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The Simms Shoot Out 2013, our first big splash into mainstream fly fishing media.  The film titled “BENT” won the award that year and our friendship with Dan “Rooster” Leavens was just beginning.  If you haven’t watched it do yourself and get acquainted with Dave Priebus’ client phone call and Rooster’s prowess with a fly rod.

With $2,000 in cash we quickly re-invested in camera equipment and kept making fishing films.

Good times and a reminder that Rooster is a short dude haha!

It wasn’t but a few months later and Rooster called me and said “Get your butt over here with your camera, the salmonfly hatch is stupid good!” Fortunately I believed him and a couple days later I’d witnessed the best of the salmonfly hatch and laid down some amazing footage that would soon become Bearback Rider.

A few more years went by and we talked about making films but it always fell through either from a schedule or funding standpoint.  Finally, Rooster wanted to follow up with our first film and make BENT 2.  I was all in and a few phone calls later and it was on the books.  This would be a short two day film shoot and we hoped the magic would still be there.  Dave Priebus showed up in fine form and as always the fishing in SW Montana never disappoints.

We hope you enjoyed the film.  If you ever want to book an awesome guided trip in Montana definitely give Rooster and the fine folks at The Stonefly Inn a call (406-684-5648).  A special thanks to the great folks at Hatch Outdoors and Simms Fishing for their support of the project!

Zack Boughton

Our latest fly fishing film, SUMMER HYPE showcases some epic salmonfly fishing, big fish, savage eats, and good times on the water.  Shot by our most recent summer intern Bryant Patterson, this short film captured a few great days on the water.  Pull up a seat, sit back and enjoy SUMMER HYPE!

Shop our hats used in the film, by clicking on the images below.

summer hype, summer, fishing, fly fishing, brown trout, salmonfly, hatchsummer hype, montana wild, hat, apparel

internship, outdoor, photography, film, video

Are you a young, motivated individual who is passionate about the outdoors, and filmmaking & photography? Are you looking for an internship to develop those skills? If so, look no further. Montana Wild is looking for interns for 2017, and you could be one of them. Follow along as I take you through my summer as an intern for the guys at Montana Wild!

montana wild, internship, hunting, fishing, photo, video

Taking a break from running the camera and throwing a salmonfly sure isn’t a bad gig.

As I approached my final summer as a college student at the University of Montana, I knew that I wanted to stay in Montana for the summer and work somewhere that’s directly related to media arts, which is what I’m studying in school. Shortly after making this decision, I saw a post on Montana Wild’s Facebook page that they were hiring, and also had internship positions available. From there I got ahold of Zack and Travis Boughton, and sent them my cover letter, resume, and portfolio. Shortly thereafter, I met up with the guys to talk about being an intern, and the next thing I knew, I had landed myself the sickest summer job around. I was stoked!

montana wild, internship, fishing, photo, video, smith river

Snapping photos, rowing, fishing, and camping on Montana’s Smith River.

What I didn’t know going into this internship was how many awesome places I was going to go while working. The major highlight of my internship for me was floating the Smith River and seeing first hand how important of a resource it is for Montana. Not only was it an awesome place to experience, but over the course of the trip I was able to shoot a wide variety of photos, and get to use some new gear for the first time. It gave me time to try new things, and ask questions that greatly improved my photography as a whole, but specifically fishing related photography and astrophotography. During that trip I also was able to see firsthand how the guys at Montana Wild work on a production. Being able work side-by-side with Zack and Travis helped shorten my learning curve greatly.

montana wild, internship, spring, summer, fishing, hunting, photo, video

Camping while on the job.

I also went on trips shed hunting, bear hunting, and a few days of salmonfly fishing/filming in SW Montana, where I was able to gain experience shooting on a cinema camera for the first time. Running a professional grade film camera allowed me to get a closer look at all the settings available to the filmmaker but also what it takes to make these cameras really shine. When you make that step up inherently you are going to make mistakes and being able to have a focused yet fun setting to make those mistakes was a great way to learn. After the shoot I had the opportunity to edit all my footage and work with high quality slow motion video for the first time as well. Aside from shooting and editing content in the field, as an intern for Montana wild you will learn the ins and outs of social media, advertising, brand and social promotions, and what it takes to run a successful brand and social media platform.

montana wild, fishing, internship, filming, summer

Running the Sony FS7 while Zack navigates some whitewater.

montana wild, internship, film, photography, outdoors, hunting

Chase packs out during a spring bear hunt.

