My first attempt at a fishing "short".

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mr. Smith loves Chocolate Soup

Most people never know what to expect on the Smith River until they are on the water, rod in hand, fly in the water.  I have heard mixed reports for years and it seems as though it may be a roll of the dice whether you get the fishing of your life, or get your teeth kicked in.  However, even though this was my first trip down the Smith, I knew exactly what to expect, and that was chocolate soup.

As our date drew nearer our party was watching the flows constantly.  Random texts with numbers became the norm for two weeks.  "1450 CFS".  "Coming Down".  "Bumping up".  "Damnit."  These short messages needed no additional context.  We were all hopeful, but upon seeing the river for the first time that weekend, all hopes dashed.  She was darker than a black steer's tookus on a moonless summer night.  The joke was, "I'll bet there's a good, solid inch and a half of visibility."  We'd chuckle, and then wonder to ourselves if an inch and a half was being generous.

Cocoa Highway
We had stopped in Wilsall on the way and had a great big cheeseburger, expecting it would be the last good meal we'd have for a few days.  Our bellies were full as we put camp together at Camp Baker, got a fire going, and had a few vitamin Rs.  "Maybe she'll come down over the next couple of days" someone remarked.  I'm sure stranger things have happened, but with warm temp and rain in the forecast it was highly unlikely. 

The next morning brought renewed hope in the form of the river map and the tributaries that the local ranger said were fishing well.  Off we went.

First Stop - Wonka's Corner, just down from Baby Ruth Bend
Most of the gang, in absolutely no hurry
The first several fish of the trip were in Rocky Creek.  Kyle and I stopped just above our camp for the night and headed upstream, doing our best not to trespass, and soon got into the fish.  Eggs, soft hackles, and san juan worms were the ticket.

Kyle on the board first... in water I had just passed up

Jonesy on the board

Not a bad looking backdrop

I have to say that day 2 was exactly the same as day 1.  Muddy water, fish in the tribs, good food.  Oh, have I not mentioned the food?  Well, Rooster was a hell of a cook, and volunteered to do most of it.  As it turns out that cheeseburger in Wilsall was NOT the best meal of the trip.  Here's a pic of Rooster, the best camp cook alive...just ask him.

Rooster holding an "ancient indian artifact"

Day three... The highlight of the trip a la the Heaven on Earth Ranch.  It truly might be.  Kyle and I pulled in and decided it was high time for 9 holes of golf in our wading boots.  Vick Anderson, one of the proprietors, is one of the nicest hosts I've ever met and accompanied us for half the round carrying a "jug" filled with some sort of concoction that, despite its potency, was quite refreshing.

Kyle carefully chooses his weapon and later discovers he grabbed a left handed putter.

I opted for a club with non "super power", as the longest hole was 150 yards.

Ask Gary Anderson the name of the cliff...He's a riot.  BTW, that's a tee box up there and I'm standing on the green.

Kyle, inches away from taking the lead outright, collapses in disbelief, or maybe he was just tired.

To make a long trip story short, we had a great time, caught a few fish, made some new friends, and saw an incredible amount of beauty.  I leave you with a few more images of the Smith, a river that you should definitely have on your bucket list.

The view from a latrine....seriously

See you down the river!