Boulder River – 08/19/2018

Time: 11:00AM – 1:30PM

Location: Two miles south of Falls Creek Campground

Boulder River 08/19/2018 Photo Album

Jane and I drove from Livingston, MT to the Boulder River south of Big Timber. Based on some research I determined that most of the public access was south of Natural Bridge State Park. I drove on a somewhat rough gravel road beyond the state park for another six miles, until I parked on a wide shoulder across from a Christian ranch. Jane and I agreed that I would fish from 11:00AM until 2:00PM, while she walked and read her book.

I assembled my Orvis Access four weight and walked downstream along the dirt road for thirty yards, until I found a reasonably safe place to angle down to the river. The Boulder River in this area consisted of a mass of large boulders with clear greenish tinged water swirling and cascading over and around the exposed rocks. Deep pockets and runs characterized the flowing water for most of the section I fished on Sunday. The air temperature was in the low sixties, when I began.

Brawling Boulder River

After significant success on Saturday on Mill Creek, I reverted to a yellow fat Albert, ultra zug bug, and salvation nymph. During the early going several trout refused the fat Albert, but after twenty minutes a twelve inch rainbow trout grabbed the salvation nymph, as it began to swing at the end of its drift. I continued with this approach for another hour and tallied three more rainbows to boost the fish count to four. Three rainbows nabbed the salvation, and one snatched a 20 incher from the drift.

First and Best Fish on the Boulder River

I was rather disappointed at this point with the slow catch rate and the small size of the fish. The river was gorgeous and suggested much better fishing, and the failure of the Boulder River to meet my expectations was inexplicable. I read prior to Sunday that the Boulder River was a nymphing and caddis river, so I embarked on the somewhat time consuming task of configuring my line with a strike indicator, split shot, an emerald caddis pupa, and a salvation nymph. I theorized that the split shot and two nymphs would allow me to get deeper in the boulder strewn river.

The ploy failed. I applied the new approach for twenty minutes, and then I implemented another 180 degree change, when I switched to a size 14 chubby Chernboyl. Within minutes a ten inch rainbow darted to the surface in a long deep trough, and it crushed the foam imitation. This initial success was followed by a series of refusals, so I once again elected to change. I replaced the chubby with a gray size twelve stimulator. The stimulator experiment continued until 1:30, before I declared it a failure.

Decent Rainbow

I pondered my next move and concluded that a return to dry/dropper was perhaps my best chance for additional success. I did not relish the knot tying exercise, and I was within thirty minutes of my agreed upon quitting time, so I ended my fly fishing early. The best part of Sunday was our one hour hike within Natural Bridge State Park on our return drive to Big Timber and ultimately Billings, MT.

Fish Landed: 5


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