Over the course of my internship I had the opportunity to work on a wide range of daily tasks that took me to some pretty incredible places. Daily tasks included the following:

  • Creating and scheduling daily social media posts
  • Creating focused, branded content packages for social media
  • Brainstormed photo/video content ideas
  • Shooting photo/video content
  • Editing photo/video content with Adobe programs
  • Coming up with blog post ideas. Writing blog posts
Montana Wild Internship

Developing skillsets, one click at a time.

If you are looking to become an intern for Montana Wild in the future, you should have some experience or be proficient with Adobe software. Specifically Lightroom, Photoshop, and Premiere. Having a strong grasp of the basics is a necessity of the internship but will really allow you absorb much more during your internship. The more you already know the better, but that brings me to my next point.

By now you’re probably wondering, “So what am I going to get out of this internship?” other than a summer full of stoke, brown trout, camera gear and laughs. The answer is A LOT. Over the course of my internship I was able to improve my skills across the board from shooting photos and video, to editing said shots in Premiere, Lightroom, and Photoshop. When it came to shooting content, my technical skills improved drastically when it was time to set up gear, or quickly getting camera settings to desired levels to capture a shot. The more you do it, the easier it gets, and knowing how to use your gear to its fullest extent will greatly improve the content that you end up with. Subsequently, the content that I was shooting greatly improved as the summer went on. This was partially due to being out and shooting more frequently, but also because I had a resource to bring my work back to and be critiqued. Seems like a solid gig so far doesn’t it? Well it gets better yet. If you’re a college student, you more than likely will be able to receive credits towards graduation for your work over the course of the summer. In my case, I was able to get 6 credits, which meant less class and more time in the mountains come September!

montana wild, internship, hunting, film, photo

Spending time in the mountains with the guys meant more knowledge gained about cameras but also about hunting and backpacking.

Interested in working in the hunting and fishing media industry as a career? Not to worry, as an intern for Montana Wild not only will you build skills that will help you succeed in the future, but you will also have the chance to make connections by learning the ropes and insider tips from Zack and Travis. This will also allow you to meet other like minded people in the industry, and in today’s world, being talented at what you do, having job experience, and knowing the right people will get you far. Like what you see? If so send the guys at Montana Wild an email to info@montana-wild.com with the SUBJECT line: Montana Wild Internship.  Be sure to send a resume, cover letter and a portfolio of any photo/video work you’ve done.  Good luck!

Written by Calvin Connor

It’s now August and most bucks have put on about as much antler growth as they’ll get before shedding their velvet.  With season starting soon this is a good time to get in a few quality days of mule deer scouting in hopes that your season will be a success.  With that said, scouting for mule deer in the high country can be a daunting task if you aren’t sure where to start. Ever wonder where you can learn about the necessities of backpack scouting? Below we’ll take you through some of the process so your next trip into the mountains is time well spent.

mule deer, scouting, mountains, high country, summer, mule deer scouting

Your first order of business should be deciding where you want to go. Mule deer have a wide range of habitats ranging from sage flats, to high mountain peaks above tree line. Depending on your physical ability, and willingness to hike, you’ll have a wide range of options to chose from in Montana and many other western states. I personally like to scout in more remote locations and at higher elevation. If you are willing to do the hiking it takes to get into the backcountry, you’ll eliminate many of the struggles that people sticking closer to roads and town will have due to human pressure on the animals.

