So what does a fly fishing outfitter do with a mid-season break? He takes a family fishing vacation of course! I always try to schedule some time off toward the end of August before the kids go back to school so we can take a trip somewhere. The trip doesn’t have to be exclusively about fishing, but wherever we go fishing has to be on the itinerary at some point. This year we made the trek north to Fernie, British Columbia which is home to the Elk River and legendary dry fly fishing for westslope cutthroat. My good friend, Jeff, is an outfitter up there and runs Home Waters Guide Service so once we got into town he stopped by to fill me in on conditions and hatches. It’s always fun to explore new water, and with the kids there is not a much better option than dry fly cutthroat fishing near the end of summer. The scenery around Fernie is simply spectacular and over three days of floating on the Elk river we discovered that the fishing is awesome too. The young anglers caught plenty of fish to keep them interested, and my wife crushed trout on dries the two days that she fished. There were lots of fat 14-16″ cutthroat that hit the net with a few approaching the 18″ mark. If it wasn’t for some local letting all the air out of my tires on the last day it would have been an absolutely perfect trip. Fortunately Jeff came to the rescue with a rented air compressor. His efforts turned a potential nightmare into just a small inconvienence. Overall it was a great family fishing vacation and the perfect break before our final push into the fall fishing season. The kids are already working on where we are going next summer.
I have been taking fly fishing road trips for as long as I can remember. My most recent trip last week over to the Missouri was a reminder of how much things have changed over the years. Back in my twenties most of my fly fishing road trips were spur of the moment. They usually involved 2 or 3 other guys and a couple of dogs jammed into a pick-up truck. Money was short in those days so the beverage of choice was usually whatever 30 pack of beer was on sale, and the food budget put Ramen noodles at the top of the list. Hotels were out of the question so the tent was always with us. One of the more memorable trips was to the Beaverhead river in the spring. It was beautiful in Missoula, but we showed up on the Beav to find a foot of snow and the only clear ground to pitch the tent was right up against the FWP outhouse at the access. The wind had scoured a bare patch of earth next to the shitter. It was so cold that by 3 am we were all huddled back in the idling truck drinking beer and waiting for the sun to come up. I think we only caught one trout that whole trip, but we had a great time.
These days fly fishing road trips have a whole different feel. Now, with just two of us we can fill up a whole truck with all the gear we take. Not much camping anymore either as rental cabins seem to fit the bill with full kitchens and comfortable beds. Elk steaks, stinky cheeses, and bacon and eggs have replaced the Ramen with red wines and high-end bourbons instead of cheap beer. I still miss those hastily planned road trips of my youth, but I do enjoy the creature comforts of my trips today. One thing that hasn’t changed is my desire to travel and fish, the road trip remains a constant in my fishing life.
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