|Justin's rear view shot|
50-ish miles later we had dropped a car at the take-out for shuttling and were launching at the top of our 9 mile run. Crutches were stowed like spare rods alongside the net.
|First fish of the trip for Justin|
|crutch stretch break on a back channel|
|First "twenty" of the day|
We may have picked up a hit or two as we went along, but the next real action came when we maneuvered between some islands and found a great pocket of water hidden from the main river. It was a couple acres in size with woody debris exposed in the middle and around the perimeter. Current hugged the edge and flushed through, making the entire area viable habitat.
It readily gave up a few rainbows and Justin landed his first Montana trout.
I found our first brown to break 20 inches for the day.
|the 22-inch brown|
Even what we didn't connect with was large. Justin once had a brown head-and-shoulders bigger than anything we'd landed that day come chasing across a shallow shoal. It looked like a redfish charging a topwater over an oyster reef. Made my heart stop to see it. How he didn't hook up with it I don't know. I think he'd been rubbernecking at the scenery and didn't see the fish at first. It even came back for a another try when he quickly served it a second cast.
Some time later I watched Travis hookset into an immovable fish. It bulldogged a couple times with long, wide throbs and then surged into a run like a steelhead that had suddenly decided to return to the ocean - and popped free.
|mid river seam|
The first and heftier of the two was in a classic seam where two currents melded together on the tail-end of an exposed gravel bar. He came out into the perfect evening light for a photo against the backdrop of mountains.
The second came from a shallow little pocket along the bank that looked more like a rearing pond for water striders than the haunts of a mature trout. But there was something about it that made me cast to it. He blasted the surface and tail-walked across the shallows and out into some depth where he could do battle in style.
|shallow pocket dweller|
I'm sure there's more winter yet to go, but after a day like that, I say bring on spring!
|Stealthcraft headlights at work|