scouting, maps, montana, mule deer, mule deer scouting

When preparing to scout the high country, I try to look for a few key things that will be essential for deer to live there. Food, water, and cover are the main three, but other things come into play as well. When looking over country on Google Earth, it can be hard to figure out where all of these necessities are located, but if you pay attention to detail, you will be much more successful at finding deer. For instance, much of the high country in western Montana is rocky and rugged. This means that in an area that’s super rocky, you’re going to want to look for grassy meadows in bowls, basins, and on top of ridgelines for food sources. Another great food source for high country bucks are burns. Burns provide regrowth, and abundant amounts of food for deer and elk to feed on in the summer months, but can make glassing much harder, and make the animals much less predictable due to the abundance and wide range of feeding locations. When looking at a spot on google earth, I always try to think about: “Where are they going to eat, how are they getting there, and what are they eating?”

montana, mule deer, scouting, wildlife

When scouting high country mule deer, you will want to have a very select list of gear in your arsenal, and know how to use it well if you plan on being successful at finding that giant velvet buck you’ve been dreaming about. When packing for a trip, I try to keep three important things in mind: space, weight, and durability. You’ll want to make sure you have everything you need, while eliminating items that you don’t think will be necessary. As a general rule, I tell myself that If I’m not going to use something three or more times on a trip, then it’s not going in my pack. This obviously excludes necessities like first aid kits, bear spray, and emergency survival gear, but you get the point. Below is a list of some of the items that always come with me into the backcountry, that are easy to find in different weights and sizes depending on how much money you are looking to spend.

  1. One or two person lightweight tent (I prefer a two-man tent to keep myself and my gear dry in the event of a storm.)
  2. Lightweight packable sleeping pad
  3. Sleeping bag & compression sack
  4. Water purification pump
  5. First Aid kit
  6. Bear Spray or a side arm
  7. Mountaineering boots (Although not a necessity, a stiff boot with added support will make your hikes and time scouting much more enjoyable, avoiding unnecessary foot fatigue.)
  8. Binoculars
  9. Spotting scope
  10. Lightweight compact tripod
  11. Freeze dried food items (Mountain house, Backpacker’s Pantry, etc.)
  12. Snacks ( anything from Cliff Bars to trail mix/jerky to a bag of M&M’s. You will want to bring something to snack on while glassing / have a way of getting some calories in you without stopping to make a Mountain House)
  13. Eating utensils
  14. A 100 Ounce water bladder or a couple one liter Nalgene bottles.

Now that we’ve gone over what gear to bring on your trip, it’s time to discuss packing your pack. Ideally, you are going to want to have a good sized pack that can easily hold all of your gear. I like to keep in mind when packing my pack that if it were hunting season, I may need more room on the way out in the event that you do harvest a buck. When putting your gear in your pack you will want to make sure you are distributing weight evenly, and that you aren’t putting the important things that you may need to access quickly at the bottom of your pack. I know it sounds like a no brainer, but the last thing you want is to be desperately digging around for your spotting scope as a stud buck is heading for the timber off in the distance.

scouting, summer, deer, montana

A couple of weeks ago I went scouting in Southwest Montana, and it was an eye opening experience for me, in the sense that I had no idea how big the country was going to be. This was my first time scoutng in that specific spot, and had an awesome experience. Over the course of the two days we spent in the backcountry, we spent time scouting between 6,500 – 8500’ and were able to locate a good number of bucks, in a wide range of locations. On the first day we packed in at dark hoping to reach a solid glassing point by daybreak. After reaching where we had planned to start glassing, I quickly realized that the country we were in was much larger than I had imagined. As the day went on we covered more country, locating multiple water sources and stopping at a few more good vantage points to glass, but only located a few deer. After a midday nap, followed by hunkering down in a hailstorm, we moved to the next ridge and sat down to glass.

mule deer, scouting, montana, high country, burn, mule deer scouting

It wasn’t long, and Zack had spotted a group of bucks bedded down. As the evening went on, we worked our way around the bowl, glassing it from multiple vantage points, and turning up more and more deer. A lot of times the key in scouting the high country is finding the pockets where the deer like to frequent. Many times when you find one group of deer in a basin, there will be many more as well.

