Montana Troutfitters is extremely excited to partner with Beartooth Capital and utilize their unique fishing opportunities located on a number of their ranches. We’ll be joining a select group of outfitters with access to a number of recently restored water on both the Jefferson and the Madison River’s. Beartooth Capital specializes in restoring and enhancing ranch properties with a mind toward conservation and preservation. You can learn more about what they do and their properties HERE.
Justin King, Dave Kumlien, and I toured both the Jefferson Island Ranch and the Madison Spring Creek Ranch with Mike Mansfield last Wednesday. Our day started at the Madison River property and Mike walked us through all of the work they have done to both Rey Creek and Darlington Creek. The difference in the quality of holding water and fishing opportunities is pretty amazing. They have essentially taken two creeks that flowed wide, slow, and silty and used sod chunks taken from other areas of the property to create riffles, deep pools, side channels, and incredible undercut banks that hold great fish.
After looking at the Madison Spring Creek Ranch we headed over to the Jefferson Island Ranch located just outside of Whitehall on more than 1,600 acres of fishing and hunting heaven. Here most of the stream work has been done to Moose Creek- a small spring fed creek that winds its way 1.5 miles through the center of the property. Similar to the work done on Darlington Creek and Rey Creek, Bearooth has used sod from the property to increase the speed of the creek and create some perfect trout holding water.
We were finally able to bust out our fly rods on Fish Creek- a spring fed channel of the Jefferson River. Fishing was great using stonefly patterns on top and small streamers. Most fish averaged 15” with a few big ones getting away from us. The sun was high and bright and I can only imagine how amazing the fishing would have been with an overcast day. After a few hours of fishing on Fish Creek we headed back to town to grab some fishing fuel (gas station burritos and chips) and headed back over to the Madison property.
With over 5 miles of spring creek to fish on this property, deciding where to start was the hardest part. While we were deciding how to attack the water we had one of our spring storms blow in just as we jumped out of the truck. We battled 30 mph winds for an hour; after a few misses and short strikes on streamers we decided to go fish at the top of the property behind some cotton woods. This proved to be the right decision.
I changed up patterns and put on a black Sculpzilla after seeing some huge leeches in the creek earlier that day. I tucked a tight cast upstream underneath a small bridge that crossed the ditch and made two strips before my line went tight and a big brown exploded from beneath a weed bed. There was no slowing this bad boy down as he raced down the tight creek, immediately taking up all of my slack and making my reel scream. After my initial moment of shock subsided, I chased the brown down the creek until I could get him into a back eddy where I landed him. He measured just a hair over 22 inches and had some great girth to him. After a quick picture we released the brown and watched him swim safely away.
After the typical high-fives and cheers, we continued to fish down the creek picking up a few others on small streamers- the wind had pretty much shut down any dry fly action. Eventually we walked back up to the truck and Justin threw on a mouse pattern that he tied up the night before. We stalked up to the same bridge where I stuck the big fish earlier and he made a good cast just behind the bridge. As soon as the mouse hit the water a huge brown exploded from the bottom and absolutely crushed the mouse. If you’ve ever watched shark week where they film great whites hunting seals you have an idea of what this strike was like. The fish knocked the fly two feet in the air and tumbled end over end in a flash of white belly and deep gold back. After a few more casts and no takers we headed to Manhattan to get a couple burgers, watch the end of the Bruins hockey game, and think about the fish that will be haunting our dreams for weeks to come.
We are very excited to see where our relationship with Beartooth Capital goes from here. We will be running trips on both of these properties this summer and I highly recommend you take advantage of the amazing fishing that they offer. We will be visiting another property owned by Beartooth Capital on the North Fork of the Musselshell River called The River Why Ranch. Once we get that property figured out we'll be running trips there as well. If you would like to learn more feel free to give the shop a call or stop in and ask for Justin or myself.
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