Emma and I were talking the other day ahead of one of the big rollover lottery days. It’s great having those sort of conversations about what you’d do if you had a huge windfall and how you’d spend it. Clearly, fish was on my agenda and I thought it would be nice to buy a beat here and there for me and my friends to enjoy. I thought it would be nice to also have somewhere abroad and I wasn’t too sure where it would be, but I now know!
It is Missoula in Montana. Of all the places I have been lucky enough to visit in my angling life this is the real deal as far as I am concerned. It has everything; good people, great rivers, a great feel and some damn fine coffee shops! One even had a fly shop attached which meant we could have breakfast, coffee and then do some shopping. It doesn’t get much better than that.
As ever, I was accompanied by Ray (The Dude) who is the best company I could wish for and has been present on all of the very best overseas fishing trips. He knows the town and the fishing, and a childhood friend John lives there and has his own drift boat.
The thing I loved about Missoula was the sheer variety of fishing that was on the doorstep but despite being Montana’s second biggest town with a population of 75,000 it never felt busy and a 10 minute drive out of town you were in fishing country. We ticked off some of the rivers I’d read about and then dreamt about, The Bitteroot, Blackfoot, Clark Fork and Rock Creek and started a bit further afield on the Big Hole which was a special day for so many reasons that I’ll be writing about in the very near future.
On the way back from the Big Hole we fished the Bitteroot for the first time and I think I can speak on behalf of the Dude when I say we were smitten. We happened to sniff out an excellent fly shop in Hamilton and got talking to Sean the owner who pointed us to some water at the edge of town. If I wasn’t on a fishing holiday I might have felt a little dubious about being sent to the town water but how spot on was Sean? Right on the money! First pool I fished was stuffed with fish and I managed browns, rainbows, cutts and whitefish on a NZ set up. Sean you are the man!
If you are ever in Montana drop by his store you won’t regret it. The nice thing was that he’d just dropped by to check out some things and had the day off. I was even more pleased to hear he was going fishing and we managed to bump into him again as his drift boat came to the parking ramp just as we were starting to hit a spinner fall.
There is loads more to tell you about, which I will in time, but it was great to meet John and to get a couple of days fishing with him and to see the Dude at the helm of the drift boat. Great work matey!
Although trout fishing has stopped here we have grayling and pike to get to work on and I need to dust down my permit flies. One of those would be a great way to finish 2010 and think we might have a few new surprises for you for 2011!