Archive for the ‘Rainbow Trout’ Tag

The Gallatin River, Big Sky, Montana   4 comments

You may have heard of the Gallatin River. No? When you watch Brad Pitt in “A River Runs Through It”, the Gallatin is that river.

My dad, Wes Anderson, has taken me to his (and my) favorite skiing destination, Big Sky, Montana (thanks Dad!), where I’ve had the opportunity to fulfill two of my lifelong dreams.

Dad and me on the "Ram Charger" Lift at Big Sky, Montana

Dad and me on the "Ram Charger" Lift at Big Sky, Montana

The first is a run from the top of Lone Peak down an area called “The Gullies”. See the thrilling video below for a recap of that adventure. It was a blast!

Lone Peak at Big Sky.

Lone Peak at Big Sky.

The second life-long dream fulfilled, as you may have guessed, is fly fishing for Rainbow Trout on the Gallatin River. Since my first trip to Big Sky in 1985, when my mom pointed out the window of the bus at the Gallatin and said “people fish for trout there”, I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of fishing a wild western river. Today, with the weather being not so great for skiing, and Dad’s legs (and my knee) complaining about a third straight day of abuse on the ski hill, I took the opportunity to hit the river.

The Gallatin River near Big Sky, Montana

The Gallatin River near Big Sky, Montana

I spoke with the fellows at East Slope Outdoors about where to fish, what to use, and how to fish the river. I got some great advice and a few “local specialty” flies and headed out to chase rainbows. The river is a classic Western freestone river full of fish. Nymphing was the name of the game, since it was too early in the season for hatches. I’d love to come back when the hatches are on because it would be so cool to watch those fish rise up and sip flies. But, as timing would have it, I was going to be nymphing.

There were signs of wildlife everywhere along the river, mostly in the form of carcasses and droppings. Hunks of deer hide and hair, bird feathers, bones, and large hoof and paw tracks were everywhere. It goes to show how important wild rivers are to mountain wildlife. The Gallatin flows out of Yellowstone and north toward the fabled Missouri River. It is most certainly a thoroughfare for wildlife in the northern Rockies.

Gallatin River, Montana

Gallatin River, Montana

Gallatin River Rainbow, Montana

Gallatin River Rainbow, Montana

In all I brought four fish to hand, all of them wild and beautiful. Of course, there’s a story of the one that got away. I was standing on a spit of land separating the river from a tributary, doing some short-line nymphing into a cut-bank run. After several empty-handed drifts I brought the rod up to flip the fly back upstream for another drift, when I felt resistance on the end of the line. The rod tip shook and dove, and I looked down into the current and saw what, to my eye, was a fish twice as big as any I’d landed. It must have been a twenty-incher. A few violent head shakes and back down it went, but my fly did not go with. He had spit the fly and left me haunted thinking about what might have been.

A pretty feeder creek on the Gallatin River, Montana

A pretty feeder creek on the Gallatin River, Montana

I had a wonderful afternoon on a river I’ve dreamed of fishing for many years. To finally step into it with a fishing rod, to get to know it just a little bit, was a day I won’t soon forget.

A River Runs Through It, The Gallatin River, Montana

A River Runs Through It, The Gallatin River, Montana