This summer we took our ’85 VW Vanagon on a bit of a journey through the Rocky Mountain West. Between Montana, Idaho, and Colorado, we added a few thousand miles to the speedometer, replaced a few crucial parts, tilted *slightly* off axis, and even hosted a rodent companion for a night (sorry Andrew). In its most honest definition, we truly embraced the trout bum lifestyle. From fast-paced high mountain streams in Colorado, to the majestic Madison River in Montana, we got a taste of some of the finest trout fishing in the west. While the fishing was, well, incredible, it’s the people and communities whom we shared these experiences that made it not only possible, but unforgettable.
YELLOWSTONE VALLEY, MONTANA
Our next stop dropped us into Livingston to meet up with a new friend, Ryan Callaghan (aka Cal). Known for his mustache and Meateater personality, Cal is also a dedicated angler and conservationist. They say you can tell a lot about a man by the truck he drives. When Cal pulled up next to our van in a truck big enough to sleep him AND a mature bull elk, we knew he meant business. Wonder if the same logic can be applied for vans... Anyways, we departed the Albertsons parking lot in a warm afternoon light and Cal jumped in the passenger seat as Chief Navigator. We didn't know where we were headed, but Cal did and that's all that mattered.
After a bit of driving down frontage roads and through farmland, we arrived at our destination; a tributary of the mighty Yellowstone River. Rigging up was a bit distracted amidst ongoing conversation, but nevertheless a short walk through a grassy field led us to the river. On the drive in, Cal said, "Montana never looks this green at this time of year". It was a phrase that came up all over during our travels through big sky country. High snow-pack the past winter meant the lands and waterways were still saturated with water, keeping the hillsides green and rivers high. A bit swollen still from runoff, the water was plenty cold on our feet.
Being Cal's home water, he knew it well and naturally had no problem finding fish in the higher conditions. We even got a good brown to chase an agressively skated caddis out from a piece of turbulent white-water. It immediately went airborne, over and over again. Our short evening session came to a proper end at a historic hotel bar with the best hand-formed Bison burgers this side of the Yellowstone. Thanks for showing us around, Cal.
Stay tuned for the next installment of our Trout Season Recap.