montana, summer, deer, hiking, camping

The following week, I headed into another promising backcountry area with a good friend in hopes of locating more bucks and bulls before the fast approaching season. After my experience the week before, I knew going into it that the country was going to be much larger than it looked on Google Earth, so I planned accordingly bringing extra food and water for the hike in. After a six mile hike, we set up camp and glassed the last hour of the evening, turning up one small buck. As the next morning rolled around, we got up and glassed the first couple of hours on the other side of camp from where we had glassed the night before. Just as I was about to move to a new spot, I found a group of bucks feeding through the bottom of a basin surrounded by cliffs and shale slides on all sides. Although none of the bucks were shooters, it was nice to know that I was finding deer in areas where I had predicted they would be because of readily available food.

montana, hiking, scouting, hunting, summer

Over the course of the day we hiked an 8 mile loop up to one of the surrounding peaks, and back. This gave us the opportunity to spend the middle of the day checking out new country, and glassing occasionally in spots that looked like they would have the best chance of holding animals. We didn’t turn up any more bucks that day, but it was an awesome way to see the country first hand, and get an idea of what areas we needed to focus on come September. As we got back to camp and built a fire, the wind picked up, and the temperature began to drop as a storm rolled in. Although this was a less than ideal situation, we came prepared, and were able to layer up and hunker down for the night while the storm passed.

Camp

The next morning, we decided to glass a new spot closer to camp, and to our surprise, turned up three more bucks, but again no shooters. That afternoon, we packed up camp, and began our hike back to the truck. About half way into the hike, we came across a ton of bear sign. This was no surprise to us, and if you plan on hunting and scouting in the high country, and wilderness areas in particular, then you’d better be ready to encounter bears. This isn’t something that should scare you, or deter you from going into these areas, but it is something to be aware of and prepare for.

flat tire, montana, nighttime

Whether you are on the drive into the trailhead, or ten miles from the truck, I can’t stress enough how important it is to be prepared for any situation. My final piece of advice would be to double check everything from your tire repair kit in your truck, to your first aid kit in your pack before you leave, because you never know what can happen out there. Luckily, if you come prepared, you can keep a little problem at bay and fix it before it becomes much more serious. Do your research, pack smart, come prepared, scout hard, and have an awesome time doing it.

Written By: Calvin Connor

Edited By: Zack Boughton

Photos: Travis Boughton, Zack Boughton, Calvin Connor

mountain goat, scouting, hunting, blog post, draw, tag, permit, montana

I guess I just figured I’d never get lucky drawing a Big 3 tag without a lifetime of points.  When I logged into MyFWP to check my status I stared blankly at the screen seeing a 2016 Goat License under the Successful category.  Travis was home and I quickly told him that I drew a goat tag.  He didn’t believe me, but one quick look at my computer brought him to life.  It didn’t seem real and for the next few days it still hadn’t set home that I’d be chasing mountain goats in some of the most rugged country around.  This year I would be able to say I was going mountain goat hunting!

mountain goat, montana, high country, goats, limited draw, tag, hunting

Montana’s high country. Beautiful yet rugged!

Once I started looking over Google Earth and planning my first scouting trip it started to set in.  I quickly realized I needed to get in better shape, learn more about mountain goats, and start making some phone calls.  Over the next few weeks I spent many hours dissecting my unit online and with maps.  A trip to the Forest Service office gave me the right maps that outlined open roads in the area and before I knew it I was packed up and headed for the mountains.

mountain goat, montana, high country, rough road, backcountry, 4x4, offroad

Rocking and rolling our way up to the trailhead.

As soon as we climbed up out of the valley I realized this would be an epic hunt.  Huge basins, rocky ridges, huge cliffs and wild, vast country spread all around.  My legs burned as we climbed to 10,000′ crossing over our first big pass.  It was setting in and soon we had located the first group of goats.  A set of nannies with kids and one billy scrambled through a steep face with huge boulders and loose rock and dirt.  I was quickly reminded they feel at home in some of the gnarliest country around.

mountain goat, montana, high country, wild, scouting

Climb, climb and then climb some more.

At this point I’ve spent four days scouting my unit.  Not a lot by any means but enough to start learning the lay of the country and how to navigate to each zone that holds goats.  With only a handful of days in this unit I’ve definitely learned a few things.

Google Earth Is A Liar!

