Trip Report Cold Morning on Deep Shadow Creek

In a radical departure from the last few months, Friday morning on Deep Shadow Creek was cold, frosty cold. It was in the low 40s as I left the house pre-dawn in Bozeman, but quickly dropped into the 20s as I traveled into the Deep Shadow Creek valley. At the put-in the truck showed a temp of 27 degrees and there was plenty of frost on the vegetation to back that up. Time to break out the Hot Hands and an extra layer of clothing.
The creek was a steamy 48 degrees but air temps kept everything that got wet iced up for a couple of hours. As I worked my way upstream I was looking for those deep, dark shadowy haunts favored by brown trout. Deep Shadow Creek was loaded with them as it meanders through the valley. Even with the low flows we are experiencing this year, these haunts usually have sufficient water and flow to harbor secretive browns. It was early Fall in MT and that meant a decent chance bigger browns would be moving into Deep Shadow Creek from downstream to spawn. As the day moved on, there were plenty of new redds to be seen in the pool tailouts.
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In the super clear, cold water, a small woolly bugger on a 4 weight was the fly of choice. Swung tight to the deep bank side cover in the low light was the ticket to enticing decent browns from their hidey holes. My favorite targets are what I call Brown Trout Apartments—large chunks of bank side vegetation that have collapsed into the creek but retain their attachment to the bank via roots. These usually have been undercut by current and not only provide an ideal holding spot along deep pool edges, they create small back eddys immediately downstream. More times than not, a well placed bugger just upstream from the target and swung tight to the bank will produce a brown.
Deep Shadow Creek is also a decent rainbow stream as well, especially when the bugs are going. The cold weather put the bugs on hold until about 11AM, but once they got going it was easy to the target the rainbows in the riffle buckets and bank side eddys. The day warmed up nicely and it was in the low 70s as I left the river about 1PM. Didn’t see another angler all day and had the 3.5 miles of river I fished all to myself. Cold, lonely and productive.

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