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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello Everyone:

I've been thinking about a solo fly fishing road trip this coming summer - not sure of the exact dates yet but, I plan on being on the road for about 2 or 3 weeks. I'll start at my home in Seattle, drive through eastern Washington, Idaho, and Montana where I'll turn right and head south through Wyoming, Colorado, Utah (?), and New Mexico (where I'll meet up with old college and graduate school friends who are non-fly fishers and remained there after I left).

My ideal plan would be to fish streams and rivers where I can walk and wade or use my frameless pontoon boat. I always like an adventurous physical challenge but, I don't want to go out of my way to break my 70 year old neck. I would also like to camp out and stay in motels/hotels/lodges every two or three days for a hot shower and to become pleasant smelling enough to accommodate civilized society.

The reason I'm posting here is that if I can help it, I don't want to reinvent the wheel. That is, I'm wondering if anyone has done a similar trip and has any advice. I'll continue to read about fly fishing in these states; if you've got suggestions for locations, books and/or maps, etc. to look at, I'd appreciate those, too.

Thank you all in advance.

Jerry
 

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Aloha Jerry, that is a lot of ground to cover in 2-3 weeks. I have fished all of those states except New Mexico. I would get a Delorm map for each of the states and look at travel time and where you want to fish. I have found that it takes more than a day to really fish a place, just so much water to cover. I would also suggest a couple of floats just to be on some of the best trout water in the west. For example the Big Horn and the Green should not be missed. Other than that there are plenty of outstanding streams and creeks to fish, it just depends on your time and energy. Different states have different rules about water rights and where you can fish, so that should factor in as well. Best pick a path and fish a couple of must fish places for a couple of days instead of just making it down the road. Mems.
 

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Yeah thats a lot to cover, with high grading all the waters a tough call. Mostly it depends on what sorts of water you like to fish, or if certain waters are on your must do/bucket list.
I can barely do Montana and Idaho in two weeks......and I mean barely hit the places I like.
 

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BigDog
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I have also fished all of those states, except New Mexico. I only have a couple of recommendations. Bear in mind these are personal preferences. I have my opinions on what water I'd hit on such a trip, but I'll leave that up to you.
1) Don't stop driving until you are in northern Idaho or western Montana. Given the limited time and distance you have to travel, there ain't nuthin' in WA worth the stop.
2) If you are solo, leave your pontoon boat behind. There are so many good places to wade and fish and setting up logistics to float will cost you a lot of time actually on the water.

Have fun; sounds like a great trip!
Dick
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks to all of you who responded so quickly! Everyone on the WFFC site always seems to be helpful and willing to share their knowledge. In the next few days, I'll try to narrow down the waters I want to fish and post that info here to see what you all think. In the meantime, I do like fishing small creeks and I've never minded catching small fish on ultralight tackle (although, I do have to admit that the cataract surgery I had last spring makes tying small flies a bit easier again). Catching a few big rainbows, cutthroat, and/or browns would be welcome, too. I like Mems idea about doing a couple of float trips; do you have favorite guides and rivers?

Keep the ideas coming, please.

Jerry
 

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Buenos Hatches Ese
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That might not be enough time, but it sounds like you're retired?? So just take as long as it takes.... Here is how I would do it...

Seattle > St. Joe > St. Regis > Bitterroot > Blackfoot > Rock Creek > Yellowstone > Snake > Green > South Platte > Conejos > Chama > San Juan > Colorado > Truckee > Pyramid Lake > Owyhee > Deschutes > Seattle
 

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We did almost 3 weeks out of Portland and did 3 on the Yellowstone, 3 around Dillon (beaverhead x2 and the Jeff) , 2 on the Madison out of ennis , and 2 out of Island Ford (Henry's Fork and South Fork), along with a few days off and some long range rifle instruction in Twin and a visit to pick up a rod.

If I had it to do over again I would spend more time in Island Ford...I like to do a few days on each river more than 1 on a ton of rivers but there is something to be said for fishing more rivers.
 

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Hey Jerry, are you from New Mexico? I was born and raised in the southern parts of the state but know quite a number of smaller rivers that are a blast to fish. Depending how far south you'll be I could be of some help. Im sure you'll find no shortage of info on the northern half as its quite famous.

John
 

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That might not be enough time, but it sounds like you're retired?? So just take as long as it takes.... Here is how I would do it...

Seattle > St. Joe > St. Regis > Bitterroot > Blackfoot > Rock Creek > Yellowstone > Snake > Green > South Platte > Conejos > Chama > San Juan > Colorado > Truckee > Pyramid Lake > Owyhee > Deschutes > Seattle
TO nailed it.
Copy this and delete the evidence.
I'm saving my copy.
 

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Jerry -

First off, it sounds to me like you're trying to tackle an awfully lot of real estate in such a short time frame. Personally, I would either cut out some of that itinerary, or else extend the trip duration significantly. I've done a few road trips from places like Portland, Seattle and Denver to Idaho and Montana that lasted a couple weeks, and I found I spent almost as much time on the road as I did fishing and camping.