I knew this but always seem to forget this when I go somewhere new.  That ridgeline you though you could hike across, Nope!  That little knob will be a ten minute hike, try 45 minutes.  If you’ve used Google Earth you know the drill.  Everything looks smaller and easier than it actually is.

mountain goat, montana, high country, scouting, hunting, wild, hiking

Frosted scree makes for an interesting morning hike to the glassing knob.

Grizzlies Abound

Only a few hours into our first day on the mountain and we turned up six grizzlies in the same basin.  A sow and three cubs roamed the head end of a grassy meadow and about a 1000 yards away two juvenile bears fed on grass and wild flowers on a long, flat bench.  Living in Missoula the last 6-7 years meant we only really dealt with black bears.  Grizzlies are on a different level and made things interesting when we decided where to camp just across the ridge.  It’s time we de-list these bears and start managing them like we should be.

grizzly bear, bears, montana, backcountry, wild

Juvenile grizzly bears roaming the vast backcountry.

Glassing Is King

Again we know this but up here it’s very, very apparent.  Perched in the right spot in the country affords you the opportunity to glass a MASSIVE amount of country.  A good pair of binoculars, a spotting scope and a good tripod are must haves.  Finding a spot with little or no wind is key and being able to mount your binos to your tripod makes picking up small details and movements much easier.

mountain goat, montana, high country, scouting, glassing, hunting

Searching and more searching on a brisk July morning.

mountain goat, montana, high country, clouds, scouting

A few miles out a goat appears between passing clouds.

Mtn. Goat Scouting Isn’t Easy

When I first drew the tag I figured it would be real easy to locate most of the goats in my unit.  Get up high and glass the rocky open country and look for white.  We’ll it turns out they are elusive animals most of the time.  Sure sometimes they stick out like a sore thumb but during the summer when it’s hot they often bed in some shaded nook and finding them can be impossible.  They like to dip in and out of timber and if you’re not vigilant on the glass you might miss them when they hit the open areas.  I also found that they seem to move a lot.  Multiple groups have moved thousands of yards in a short period of time and a few groups moved to different basins entirely without being bumped.  Put a dirty goat on a hillside of huge tan and grey boulders and they can blend in with the best of them.

mountain goat, montana, high country, cliffs, rocks, mountain goat hunting

This billy was in a low elevation zone I wouldn’t expect to see a goat. Staying alert and having two sets of eyes paid off here.

mountain goat, montana, high country, phoneskope, video, vortex optics

Getting some photo & video for later review.

Moving In This Country Takes TIME!

With camp on your back travel is slow but add in big, rocky country and it can take some time to move from area-to-area.  With so much country to glass you often find yourself stopping to take a peak into new folds of the mountain and those first trips are a bit rough after a long offseason.  Back here you can’t travel in a straight line.  Sometimes working into a specific basin means you have to loop around multiple miles just to find a route that isn’t cliffed out.  When you do find a route, the vertical is enough to wear you down quick.  2,500’+ climbs are the norm when switching basins without a ridge connecting them.  As it should be, life just happens slower back here.

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Loaded up and putting the test to a new pack, the Kifaru Markhor. So far so good!

mountain goat, montana, high country, summer, scouting, sitka gear, kifaru

Navigating a no-fall zone. Makes for slow going.

So far I’ve seen about 75% of my unit and found a couple billies that I’d be stoked to put my tag on come September.  Right now the plan is to make one more trip back into my unit and then pack the bow in for the opener.  It’s going to come quick and I can’t wait to be out there with the chance to get close and try to seal the deal!

Zack Boughton

summer, fishing, montana

We’re now in the midst of summer and it’s a great time to be outside for most of the country.  Here in Montana its been a great summer so far.  Even though it’s not technically summer we think of June as summer anyways.  That’s when we start getting back out on the water in full force.  It’s a time for salmonflies, early mornings, brown trout, big dries, streamer eats, laughs, roadtrips, sunscreen and lots of great scenery.  This year we got to explore some new water in Southwest Montana and it didn’t fail to impress.  Did we mention summer fishing is tight!?

salmonfly, hatch, montana, bug

June is all about stoneflies!

salmonfly, hatch, montana, bighole, river, maddie, sieler

Maddie with an early morning brown trout caught on a salmonfly.

