GUEST BLOG POST: Judith O’Keefe, Fishing Montana in July
Judith O’Keefe is ready for summer! Because with summer comes her favorite fishing trip in Montana at Five Rivers lodge. After reading this, you just may be looking up flights and calling your fishing buddies, too.
July is a long way off, but I’m already dreaming about Montana . . . fishing in Montana that is. As many of you know firsthand, the wild and scenic landscape, amazing wildlife, and friendly folks are just the beginning. The fishing is almost always wonderful and at times . . . spectacular.
Home base is the beautiful Five Rivers Lodge. The lodge is situated in the Beaverhead Valley, just outside of the town of Dillon. This location provides easy access to the Beaverhead, Big Hole, Ruby, Madison and Jefferson rivers, not to mention some incredible private water. Innkeepers, Jay Burgin and Mary Jacques, are the perfect hosts, serving up some of the best food and drink this side of the Mississippi. Many of the Five Rivers guides are native Montanans who’ve grown up fishing these rivers. They’re professionals and they know their stuff.
When I think about those yearly sojourns, my minds fills with memories of the floats and the fish and that pair of moose we came across while hiking into the Big Hole River last September. But if I had to choose just one experience to relive, it would be floating the Beaverhead in late July. For me, there is nothing better than casting a streamer pattern to the bank, knowing sooner than later, I’m going to entice a big brown trout to bite.
In my humble opinion, the Beaverhead is one of the premier brown trout rivers in the west. It produces more large trout than any other river in Montana. Beginning at Clark Canyon Dam, near Dillon, it flows for 80 miles to the confluence with the Jefferson River. The upper stretch of river is known primarily for its nymph fishing. Some claim the bulk of large fish are caught on nymphs and streamers.
While streamer fishing is near the top of my list, I also love fishing big, dry flies. Who doesn’t? The Beaverhead River has solid hatches throughout the year, and is especially known for its caddis hatch. Typically, early mornings and evenings are the best time to use dry flies. Bright, sunny weather may provide a little more of a challenge in mid-day, as the fish generally stay down deep and under cover. When the fish are coming to the surface to feed, I like the popular staple, the Elk Hair Caddis, size 16 – 18. The Sparkle Dun and the X-Caddis also work well. Later in the summer the hopper fishing can be great and my fly box is filled with patterns like the Idylwilde Red Legged Hopper or Morrish’s Hopper, size 8 – 10.
Those long summer days are nearly perfect, filled with warm sunshine, clear, cold water and lots of fish. Once the drift boat is secure on the trailer and the gear stowed, it’s then time to head down to the Metlen Hotel Bar for the official drink of summer, the Moscow Mule. Hmmm, Montana.
2 oz. vodka
8 oz. Cock & Bull Ginger Beer
Squeeze of fresh lime juice
Mix and serve in a true copper mug.