After having a rough night on the Madison in Ennis last night, I was out for revenge this morning. I woke up at 5:30 and was on the river by 6:00. It was still dark but I began to fish. I knew the fish were going to be a lot more active than last night because the water temps had cooled off. I decided to stick to the same stretch of stream and I began to fish my way down to the seam where I hooked up with a few nice fish last night. By the time I got down to the seam the sun was beginning to rise and I could now see a lot better. I decided to stick with nymphing again because there wasn't anything hatching yet. On the second drift I hooked into a really nice fish. One thing that has impressed me is the shear power of these fish compared to eastern fish. After a couple beautiful jumps and about a 5 minute fight the fish let up and I beached the fish in some shallow water. It was a beautiful rainbow of about 16 inches and it was a great way to start the day. I released the fish and headed back to the seam. A few more drifts and I was hooked up again with very large fish. This one went nuts and almost took me into my backing. I gave chase and led the fish to some slack water. The fish didn't show itself and I knew it was a whitefish. I quickly released it and headed back again. A few more drifts and I was hooked up yet again! The seam was just perfect. Again the fish did not show itself which led me to believe it was another whitefish (I'm really starting to hate them). However the fish was very sporadic and as I led the fish into the slack water I realized it was actually a really nice Brown. After about a 15 minute fight (he was a strong one), I beached the fish. It was a beautiful brown and a fat one at that. I estimated the fish to be around 18 inches.
A healthy Madison brown.
After getting some nice pics I released him to fight another day.
After a great next couple hours I had a total of 7 browns, 3 rainbows and 3 whitefish. It was a great morning and I was happy that I landed one very decent trout. After calling it a morning I headed back to the hotel where we packed up to head to the University of Montana. Before heading out I stopped at the Madison River Fly Fishing Company and got a brand new pair of Simms Freestone waders. They were affordable and I needed a new pair because the seams on my old pair were tearing.
Later on that afternoon, after unpacking a lot of my stuff and putting it into my dorm room, I decided to walk up the Clary Fork River, which is only 354 meters away from my residence hall (yes I measured exactly). The river splits near the campus and I followed the slower closer braid. A small bridge over the braid gave me a birds eye view of the river bottom. I was not surprised to count more than 20 trout swaying in the current, ranging from 5 inches to around 20. At that moment I realized I was in fly fishing heaven. I headed out just before dark and I stuck with nymphing because I was going to fish a big drop off upstream of the campus. It seemed like I was still rusty because within an hour I had only managed to land 1 whitefish and lost 3 other fish that were of decent size. To top it all off, when fishing a slow seam near the bank just before calling it quits I had a massive strike when my nymphs were directly downstream of me. The fish hit so hard that it snapped my nymph off immediately. It was a bad way to end the night. It was a good day though and nymphing really produced. A lot of the fish today hit a relatively new pattern of mine I call the red assassin nymph. The fish really seemed to key in on the color red today.
I' am so happy to finally be at my new home the University of Montana. Fishing today showed me that I still have about a million fish to catch in the next 4 years and that I can't be disappointed just because of a few lost fish. Overall it was still a great day and I'll start tomorrow morning the same way I started this morning..... Looking for redemption.