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Home / Sally Schmidt / Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

July 7, 2016
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Having never been much farther past Missoula, I was quite excited to learn the trip was going to take me to parts unknown. I may have been the only one to not know about this glory but that just added to my yearn for the adventure. The mountain ranges that Montana has to offer never cease to amaze me. The way two rolling fields of barley and canola flowers, dusted with a little sage brush, can crash into each other so violently that they produce the most rugged slices of rock out of all the majestic beauty the US has to offer. So as we arrived in Bozeman, I was surprised by how flat and open the town sat for being surrounded by some of the most defiant mountains I’ve witnessed. If you have yet to see the Bridger and Galliton ranges, add it to your list.

Working their way through these statement making ranges, twisting along the valley like an old garden hose that wont coil properly, are the Madison, Yellowstone, and Galliton rivers. Their waters may not gather in the same place but they definitely come together for the same purpose. Housing healthy cutthroat, browns, and rainbows in some of the most pristine waters I’ve had the pleasure to float. You could tell right away that it was going to be a good day.

We drove further into Montana. Passing miles of coarse mountains jutting straight out from under the rolling pastures, embroidered with herds of cows, a few antelope, and a stretch of cars and drift boats. We stopped by a local fly shop before hitting the water to chat them up about how the river was doing and we all grabbed a few chernobyls and some salmon fly patterns. Armed and ready, we dropped the shuttle rig off across the street and took off up river. When we got to the launch and were waiting our turn for the ramp, the salmon fly hatch was abundant. They were everywhere and they were all a decent size. These fish had been eating well.

As we set off on our float it started off prominently windy. The locals had informed us that it was basically a wind tunnel through that valley and the amount of wind we were dealing with was substantially less then what they were used to. So I certainly wasn’t going to complain. Especially since the wind was helping our casts more often than we were having to fight it. As we meandered through the blanket of plains not only was the view, in that high desert style, breathtaking but it was enhanced by the continuous fish activity we were lucky enough to be experiencing. The fish were hugging the shade of the cut bank like they had just run into an old friend. It started with a few small cutthroat and once we figured out what they all wanted for dinner, we started netting sizable browns and rainbows as well. A salmon fly and caddis duo was definitely on the menu that day. The brown trout were chucks, their bellies handfuls of yellow butter. They all came perfectly speckled like you were putting salt and pepper on your pile of mashed potatoes. The bows we pulled out were bright and chromey. As if they were all broken pieces of a mirror trying to put themselves back together.

As the day was coming to an end, we were almost to the boat launch when we drifted through a hatch of mosquitoes, perfectly timing their arrival out of there resting places just as I went by. I then fought my way through them for the next two hundred yards like I had just watched a beginners “How To” on karate. When I hopped out at the launch, I was thirty seven mosquito bites richer. And I knew right away I’d take another thirty to get to do that float again. Fish or no fish, any day you spend on the water is a good day. That made leaving the launch that evening bitter sweet because I knew that was all the time I had to fish while I was in Montana. We were heading back to Idaho in the morning. The six or so hours we spent floating, netting fish, and exploring some of the rivers banks will forever be a page in my book of memories but there will always be something about Montana that I will never get enough of. Those rugged stone mountains have carved out a spot in me and tucked themselves in with their canola flower blankets.

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About Sally

Sally Schmidt

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My Bio

Being born and raised in northern Idaho my passion for the outdoors began at a young age. It started with hunting and educating the masses about conservation and has turned into a massive fishing addiction driven by a love for the sport and the science behind preserving them and their beautiful habitats. The more you learn, the greater the respect for nature will be! Never giving up on my dreams as I fish my way through the amazing territory Idaho, Washington, and Montana have to offer. Followed by my amateur photography skills and a couple of blue heelers. Making a life, not a living, one river at a time!