When you come to a fork in the river, take it.
A word of advice. If you ever get invited to go on a fishing trip of a lifetime time, do what you can to make it happen. I recently was invited to float the infamous Smith River in Montana. It was a squeeze for me to make it, but I knew I could not pass up this opportunity. To afford the flights I went to Craigslist to see what I could get rid of. After a few weeks, and a less crowded closest, I had sold enough to afford the flights. The rest would go down in history.
The trip begins with an over night stay at Camp Baker along with other eager anglers ready to get onto the water in the morning. Each day, Montana State Parks allow nine permits to float the river. This means that only 20-30 boats leave the launch each morning. Getting a permit is a whole differnt story.
After an hour of packing the boats we were finally on the water and fishing. Between eight of us, there were three boats. Since my friend Will and I were happy to take the gear boat we quickly turned it into a fish catching machine. We converted the storage containers to a nice casting platform. We made due without an anchor by learning to ram the boat ashore when we wanted to fish a certain run.
The best part of having five days on a river is that you can take your time fishing. We first stopped at Rock Creek and quickly found some eager Browns to take large stone fly nymphs. Lots of fish moved up into some of the smaller creeks because of the high murky water, due to heavy rain.
After catching a few nymphing, I switched to a dry fly. The trout were happy to take the small flies I was throwing. I ended up catching over 10 in the small Rock Creek that fed into the Smith River. Catching plenty of trout on nymphs and drys we had to the only thing left: steamers.
Like they say, "go big or go home". So, my good friend Will Kelly tied on a big black streamer and stared swinging for the fences. It was not long before he hooked into a big brown that was happy to show off its meal hanging from his lip. This was very exciting knowing that these fish would eat just about anything that we would throw at them.
Besides the excellent fishing, the views were amazing. We quickly realized why they had to limit the number of boats that were allowed to launch each day. If not, everyone and their neighbor would be at the Smith River.
Some pictographs can been seen from the river about 12 feet up from the river. These are just of a few things that make the Smith River such a magical place.
After 5 days we had hucked plenty of bugs. Ended up with some nice Teva tans. The views were like the pictures you see in magazines; plus we caught dozens of fish, all of which were released safely. I can't wait for my next opportunity to go on a trip like this.
- Lance Lynch