.

We have a very nice aperitif made from Comperia, Vodka and Orange Juice.  Well really we had two pitchers full so it was more libation than food although Pat had some nice cheese and had made a very nice quiche.  We sat out on the deck with spitting rain and saw the young cow moose cross the river.  Great.

We are back in Twin about 6.00 pm and decide that we should have a veggie pizza which is good as always.  Saw Jeff and Patty Walker who sold the Shack last fall and have been in Arizona for much of the winter.

Wednesday May 19

Bets takes a bye day and Joe Willingham has a day off guiding so we go to fish together.  I row for him from the Culvert on the Big Hole down past the Kuralt place and he lands one nice brown on streamer and misses about three including the first one which was a big fish.

I fish on down to Pennington and land a nice rainbow and farm one.  The river is coming up pretty quick and Joe says rising rivers never fish well.

Thursday May 20

Bets and I fish with Joe today.  When we get up it is raining in Twin and does not look to be a good day.  We say "hell, let's go fishing" and that's what we do.  We decide to fish the Beaverhead and as we are heading to Dillon the wind about blows the truck over.  But as we get to Dillon it is brightening.  We stop at Frontier to get our shuttle lined up and we head up to the dam.

It is getting colder by the minute and the wind is blowing pretty good.  We get in after Joe ties up those funky "pogo" deals on very long leaders.  They have shot on the bottom and then tiny nymphs tied on short tippet tied perpendicular to the leader.

We have not gone far and Bets hooks up and brings to net a 20 Inch brown trout.  She is really doing a number on the big fish.

Not too much further and she hooks up again and it is quite a battle before she brings the most beautiful bright colored rainbow trout to the net.  Another 20" fish but he is really fat and gorgeous.

She catches more fish   and finally I get a few.  This is crazy fishing.  The river is along I-15 with a frontage road on the other side.  Water is clear and the fish are here at about 3500 per mile.  Fortunately, there were not so many people as normal so it was better than most times.  There are big fish here but this is not the Montana experience we love.  Amazingly to me is that some people come to Montana and do this river day after day.  I would rather be lost on the Big Hole somewhere with the wildlife.

Oh, I forgot to mention not long after we started we had a few hours of "winter mix" that became mostly ice and the wind really got wound up.  You forget quickly that a couple of days ago it was high 80's and hot because now it is damn cold.

Friday May 21

It was supposed to be cold with snow showers this morning but when I looked out it was all about sunshine.  It was at freezing but this may be the last good weather day so time to go fishing.

I decide to head over to the Madison as the Big Hole is blown out and that seems like a logical choice.  I give Connie a call at Meadowlark Shuttles over in Ennis and after we say hello she says, "You still got that orange Honda?" and I say I do and it is ready for it has been resting all winter.  I tell her Varney to Eight Mile and gas to gas and she tells me $25 bucks and we are ready for the Madison season to begin.

When I get to Varney only one guide is there with his two sports and I am ready while he is still tying knots so I am in the water and floating.  I stop at the bridge just in case the bridge fish is still around but get no love.

Float down to the first corner river left and nymph a bit and get nothing not even a whitey.  Just down and around the corner pull in to try an inside seam and nothing.

Float on down a ways and pull up where the first river right channel from Varney returns to the river and wade up to a good drop just below a riffle and do the size 10 rubber legged green nymph with the san juan and nothing.  I take off the San Juan and put on a size 14 March brown emerger I had tied and on the second cast a nice rainbow is brought to hand.  Two more casts and I hook it in a low lying tree and it is the only one.  Slowly I make the wade across and stay dry and don't fall in a hole and retrieve my stuff and for a bonus get a fly someone else has contributed.

I work along and have a go or two at likely spots and get nothing.  The river is at 1000 cfs and has a little color but is fine.  A few changes but nothing major for last year.

I stop for lunch and then hop out and work back upstream to a nice drop and work it pretty hard but no luck.  Just downstream there is a braid to the right with some deep water beyond so I work from the bank and make a cast or two and there is a taker and I roll a very nice brown trout which I fell to get a good hook set on.

Right back in and there is a taker and a nice 15" rainbow.  A few more casts and a very fat and thick 18" rainbow, a few more casts and a big ole white fish and then a few more and a 14" rainbow.  This is a great spot and then that is that.

I float on along and with the weather beginning to make its fun from the south and west I just float merrily along.  I love to be out in the water, seeing bald eagles setting in trees near their nest, deer along the shore, ducks paired up and cattle aimlessly grazing with the spectacular Madison Range as a backdrop.

