Seasons Greeting from Wapiti Waters in Montana’s Big Sky Country
As we reflect on this past year, we appreciate the gain from our toils and rejoice in the memories of families and angling friends.
Another season has come and gone for Wapiti Waters. Hopefully this winter, we will be partaking in our usual cold month recreational endeavors. Unfortunately the snow hasn’t hit this part of Montana yet. After a reasonably successful hunting season, Merle and I are still hiking around the hills for exercise and “light therapy” rather than skiing. Our immediate focus is keeping the house warm, and sharing our reflections, thanks and hopes with you in this letter. Read on for a recap of our most successful guide season ever.
The 2009 guide season kicked off in mid-March with mild weather, good dry fly fishing and some happy anglers. By the end of March we had icy guides in our rods as an arctic blast descended. Unbelievable as it may seem the Skwalla dry fly fishing was pretty good despite temperatures hovering near 32 degrees. The native cutthroats are incredibly hardy fish. Grilled “brats” and hot soup was the mainstay for lunch.
The rest of spring was fair fishing with flows a little too high at times. 2009 had a huge snow pack and the threat of flooding was imminent. After one big surge in late May, an orderly run off ensued; this prevented a natural disaster. By June 9th we were fishing the Big Hole and Bitterroot forks. From then on Wapiti Waters was busy throughout the summer and into fall. With Merle on bookkeeping, lunches, website and emails, I could focus on my outfitting and guiding. Without the weekly and late Tuesday nights at the Top Hat, I was still able to play parties and weddings with the band and enjoy my music through the guide season.
Highlights from 2009:
Clark Fork is coming back quickly from the Milltown project. Insect hatches that have been suppressed in previous years are showing up again which has stimulated nice angling in certain sections.
The Big Hole had exceptional flows and terrific fishing throughout the season. What a joy to be on this river in August floating and wading in some of the finest trout water in North America.
A hot, sunny September to remember made for some very technical angling. After a predictably good morning trico spinner fall we would take a little time to do some invasive species management. We searched and found northern pike lairs and were modestly successful at pulling some out. What a thrill to see them pursue the fly, strike it and playing that size of a fish. It is a nice change of pace and 180 degrees from trico fishing. For the Pike, we used a 9 weight fly rod and a 2 “aught” air resistant streamer instead of the 4 and 5 weights with a size 20 dry. Now that is variety.
Another arctic freeze-out in early October disrupted an unusually good month of fishing. Fall colors were a gloomy grey green. It was still beautiful to be out but we felt we got cheated without the vibrant yellow and oranges that our stream corridors normally exhibit. We know we can’t always have it the way we want it and we especially appreciated the nice BWO and mahogany dun hatches.
First, we want to thank those who fished with Wapiti Waters in 2009 and wish you all Happy Holiday and a prosperous New Year in 2010 and second (and as important) all the great guides who worked with us.