Painted Rocks

painted rocksI left work early yesterday with a local retired friend. We drove to the West Fork for an afternoon of fly fishing. I have not fished as much as I would have liked this season; however, September, as I’ve alluded to in prior posts, is often a nice time to do so. The West Fork of the Bitterroot is a popular local trout fishery. Too popular, if one speaks to the local Bitterrooters. I only saw one brave guide (I assume he was a guide) yesterday. He was polite as he floated through the hole I was fishing. “I’ll go behind you so I don’t ruin your hole,” he said as he guided the wooden drift boat through the section with a man in the stern and perhaps his wife in the bow. Once by, the guide got out of the boat and pushed the couple through a rocky low water section where the creek divided below where I was fishing. It is not atypical to see rigs stacked below the Reservoir during the big bug hatches in the spring.the one they likedThis year I did not take the raft to the section during the Salmon Fly hatch. Actually, the raft has been comfortably situated below the rear deck next to the canoe and a small duck boat since someone (now a senior in high school) parked his ’98 RAV in the garage’s extra bin. This, of course, is the purpose of the garage, but I miss having the raft in there, readily accessible at a moment’s notice. College perhaps next year will change this, but then there’s the younger sister and her little brother…

I managed two Whitefish and one Cutt while fishing. I used only nymphs as for some reason the West Fork was quite chalky and off color, like a quietly flowing fog through an ancient graveyard under the watchful eye of a full moon. The guide, during a brief chat as he drifted by, indicated they were only sub-surface as well, though he’d seen some October Caddis. For this time of year the tail water seemed a little higher than normal. “Did they know Garland was coming?” I thought to myself while casting a Beadhead Purple Hackled Nymph into an old favorite snag. I was happy to realize I could still find the spot driving in. One year after visiting some customers in Hamilton, I snuck up to the section and had one of those experiences one only has a few times in his or her lifetime. The Salmon Flies were all along the bank and flying overhead. It was a bountiful harvest of many large natives. A massive electrical storm that day later blew through the area and the whole works thereafter shut down. I will never forget the lightning striking in the area among huge Ponderosa Pines. I had a hard time that day breaking it off, though I finally relented. Yesterday it was nice to fish with the bamboo. I’m not sure the last time I got out Mr. Stone’s rod, but it was just as alive and floppy as ever. Even with the nymph rig it was fun to fish.  My partner had his late father’s old Bailey; well made and quite lovely.

Painted Rocks Reservoir is so named due to the colors on the rocks in the area. This is created by the Lichen on the rocks. I took some photos with the Blackberry phone.  The area remains somewhat tranquil without a lot of development in the upper reaches. Although, there are more than the last time I was up. The water level is quite low. Trapper Peak still has some of last season’s snow as well. My partner mentioned he managed a few fish on dries, but it was slow going.  painted rocks ii

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