The salmonfly hatch is one that is no secret here in Montana.  It happens in most of the Western half of the state but at different times.  Trying to chase the hatch and learn what makes the bugs hatch and what makes the fish eat is something that you could spend a lifetime learning.  Whether you know what your doing or not it’s damn fun to watch a fish rise to a bug the size of your pinky!

salmonfly, bugs, hatch, montana, flies

The days menu.

madison, river, montana, fly fishing, salmonfly, sunrise

Early morning on the Madison. Sometimes it pays to be out early and other times it doesn’t.

fly fishing, montana, salmonfly, hatch, wild, madison, river

Travis striking gold on one of the first few days where the fish were looking up.

Once you’ve started throwing the salmonfly around it’s sure hard to put anything else on the end of your line.  Jumping from river to river though means you might be ahead or behind the hatch.  Sometimes you’re early or the fish are just too full to look up that day and things slow down considerably.  When you’ve had enough you tie on a streamer and see what happens, it usually works out to your advantage.

montana, wild, brown trout, streamers, summer

Who says you can’t fish streamers mid-day under the sun?

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Back to running banks with the salmonfly

fly fishing, montana, take-out, driftboats, summer

Don’t expect to have the rivers to yourself this time of year. Still plenty of fish and fun times to be had!

With summer comes our love for the smaller water tucked away in the backcountry of Montana.  It’s where we first developed our love for fly fishing and it seems we always carve out a little time to get back and throw dries to hungry trout.  The scenery isn’t bad either.

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A little work is necessary to navigate some of these waters.

montana, fishing, summer, backcountry, cutthroat, trout

Enjoying the appetite of these native fish and the great places they live!

Even though we had a pretty solid winter, it seems our snowpack has burned off quickly.  Rivers are getting low and Hoot Owl is out on quite a few rivers now.  We generally shift our mindset over to hunting and scouting this time of year, but if you do get to spend some time on the rivers be sure to remember the fish are already worn down with the warming water and low flows.  Be looking for a new film to be dropping here next week!! Also, thanks to all who read and support our content. As a small thank you we will be offering free USA shipping to you through the remainder of July. Just use coupon code: FREESUMMER at checkout!

-Written by Zack Boughton

life, beyond, walls, montana, wild, adipose, boatworks

“I love a ground-dog burrito!” We had just spotted a questionable looking Mexican restaurant and already the stereotypes were being heavily flung around. What would you expect from a truck with 4 dudes and a solid five hours plus rallying I-90?

montana, fishing, trout, mexican, food, burrito

An hour later we emerged, bellies full and hoping that no one would be feeling “spicy” in a few hours. We were in the home stretch and soon enough we’d be looking over the waters of the Bighorn River for the first time. A little over a month earlier we had gotten the call from Smith Optics to shoot a lifestyle film for their latest web series “Life Beyond Walls.” Wanting to keep it within the borders of the Big Sky state yet still get a little road trip in, the Bighorn was an obvious choice. A tailwater with above average flows this year meant it was opposite the rest of the state and hopefully full of aggressive trout. Finally we hit the river and pulled onto the bridge in St. Xavier. The water below us was swollen and running a green/brown color. We all started talking about hooking “slam pigs” and raucously expelled typical bro banter.

Adipose, driftboat, fly, fishing, montana, bighorn, river, brown trout

That evening we cruised into Fort Smith and swung into the Bighorn Angler. Bryen and Shelly were there to greet us and give the lowdown on the fishing. A few dozen flies later and we began to organize and sort fishing gear in anticipation for the morning.

gear, fishing, montana, bighorn, river, montana wild, video, film, smith optics

Morning came early and after a few slight bobbles getting everything loaded up we finally arrived at the boat launch.  We dropped the boats and got ready for a long day on the river.  At the moment we had the place to ourselves, little did we know that in an hour this would be full of twenty different rigs hoping to launch.

driftboat, adipose, bighorn, angler, river, fly fishing, montana, wild, video, smith optics

