After a couple of days rest, I decided on an early morning Sunday trip to a Boundary water reasonably close to Bozeman. I generally avoid weekend trips, but for some waters Sundays provide a high probability that no other anglers will be around. There’s always at least a 10% chance I’ll run into another angler but the probabilities are against it. First, Sundays are get away days and a lot of traveling anglers are either leaving or arriving and just don’t fish on get away day. At least 30-40% of anglers don’t have a clue where to go no matter what day it is. Some 10-20% are staying in B&B type accommodations and just can’t forego that 8AM free breakfast. Another 10-20% have self accommodation and spent a boat load of $$ on groceries they just can let go unused. Of course, a reasonable % have to go to church on Sunday morning. There’s also those fellows who believe fish don’t play well in the cool mornings. If I do run into another angler, its probably a guy that got a good nights sleep, didn’t bother with breakfast and generally knows what’s what.
Arduous Boundary Water is a high gradient, pocket water stream. Just coming out of runoff, the stream was clear, but still a bit high. Predominantly a brown trout stream, but cutts, bows and whitefish were also in the cards. Mostly 10-14” fish, but with the 4 weight and swift current, they provided a lot of pull. I’d fish about a mile of water in the morning. Once I got parked and geared up, it was about a 20 minute walk across dry, rocky terrain riddled with prickly pear cactus to the spot I’d start fishing. Arduous Boundary Water is a healthy stonefly stream and the usual approach were large black and golden stone nymphs free lined along the stream margins or in deep pockets. Strikes came often but connected only 1/3 of the time due to the swift current. We were probably still a week away from the Salmon Fly hatch as there were very few nymphal shucks on stream side rocks. Pronghorns and elk were about and a cow elk with calf secreted herself in the willows to watch me pass.
It usually takes about 5 hours and half a box of flies to cover the mile of river. Free-lining nymphs in fast water along with stream side brush is not fly friendly. This is an arduous mile as one must scramble up and down steep gravelly banks, navigate willows, wild rose and currents to move upstream. No stream side corridor here as wading farther than a foot from the bank can be treacherous.
Although the morning was sunny, the stream for the most part remains in shadows well into the morning. I cut my trip back to the vehicle by a few 100yards as thunderstorms were predicted around noon. By 10AM the north wind had freshened making presentation a tad more difficult. Thunderheads were forming in the surrounding mountains. Time to head home. For most of the way back, I ended up driving through some well needed torrential rain. Another lonely morning on Arduous Boundary Water.