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Fishing In Paradise

As the sign says “Welcome To Paradise”.  To me, the seventy-five mile drive between St. Regis Montana and my cousin’s cabin on Noxon Reservoir is my idea of what paradise has to be like.

The Clark Fork River close to Paradise MT

The first week in May, I joined Scott Anderson, a fly-fishing outfitter friend, for a day of fishing. I was looking forward to one of my favorite drifts along the lower Clark Fork. The spring run-off however, had the river still too muddy and high to drift, so Scott took me instead, for wade fishing on the Thompson River.  This river has very little pressure from fishers and very few homes as it runs mostly through forest service land.

It never fails when wade fishing  rivers, that all the fish are hold-up on the other side in a difficult to cross stretch.  Problem solved here on the  Thompson, as an old highway winds along one side of the river, and a forest service access road on the other.

Thompson River

This was my first trip to the Thompson River.  This beautiful little river reminded me of Rock Creek East of Missoula.  The water was running high and slightly brown as it entered the Clark Fork, yet became clearer the farther up river we drove.  Scott had fished the Thompson before, and told me it held large Rainbows and Browns, with the average Rainbows measuring between fifteen and twenty inches.

Chile Headz! river lunch

I brought one of my “Northwest Meets Southwest” gourmet lunches along and before fishing, we set up a river lunch to enjoy the mid day sun.  Homemade salsa and chips, Montana red wheat rolls, wild salmon salad made with sweet bell peppers mixed with Chile Headz! pineapple jalapeno tartar sauce. I also brought some salsa aspics I made in little glad cups,with hard boiled eggs in the center, topped with cilantro sour cream. for dessert, there were fresh honey dew and pear slices with pear and cilantro vinaigrette for dipping, along with my toasted coconut and red chile flake cookie bars.

After a leasurly lunch, we fished a couple of holes with nymphs and droppers.  Scott let me try out his custom made bamboo rod.  This rod has an entirely different feel when the line shoots through than any rod I have cast with.  Maybe someday I will own one…sigh.

The river bank had very few clear areas.  Other than this first stop, dense trees and bushes did not allow for back-casting. This forced me on the next hole, with some pointers from Scott, to work on my roll cast using a caddis and dropper.

At a beautiful spot in the late afternoon, I was kneeling down to switch out my fly and through the branches, I saw the perfect shot.  The late afternoon sun lit up the wings of a spring hatch surrounding Scott  like fire flies. Scott’s golden lab lay with his head on his paws looking bored with the whole thing.  Scott is usually the one in back of the camera, so he was delighted when I showed him the series of “a guy and his dog fishing”  photographs.

Switching to dries, we were able to hook a few nice 18″ Rainbows. It was a spot next to a rock outcropping, where a big uprooted tree had created a pool with what appeared to be at least a half dozen large trout rising.

Rainbows are my favorite trout to catch.  They have more fight in them, and will often jump out of the water more than once trying to dislodge the hook. The Rainbows this day were still spawning. The first Rainbow hooked, had the most amazing bright crimson blush along his sides and gills.

The next day, I drove alone back up  to the same honey-hole on the Thompson where Scott and I got into the big bows. I learned to fish on dries.  I will try dries first if there is a hatch going on, even if I do not see fish rising.  I tried four different patterns without success.  I was just going to give up and put on a nymph, when I remembered Scott showing me a March Brown fly he caught as it flew in the truck window the day before.  The closest fly I had with me was a parachute Adams.  I put it on and had a nice Rainbow on with the third cast.

What a great way to start off what is going to be a great summer back fishing my favorite Northwestern Montana rivers.

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