On the cloudy second morning, we started out dining on delectable cinnamon French toast at
the Northern Pacific Beanery. A down-home café exuding a refreshing western atmosphere and the
friendliest of waitresses along with delicious meals.
After breakfast we traveled upriver to check out several access points where I could possibly
fish, but I was met by a chocolate-colored, rising river and trout with lockjaw. Without much of an
opportunity to fish, we checked out several hiking trails in the Gallatin National Forest along with several
additional fishing access points.
The nice thing about Paradise Valley is that fishing is not the only outdoor activity. Irrigated
alfalfa fields throughout the Valley are inundated by whitetail and mule deer each morning and evening,
providing excellent photo opportunities while the grand vistas are breathtakingly beautiful, and the
traffic is nothing like that in the Yellowstone National Park.
During the early evening hours, we traveled a rain-soaked dirt road through the Gallatin Forest
paralleling Mill Creek almost to Snowbank before returning to Livingston to enjoy a homemade burger
at the local, old-fashioned drive-in restaurant.
A crystal clear blue sky greeted us on Friday morning, but the river remained muddy. Fishing
with a black woolly bugger with a streamer as a dropper, I targeted the seam below a visible boulder
when a 17-inch brown trout engulfed the woolly bugger almost at my feet. But that would be it for the
morning as I failed to get another strike.
After lunch, we drove to Bozeman where Jan shopped a bit and I visited with several fly shops
about a float trip on the Madison, but I couldn’t work out the logistics. We returned to Livingston and I
continued to fish the Yellowstone. After a lengthy hike down river without a strike, I returned to our
vehicle where I found Jan visiting with one of the locals, fifteen-year-old Bo Jessen, who is not only an
experienced fisherman that ties his own flies, but an accomplished archer. More importantly, he was
personable and familiar with the area.
Following a short visit, Bo asked if I would like to fish for cutthroats on one of the clear running
high country streams in the morning, so we made a plan.
Dark clouds over the Valley were not what I wanted to see on my last day on the water, and by
the time I caught up with Bo, it was raining quite hard, so he jumped in with me and we simply visited.
It was extremely enjoyable to hear about his first big whitetail and about several big bull elk that he
regularly sees not far from his house. After our fairly lengthy visit, the rain receded, and we decided to
fish the Yellowstone as rain clouds covered the mountainside we intended to fish for cutthroats.
With minimal water clarity, I tied on a black woolly bugger followed by a small copper john
nymph for a dropper. Working my way along the bank upriver, I targeted the semi swift water behind
the larger rocks jutting out of the water. Visually following a strike indicator is always exciting because
each time those nymphs hit, the river bottom the striker begins to bob, indicating a potential strike, and
you always must react by jerking the rod just in case it’s a fish.
After 10 casts or so, my indicator bobbed a couple of times then disappeared so I reacted with a
swift flick of my wrist and was delighted to feel the weight of a heavy trout on the other end. After
carefully playing the fish for several minutes, I was able to work it toward Bo and he netted the fish—a
beautiful 18” brown trout we took several photos before returning the fish back to the river.
Bo parted around noon but I remained working my way upriver catching another heavy brown
trout while ominous dark clouds formed to the south. Once I had the trout tired out in shallow water, I
laid my rod down and prepared my camera for a couple of shots taken in timer mode, but just as I was
about to set my camera up on a rock, I saw a magnificent mule deer buck approach the opposing
Immediately I jettisoned the short lens and grabbed my 200mm lens, and before I mounted it on
my camera, seven additional bucks joined the larger one and walked single file upriver while I gathered
some incredible pictures
Afterwards with my smaller lens on the camera, which I had carefully positioned on a rock, I set
off the timer and rapidly moved to the water’s edge, but once I grabbed my line, the obviously
rejuvenated fish dashed off, breaking the line as a light drizzle occurred and I decided to call it quits, but
only until next summer.