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Kevin Sproule | profile | all galleries >> 1996 >> August 9, 1996 --- Bighorn River, Montana tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

August 9, 1996 --- Bighorn River, Montana

Fort Smith, Montana, population 50? Population of fly fishermen 2500? Thirteen and a half hours from home, I got in about 9:30 last night. Jess, Mac, Park and Buddy arrive about 10:30, mildly lost. Dusty little prairie town out here in the sagebrush and antelope, seems like most enterprise is devoted to fly fishing. Amazing (to me) scene down at the river. HORDES of fellow fly fishermen, guides, boats, etc. We've got 95 degree heat (mercifully calm), four novice fly fishermen and guides Ron Oates and Dave Palumbo are in charge. I'm skeptical, but there's got to be a reason all these folks are here. Without much ado, Dave gets us rigged up for nymphing with a chunk of orange "Amnesia" butt, a 9' 3X leader, some soft lead moulded above the knot, then another 18" or so to an orange scud, then another 18" or so to a #18 or so Trico spinner. Strike indicator is a chunk of combed-out and trimmed poly yarn, tied to the amnesia butt section. Lo and behold, within 5 minutes Jess is on to a nice rainbow - turns out that Dave really seems to know what he's about - 27 years old, from New York originally, guide and commercial fly tier. Just got back from Cape Cod catching 20 lb. stripers in the surf; spent a winter in the Keys chasing cuda; has guided on Armstrong's and the Madison; now lives in Oregon on the Deschutes river. Ron lives in Libby, Montana - mid 40's? also an outfitter; really into pike fishing on flies in the spring - loves Badger Lake east of Vulcan. Jess, Mac and I go with Dave, Park and Buddy with Ron. Everybody catches fish, nice browns and rainbows; Jess gets a fat whitefish. Dave had been fishing the last couple of days, so he know's what's happening; the trout are loving the sunken trico spinner all morning. We do some sight fishing in the fast shallow riffles - big fish are caught. Switch to a black caddis pupa trailer in the p.m., and it works great, too (on the swing quite frequently). See enormous numbers of trout on the wavy moss, unbelievable numbers of FFF's on the way, and lots of people hooked up. Altho Dave's sunken trico seemed to be better than most in the a.m. Massive numbers of caddis emerge in the late p.m., and again at dusk. By day's end, everybody has caught and landed some fish (i.e. Jess 6, me 10 or 15); missed/broke off/screwed up many more. Buddy lands fat 'bow with a big audience; I get a nice brown on the dry fly with the 3 wt.