Anyone can drop a worm-baited hook and sinker into a puddle and hope for a nibble; but true sportsmen never settle for nibbles.
They spend years wading through streams, lakes, creeks and rivers, selectively whittling down a vast list of potential fishing holes until they find the one that demands heaven’s light part the clouds and warm its banks with its godly rays.
The catch is… many true sportsmen also despise letting wannabe newbie sportsmen crowd into their sacred holes. So how can an aspiring fisherman or fisherwoman get a line in the right water without wasting time catching minnows or… nothing at all?
Some rare sportsmen love the thrill of the catch so much that they will give hints to their favorite fishing spots to those they deem worthy enough to join the ranks of dedicated Montana fishermen.
Royd Hansen is a native Montanan who grew up along the Swan River near Condon. He has a secret hole that sits swirling with trout just down the bank from his home:
“The Swan River is my fishing paradise. Looking around the valley I can usually always see some kind of wildlife. Plus, you can’t beat the clear view of the Mission Mountains.
At my spot, the river makes a tight bend and there’s a fallen tree across it where you can cross from one side of the bank to the other.
It’s on the main river. I recommend fishing from the gravel bar. Place your line on the opposite side of the river, where there’s a steep bank and deep water. You can always use the trusty Panther Marten, or just a fly on the surface.
I feel closest to home when I fish this part of the river. Regardless of whether I have a trophy fishing day or no luck at all, I always leave feeling refreshed and knowing I can always come back to fishing the Swan.”
Jason Hurt is another expert navigator of Montana’s trout-rich waters. Based out of Missoula, he has traveled all over the state to find the best stretches of river:
“My favorite fishing season is grasshopper season on the Beaverhead river, usually in July and August. You can put in at Dillon and float clear past Twin Bridges to Ruby Valley.
One of the best places is just below the Beaver Dam south of Butte. I don’t mind saying exactly where it is. I’ve enjoyed my time on these rivers, but they don’t belong to me.”
As for me, I think of what my dad would say. We’ve spent countless hours bouncing worms off the bottom of fast moving waters, hiking into pristine mountain lakes and watched countless sunrises and sunsets while pulling fish out of the water and sticking them in the cooler.
His favorite place is Upper Rumble Lake. It’s a steep climb to get there, but the scaly pay-off is worth the sore legs and blistered feet. Some of my best memories go back to when my dad and I hiked in there. I would be selfish to keep the knowledge of that location to myself.
Montana is truly a fisherman’s paradise. As long as the sportsman knows how to fish through all seasons, the potential for finding a new secret spot at any time of the year is all but limitless.