Road trip through Montana/Idaho

Reading Dan Cuomo's report on taking his girlfriend fishing made me want to share some about the trip I took with my wife a few weeks back.

We had decided to take our annual fall vacation out to Montana. Atomic Wife has a good friend who lives in Missoula who we haven't seen in quite a while. She suggested I bring the fly rod and we could stop and fish a couple places along the way. We also decided to make a stop in Island Park, Idaho for a couple days. Her parents lived there for a few years and it might be fun to explore that area a little bit. This wasn't meant to be a fishing specific trip by any means, but I hoped to get out at least a couple times while we were there. In passing I asked her one evening if she was interested in giving fly fishing a try at all. Surprisingly she said she was! I picked up an inexpensive 5wt combo from cabelas. Not knowing if she would take to it, I didn't want to spend much on gear that might gather dust in the garage. We practiced casting on the lawn a few times before we left and I was confident that she was capable enough to go out and catch a fish or two.

After a few days relaxing in Missoula with friends, we hit the road. On the way out of town we stopped for a quick break on the Bitterroot River right near town. I waded out in my flip flops for about half an hour and wife lounged in the sun on the beach. Lots fish feeding on the surface, but I couldn't catch any of them. On the way back I tied on a soft hackle to fish a shallow riffle right near where wife was sitting. I let it swing a couple times, then started walking back to shore to leave. I was talking with wife and the fly was still dangling straight downstream from me and BAM, a nice little trout smashed the fly and headed for the hills. I stripped it in, but after a couple leaps it spit the hook. Still, it was enough to bring a smile to my face and get wife interested in doing some fishing.

Headed out I-90 a short time later, we saw signs for Rock Creek. On a whim, we decide to turn off and check it out. We'd never been up there before. We drove a couple miles up the road and pulled off to take a look. The water was low and the wading looked easy, likely a good spot for wife to wet a line for the first time. We found a nice run, many trout could be seen down in the slow, clear water. We spent a while casting to them, but never got so much as a bite. No worries, we hopped back in the car and headed further east.

That night we had a reservation at Yellowstone Valley Lodge in Paradise Valley. The cabins sit right on the Yellowstone. Wife decided to sit on the patio with a book and a beer and I walked down to the water. I fished for about half an hour from the bank and landed 4 whitefish in that time. The following morning wife wanted to go down and try and catch one of those whiteys, so we spent a couple hours before checkout time drifting nymphs along the bank. I caught another whitey and hooked a trout that jumped and spit the hook. Unfortunately no fish for wife again.

We stopped at one of the access points along the Yellowstone for several hours and cast hoppers along a dropoff. We both were getting tons of fish coming up and inspecting the flies, but they were mostly just veering off at the last second. I had a couple nice fish take the hopper under, but couldn't hook up. It was still exciting watching the topwater action despite the skunking.

Our next stop was a cabin we had rented in Island Park, Idaho. The view at the cabin wasn't the best, but it had a hot tub on the back deck and was just across the street from the Henry's Fork. We stopped in at Trouthunter to ask about places to fish. I made it clear that wife is a beginner and I'm a mediocre trout fisherman on the best of days. I wasn't really interested in getting skunked there at Last Chance. I just wanted wife to catch fish. They pointed us to Warm River down near Ashton. We probably wouldn't find any large fish, but we would find them plentiful and feisty. So the next day we headed that way. We suited up and wandered upstream from the campground area and found a nice, quiet section of water. I tied stimulators on for both of us and put wife in front of the nicest section of water. It was pretty impressive how quickly her casting improved once she got out on the water. She picked up mending pretty well, too. It wasn't long before she was getting strikes from hungry trout on the stimi.

Eventually she got her timing down and hooked into her very first fish on the fly rod. After a moment of paniced "WHAT DO I DO??" she brought the fish in and I netted it for her. A nice, spunky little rainbow. At this point I think she was hooked!

The following morning we decided to head back to Warm River again and check out some spots further upstream. The weather was fantastic and the forest was beautiful.

After some hiking we found another nice run next to some brush and a beaver hut. Again wife brought a nice little rainbow to hand

I managed to catch yet another whitey on a nymph, and then a 7" rainbow after that. A bit later wife hooked into a nice trout that spit the hook before she could get it in hand. Based on the bend in her rod, I think it was a fair bit bigger than her previous days' fish.

On the way out we stopped back at the first hole we had fished for one last try. Small bows were still eager for the stimulator and I caught my first ever brown trout. Not exactly trophy sized, but it counts!

Much to my surprise, wife wasn't quite ready to be done fishing yet. On the previous evening we had spotted a small creek while driving around Island Park. We found some nearby parking and checked it out. What we found was one of the coolest little creeks I've ever been on. Just beautiful clear water winding through the woods.

Every bend had a cut bank that was loaded with small, hungry trout. We didn't land any, I suspect our flies may have been too big and bushy for them to get a good bite on, but nearly every cast would result in at least one strike. Wife said she had 4 different strikes on the same drift once. It was a fantastic way to wind down our day as well as our trip.

The following morning started the long drive back to Eastern Washington. We were both weary from the driving and the week away from home, but were completely satisfied with the trip. No trophy fish were caught, but seeing my wife excited to catch fish, and feel like she was doing well with her fly rod was wonderful. Can't wait to do it again.


Hello My name is Thad and Im addicted to flyfishin
Dude, that girl is grippin the shit out of that fish. Cool. Don't get on her bad side that may be you neck some day. Thanks for the report.
Sounds like a great trip, A-dog! The Warm river is one of my old haunts and is one of the place my wife first tried fly fishing, too. We try to get back every few years. There's an access point to the canyon stretch a few miles above the campground that you should try to find next time.


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