Second is the timing of your trip. Keep in mind that many of the rivers in Idaho and a Montana (I'm not as familiar with states farther south) don't clear following spring runoffs until late June or early July, depending on snowpacks. Then, you'll also be contending with heavy tourist traffic in July - August, at least around where I am located in SW Montana, that can make finding a place to stay in a motel nearly impossible unless you have reservations far in advance - you'll have more success finding a place to pitch a tent if you go to forest service or BLM campgrounds, however, versus established RV-type campgrounds.

As far a specific places to go, I'll limit my suggestions to a few places near me, some of which have already been mentioned:

Rock Creek near Missoula, MT.
Missouri River near Wolf Creek and Craig, MT.
Yellowstone River in the vicinity of Livingston and Gardiner, MT (best to hire a guide and float the river, but also some wade access as well).
Lamar River in Yellowstone Park.
Madison River below Hebgen Lake all the way to Ennis, MT and/or lower Madison River below Ennis Lake if earlier in the year season.
Henry's Fork around Last Chance, ID and/or around Ashton, ID.

Those places alone could keep a person busy for a lifetime of fishing and exploring.

Have a nice trip.

John
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Again. all of you guys are phenomenal! Your suggestions are wonderful. Even though I've been retired for almost three years, I still have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew. I may have to hit fewer rivers and spend more time in each location - maybe even shorten the number of miles.

John, I didn't grow up in New Mexico. However, whenever I think about it, it feels like home. I grew up in L.A. and went to UNM for my B.A. and M.A. - was there from 1966 to early 1972. I have a "black sheep" family member and good friends mostly in Central NM (Albuquerque/Los Lunas area) and north central NM. Even if my trip takes me through New Mexico, I doubt very much if I'll get to the southern part of the state.
 

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When I'm driving like that I keep my Tenkara rod collapsed but with line and an attractor fly sitting on the passenger seat. If I see a good pool by the road I stop for a pee and a few casts. Last trip to Missoula I picked up 16" rainbow on the John Day and an 18" cutty on the Lochsa, both on the first cast.
 

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BigDog
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As far a specific places to go, I'll limit my suggestions to a few places near me, some of which have already been mentioned:

Rock Creek near Missoula, MT.
Missouri River near Wolf Creek and Craig, MT.
Yellowstone River in the vicinity of Livingston and Gardiner, MT (best to hire a guide and float the river, but also some wade access as well).
Lamar River in Yellowstone Park.
Madison River below Hebgen Lake all the way to Ennis, MT and/or lower Madison River below Ennis Lake if earlier in the year season.
Henry's Fork around Last Chance, ID and/or around Ashton, ID.

Those places alone could keep a person busy for a lifetime of fishing and exploring.

Have a nice trip.

John
I certainly can't fault John for a great list of waters in the area (although I'll bet he has a longer list that he keeps to himself :). However, given the OP's time constraints, I think I'd recommend saving the MO and Yellowstone for later, since they are a little out of the way, and go from RC to either the Big Hole and then Madison, or to the Gallatin. Then, via either of those routes, end up on the Henry's Fork before hitting some Yellowstone water and heading off to WY, CO, and NM.
Dick
 

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Let's Go Brandon!!
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Jerry -

First off, it sounds to me like you're trying to tackle an awfully lot of real estate in such a short time frame. Personally, I would either cut out some of that itinerary, or else extend the trip duration significantly. I've done a few road trips from places like Portland, Seattle and Denver to Idaho and Montana that lasted a couple weeks, and I found I spent almost as much time on the road as I did fishing and camping.

Second is the timing of your trip. Keep in mind that many of the rivers in Idaho and a Montana (I'm not as familiar with states farther south) don't clear following spring runoffs until late June or early July, depending on snowpacks. Then, you'll also be contending with heavy tourist traffic in July - August, at least around where I am located in SW Montana, that can make finding a place to stay in a motel nearly impossible unless you have reservations far in advance - you'll have more success finding a place to pitch a tent if you go to forest service or BLM campgrounds, however, versus established RV-type campgrounds.

As far a specific places to go, I'll limit my suggestions to a few places near me, some of which have already been mentioned:

Rock Creek near Missoula, MT.
Missouri River near Wolf Creek and Craig, MT.
Yellowstone River in the vicinity of Livingston and Gardiner, MT (best to hire a guide and float the river, but also some wade access as well).
Lamar River in Yellowstone Park.
Madison River below Hebgen Lake all the way to Ennis, MT and/or lower Madison River below Ennis Lake if earlier in the year season.
Henry's Fork around Last Chance, ID and/or around Ashton, ID.

Those places alone could keep a person busy for a lifetime of fishing and exploring.

Have a nice trip.

John
BINGO!!
 

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If you fish the Green you should try and get Doug Roberts Ol Moe fishing. It is a tailwater, so it won't really matter when you fish it. You have lots of choices. Just pick where you really want to fish and then spend the time to explore on your own. Too bad you are going solo. I spent many summers out West with both my Dad and my Son exploring and finding our favorite waters. Go make some memories. Mems.
 

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One of you younger dudes who are familiar with some of the rivers mentioned here, and who plan to be between careers this summer, might offer to travel with Gerald, help with the driving and campmaking, in exchange for his gas and vehicle, and a chance to visit new and old great places. Fluency in geezer speech and/or keeping some of your opinions to yourself preferred.:cool:
 
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