Outdoor Writers Association of America
Northwest Outdoor Writers Association
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

The Ladyfisher

August 3rd, 1998

On The Road, Observations

This has been a great trip. We have met and fished with some great folks. Fishing has been great - while the catching has been less than expected. Jeff Fields, one of our Chat Room Hosts is a great companion with a fine sense of humor. And yes, he caught fish!

A highlight for JC and I was fishing with Mike and his two sons. Mike and his older son Aaron were former students of our casting school. The younger son John, only 11 is a tenacious, patient, enthusastic fly fisher. His willingness to be taught and to put what he was learning into practice was great fun to watch. Aaron has become a good caster. Given a few more healthy fish to cast to, he will be pushing his dad. That's what fly fishing used to be - a family passing on knowledge, skills and appreciation of the out-of-doors.

Aaron and Nice Cutthroat

In all fairness, we did see two or three other dads fishing with kids. One I particularily enjoyed was sitting on dad's shoulders casting a pretty fair line. And at Buffalo Ford, another dad and daughter. Good for you dads! Those are memories you will have forever.

We played tourist and did not fish yesterday. We chased down to Island Park to see if we could find one of our friends from the Chat Room. We found his rig, but missed him since he was out fishing with friends. Well gee, on Henry's Fork, who would expect.

Henry's Fork of the Snake

It has been some twenty years since we have been down in the Island Park region. But as long as we were there, we took a little side jaunt to see the beginning of Henry's Fork.

Big Springs The picture at the right is Big Springs, which really is the headwater of Henry's Fork. Compare the one above to see what really happens from small beginnings. The huge rainbows, 7 - to 12 pounds, in the spring are protected,and tourists feed them pellets from a machine on the bridge or chunks of bread. No fishing, wading or swimming is allowed in the spring.

Rainbows at Big Springs
From Big Spring we headed for Bozeman. What a nice town Bozeman has become. Home of Montana State College, it is clean, bright, loaded with new homes and looks like the picture of prosperity. The road from West Yellowstone to Bozeman runs next to the Gallatin River. The Gallatin has a variety of water to fit anyones requirements. From meadow glides to rock strewn falls, plunges and riffles. It was unfortunatly very off color due to the deluge of the three prior days rain. But that didn't seem to discourage the large number of fly anglers, at least in the upper calmer stretches.

Midway down the Gallatin Valley is a fly shop. We rarely miss an opportunity to see any fly shop, so of course we stopped in. Looking through the merchandise I saw some shirts with an embroidered logo to the effect that it was for a women's group.

Asking the young gal at the counter what it was, she explained there is a women's group headquartered at the shop, and they get together and fish a couple of times a year. I asked why. Mistake.

A young man immediately informed me the owner of the shop was a woman, and that women are just more "comfortable" fishing with other women. JC decided about then to take a walk out the side door, I muttered something under my breath and also left.

Livingston Montana was almost a shock. We were appauled on the condition of the town three years ago when we were there. Gambling is legal in Montana, and it is everywhere in Livington. After being in and out of West Yellowstone for the past week, we were used to seeing cars and folks walking around town, in shops and resturants - a very healthy, lively scene. In fact, 'West' as the locals call it, may be on the edge of overgrowth. Lots of new hotels, motels,- everything. People standing in line to get into one of the popular breakfast places.

Livingston may have succeeded in living down to it's local nickname 'Deadrock'. We saw two vehicles on the main street, and those were motorcycles. Things do not look healthy there. We stopped in to visit with old friend Tommy Travis at the Master Angler. We have always considered the Master Angler the finest shop in Livingston. His wife Krysal was there, Tommy was out guiding. There was not a customer in the shop. This of course was in direct contrast to the half dozen or so fly shops in 'West' all of which seem to be doing a brisk business.

Those who followed the Sunday evening Tying Chat with Mat Lyon will be glad to know he is working at the Master Angler. We did have a chance to meet him, and hope he will find a more permanent home in the fall. Another one of the Chat Room guys, Cutthroat is also working at the Master Angler. It is a small world, especially the fly fishing world. You just never know who you might run into.

The road from Livingston South to Yellowstone National Park is through some spectatular country. Paradise Valley is well named. The Gallatin Mountain Range to the right, the Yellowstone River flowing through the center and the Absaroka Mountains on the left engulf the traveler. Someone once told me the Absaroka's looked like their mountains at home in Switzerland. Pretty spectatular with the evening sunset reflecting back...alpine glow.

Gardiner Montanta is the official North Gate for YNP. The 'old town' main street is unchanged with the exception of a couple new eateries. But again, much new construction. New hotels, and lots of people. Good to see. Montana is a tough place to earn a living. Glad that the tourists are are helping keep Montana green.

Our final leg to the day trip was very dark, and included a drive through the Park back to West. A bit of an adventure! Few cars are on the road at night in the park, and the expectation is of a moose or elk walking out in front of your vehicle at any time. Luckily we only saw one deer. Still a bit tense. Neither of us dared blink an eye.

Just have to mention one of the oldest places in West. Some 50 years in business on the main street, the Totem has the best piece of beef I have had in years. We ate late, almost 10:00, they gladly served us, even though the kitchen closes at 10:00 pm, and the Petite Fillet we both had was done exactly as ordered and could be cut with a fork. Rolls that were hot, small but very adequate salad bar, and for me, mashed potatoes served in a small bowl. Snowy white peering up out of a pool of real, hot, brown gravy. (You just can't keep this stuff up on cheeze and crackers.) If you are in the region, do stop by the Totem!

Our next stop is Rock Creek where our friends tell us it's 80% brown trout, averaging 18- to- 20 inches. Looking' forward to that! By the way, Doug and Carolyn Persico are the owners of the Rock Creek Fisherman's Merchantile and Motel and the Fly of the Week this week is one of Doug's flies.

One more evening to fish in the Park, stay tuned!

~Deanna Birkholm

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