And now for something completely different – Paul Richardson catches Montana rainbows
WHEN most anglers think of fry-feeding trout frenzies, the scenarios and battles that come to mind are around the shallows or structures of our famous large stillwater fisheries. And rightly so, this fishing can be high-octane stuff - with incredibly exciting, hard-hitting eats followed by an equally impressive fight from these predators. However, I think of something slightly different – wild fry-feeders on our rivers! As we enter the autumnal season, the insect life reduces significantly and becomes harder to predict - making the search for rising fish even more difficult. As the fly-life seemingly disappears, so to do the anglers – but the fish remain! With reduced angling pressure and influx of fresh swimming food there is now no better time to secure that wild fish of a lifetime. The USA seem to be way ahead of us Europeans on ‘streamer’ fishing for big trout in autumn (and early spring) on their vast network of rivers. They have it mastered, more so than ever before with recent tackle advancements in single-hand and two-hand troutspey equipment. It is so popular, because it is so productive, when searching for that fish of a lifetime on a river. Big fish, eat little fish – this mantra is the same on our rivers, as it is on our stillwaters. My most memorable example of this theory in action happened while filming a short film on ‘Trout-Spey’ on the Missouri river, in Craig, Montana. Unfortunately for me, the cameras were no longer rolling as the best of the day’s light had faded into dusk. Despite this, my fishing buddy and I continued our search for a specimen, wild trout on long-tailed lures through the final run. Sadly, he was searching the run ahead of me, which minimised my chances. Approaching the flat water at the tailout of the pool my buddy momentarily hooked and lost a fish that he cited as, “a good fish!” Working our way through the run he shouted back to me “you’re going to get a big one, I know it!” as he fished out the last piece of water and reeled in his line. No sooner were the words out his mouth, I felt the first hit on the fly, but nothing. Then suddenly line was screaming off my reel as the fish headed immediately downstream trying to work its way around a bridge post. With plenty of side strain and the longer length Trout Spey rod bent to the bank, enough pressure was applied to turn the fish. In turning its direction, the fish then headed off equally as quick upstream - helping me gain some line back on my reel. After several minutes of tug-of-war and constant head-shakes we got our first glimpse of the fish. Immediately looking at one another we said nothing, as the bright pink stripe of 20-inches-plus rainbow rolled at our feet. With shaking hands the fish slipped into our small net, with half of its body and tail spilling out over the bottom of the frame! We quickly taped the fish at 23 inches, which on these river systems, put this rainbow in the 5-6lb class, before it was quickly returned – without a photograph as it was by now total darkness. A camerashy fish. Not that this mattered, as this fish will live long in both our memories!
“Big fish, eat little fish – it’s the same on our rivers.”
A truly wild Missouri river rainbow is worth the cost of the flight.
Expect ferocious takes and powerful fights.