Soon we pushed off, hanging to the bank and searching the wide featureless water. A slow twenty minutes put us at the first small island and a pit stop was ordered up. Fifty yards upstream multiple fish were chowing down on the morning buffet. Two casts later and two great browns had hit the net.

bighorn, river, fly, fishing, montana, brown, trout, adipose, wild, film, smith optics

bighorn, river, fly, fishing, montana, brown, trout, adipose, wild, film, smith optics

At that point the boat train had engulfed us. Despite the crowds one thing became apparent, we were having a lot more fun than the other boats. Typical to many rivers there was a lack of yelling, laughing and general good times. Weird. Our float continued under hazy skies as we banged streamers into every nook and cranny we could find. Dozens of fish later we hit our takeout and headed back up to sneak in a second short float. Mice were skated, the golden sun sank in the West but no fish stuck. Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin” blared from Lungren’s cell phone as we pulled in under the light hum of a lonely light guarding the Three Mile boat ramp. Day Two was complete.

driftboats, adipose, helena, bighorn, river, montana, trout, fishing

With a good day of fishing under our belts we figured we’d take a risk and give the lower river hell. “Chuck and Duck” was the game plan and flashes and strikes ensued from all the likely spots. A short ways later the line stopped in it’s tracks and a hefty flash gave us a look at the largest fish of the trip. A quick fight ensured there was no chance of him getting away and a plump rainbow laying in the net left the group acting like a bunch of wild monkeys.

bighorn, river, rainbow, trout, montana, wild, fishing, film, smith optics, streamer

Good call boys, good call. Apparently this lower river was the real deal. A few hours later we had changed our tune as things were downright slow. The water had picked up decent color from some of the small feeder creeks and reading the river became much tougher. We embraced the day and enjoyed the great scenery and even better company.

fly, fishing, montana, film, trout, wild, bighorn, river, adipose, driftboat

After lunch we split up and started working a small island. Twenty minutes later a couple goldeyes had been caught. No one in the group had ever caught one before so this was news to us. One came on a dry and another hit a streamer, apparently they were hungry little buggers.

gold, eye, fish, fishing, bighorn, river, montana, dry fly, film, wild

As the float neared its end the roar of a diversion dam pulled everyone back into full attention. Cameras were carefully pulled from the boats and walked downriver. Travis and Sam pushed off and lined up above the man-made rapids. Sam was first and found the right slot, easily pushing through. Travis was up next and despite his best efforts was pulled over into the edge of the main wave formed off the dam. A healthy splash and the skiff cut through the wave and slid downriver.

fishing, montana, bighorn, river, trout, brown, wild, film, smith optics, guides choice, dam

adipose, driftboat, skiff, helena, montana, dam, diversion, river, bighorn, film

We all were beat from another long day under the sun and pulling into the Riverview Lodge was very welcome. Steve had worked some magic and got us the bottom half of some prime real estate. With a great view of the valley and a full kitchen we got dinner on the grill and got some much needed rest for Day Four.

bighorn, river, fishing, lodge, angler, montana, wild, film, brown trout, tailwater

Day Four again saw us boating fish and seeing plenty of new water. Streamer fishing was the choice mid-day as staring down a bobber just didn’t get us too fired up. That evening found us anchored up on a long seam with a long line of noses extending downstream. Hookup after hookup with no boats in sight was the story.

bighorn, river, montana, wild, fly fishing, trout, film, smith optics, guides choice

Fast forward to the takeout. Now I’ve depleted the old Ford’s gas gauge plenty of times but this one was shaping up to be interesting. We had ran our own shuttle and the driving distance between takeouts was further than expected. The gas light had been on for about 30 miles and 20 more remained before we got back to the lodge. It was 11PM when the engine sputtered and the power steering went out. Yes I was a dips#&* and should have put more than $30 in the tank yesterday. We were stranded. Two hours later the Ford had been towed to the nearest fishing access and both boats were safely parked back at the lodge.   The following morning found us back at the truck with a 5 gallon gas can pouring precious fluid back into the fuel hungry beast. We were back in business!