I row on past Burnt Tree heading to Eight Mile and when I get there to the new ramp built last year there is no truck and then I realize I am at Burnt Tree and have the order screwed up.  I get to the road, get a pick up from the first passing van and am ferried to Eight Mile and hop out but there is no truck.  I call Connie but no answer.  I walk up to the road and in just a minute here they come.  I tell her the season is off to a great start as I rowed passed Eight Mile and she is late.  We have a good laugh.

A wonderful day on the river and I can't wait for more and more.

Saturday May 22
We wake up to rain on the roof and it is a welcomed sound as the water is needed.  As the day progresses we have more rain and then snow.  It is very unusual for in the five years we have been around Twin there are days of showers but not days of rain.  It is snowing just up on the bench and that means the higher elevations are getting meaningful amounts of snow.  Great.

We were supposed to go over above Wise River with Pat to visit a woman who has a cabin up in the mountains that is off the grid we think.  She has been around the area for some time with her family originally from back east but now winters in California.  Anyway she is quite a good photographer and we have bought a couple of her things from the Old Hotel who displays them from time to time.  We wimp out with the weather and call it off.  Pat comes by for lunch and we have a good time.

A good nap in the afternoon, tie a few flies which are getting better.  It always seems as if they are never good but always getting better.

Dinner at the Old Hotel which is incredible.  Donald Rumsfeld who bought the ranch out the Burma Road last year with what looks like a brother and their wives.  He is a little guy and maybe that is his problem with the "little man complex" of always trying to be a bad ass.

Sunday May 23

It is a day of rain and snow but we take a ride around the Tobacco Root Mountains, up to Whitehall, then to Harrison, Pony, Norris, Ennis, Virginia City etc.  It is a beautiful drive and the valley opposite Twin is just an incredible landscape.


Monday May 24

More rain.  Not much doing.  Hang out at the Stonefly a bit with the guys telling stories.  We do the Silver Bow drive and see lots of deer, several pheasants and then just over the Ruby River we see a pair of moose just hanging out eating grass near the willows.  We watch for some time but of course I did not bring my camera.

Tuesday May 25

We make the drive up to Helena and the road from Cardwell up to Boulder is being ripped out and a new one built.  That takes a while.
We decide to go to the state museum which turns out to be a great idea.  There is a great exhibit about the creation of Glacier Park and it was indeed a stylish time.

The real thing is the Charles Russell gallery.  It is just amazing and tells quite a lot about this great western artist.  Born in St Louis he was always about art and the west.  Finally at 16 his parents allowed him to go west thinking he would get over it but that was not to be.  He was there for the rest of his life.  First working as a ranch hand and then later in life as his fame spread a successful artist.  His paintings, bronzes, wax and even his letters to friends were marvels of the west.  He illustrated a great empathy for the Indians and many paintings were done from their point of view.

For lunch we found a small place called Got Gumbo which was incredible.  Now that is a find.



that last picture is incredible

"The richness I achieve comes from Nature, the source of my inspiration."
-Claude Monet

Get Bent

Konichiwa Bitches!


Great post!!  Thanks for sharing.  I am going to Montan for the first time ever next month with my son.  Am hoping to see and enjoy some of the wonderful sights you share.  We will be wade fishing.  From our reading we both want to fish the Big Hole and the Boulder.  Will see what the water is like there and other places when we get to Cameron on July 13.  Staying at Driftwaters Resort. Have booked two days floating--one on the Madison and the other on the Yellowstone.  Can hardly wait.


Bets rules !!

Thanks for taking us along

Stalk softly and carry a green stick.


Your timing looks perfect!
We have gone from very dry in May to 135% of snowpack now and the rivers have been rocking.  The Big HOle at Glen reached 10,000 cfs a few days ago but is now less than half that and should be about perfect next week.  Now at about 4500 cfs and clarity is good.  the elusive stonefly happened between Maidenrock and Melrose the last coupld of days..they are some big bugs!

Madison is fine at about 1300 cfs and fishing well.  Floated Varney to Town a couple of times and it is doiong fine.  Above Varney they have been catching fish on a Chartreuse streamer below an indicator.

Fished the Firehole last week and it was great.  Caught fish early on soft hackle nymph and then caught a perfect blonde caddis hatch from 11 - 2  and caught 20+.  They were tight and I mean tight to the grass.  Fished a riffle below the Middle Geyser parking area about half a mile of so.

It is all good and these rivers deserve their reputations.  don't be shy about talking to the guys hanging at fly shops.  Buy a few flys and they will help you.

Good fishing 


Well the dry west is now saturated and it is still raining.  Cold front coming from Alaska so maybe that will stop it.  Rivers are full and rocking.  A few drift boats now litter the Big Hole as yes you can turn one over and it will leave you.

Big Hole near 5000 cfs and it was less than half that last year this time and it was a good year.  We may be hopper fishing in November this year.  Fish are however still eating if you can see your stuff in whitewater.