fishing, trip, montana, empty, truck, fishing, bighorn, life beyond walls

This would be our final morning and we figured a quick hammer sesh through the top 3 miles would be just right. A few hundred oar strokes and Travis was into another nice brown. The cameras did their thing and in a flash the brownie was back in the river.

brown, trout, fly, fishing, bighorn, river, montana, wild, film, video, smith optics

It wasn’t long and again we had hit the end of the road. The launch was in sight and the trip was complete. The boats hit the trailers, and we grabbed our stuff and hit the road.

montana, highway, adipose, driftboat, wild, boat, film

As we drove home we relived the past four days. All the ingredients of a great fishing trip had left everyone feeling satisfied. We are excited to share the film with you here tomorrow! Be looking for it to go live  tomorrow August 12th on the Smith Optics website and if you haven’t checked out their other films from the “Life Beyond Walls” Series you should do so! We also had the pleasure of testing out the new “Guide’s Choice” sunglasses which will be available soon.

smith, optics, guides choice, guide, fishing, new, sunglasses, polarized, chormapop

These things are absolute beasts on the water and will definitely make the best days better. Look for them at your local fly shop this fall. Also a big thanks goes out to Steve Galletta and the crew at the Bighorn Angler. Their expertise is unmatched and the lodging they provide for anglers is superb. Check them out next time you hit the Bighorn.

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And last but not least, a special thanks to the awesome crew at Adipose Boatworks. They have a rental boat there at the Bighorn Angler if you want to give one a spin on your next trip.

adipose, boatworks, driftboats, skiff, flow, montana, helena, wild, boat, bighorn, river

-Zack

 

When the salmon flies are out and the big trout are on the prowl life is good.  Our latest film, BAREBACK RIDER documents a few days on the river with our good friends Dan “Rooster” Leavens and Gray Edmiston.  From catching big, jumping browns to the guys eating handfuls of salmonfly nymphs this film has a bit of it all.  Check it out!

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/84742433 w=580&h=440]

For the whole story you can read more here > www.montana-wild.com/the-big-bugs/  and if you want to fish with these guys check them out at www.thestoneflyinn.com

-Zack

After a short hiatus from fishing we decided to jump back into the swing of things on the lower Clark Fork with our friend Trevor who runs flyfishingwest.  The plan was to get a morning float in due to the fact that we needed to work that evening, damn jobs.  We met out at Wheat Montana where I ordered a very tasty cinnamon roll to get things going in the right direction for the day.

cinnamon roll, wheat montana, missoula mt, montana wild

Now I’ve never fished this stretch before, but the word is that streamers usually work best early morning.  Well we didn’t have much success with that.  After getting harassed because I had a “pike” streamer on and working through a few different patterns, we didn’t even succeed in getting a little nibble.  Good thing I still had half of that cinnamon roll to eat.  There was basically zero TOPWATER action.  Apparently this term is for bass fishing only according to Trevor.  We’ll probably use it till we die and soon were resorting to calling our bobbers buoys just to keep things a little edgy.  We tried a variety of flies, I mean lures and got a few small, uneducated fish to eat.  Overall things were pretty slow, and the most excitement came from Trevor yelling at us angry guide style, giving us casting and rowing lessons, and Travis taking a little gel coat off the Clacka.  I pretty much had a grand old time in the back of the boat with the shirt off catching some Vitamin D.  I let Travis and Trevor fight it out for fisherman of the day.  Finally about 300 yards from the takeout Travis had his buoy go under and he set the hook on a nice rainbow.  After some yelling and vigorous rowing we were able to land the small beast before we were swept downstream into some burly Class IVXVII rapids.

Rainbow trout

I guess that made the day better? I dunno I was to busy looking at stonefly nymphs that keep the trout happy.

rainbow trout, clark fork river, montana wild, missoula mt, nymphing, clackacraft, lower river, summer, nikon d7000

Even thought he fishing was slow I’m sure we will be back.  The lower stretch is know for it’s evening caddis hatches, and we’ll be down there one of these days trying to see what it’s all about and hopefully running into a few rising fish.

-Zack