When we drove south out of Virginia on a beautiful autumn day, our first stop was Bristol, home of one of NASCAR’s most famous tracks, the Bristol Motor Speedway.  We had to make a pilgrimage to this legendary half-mile oval and a somewhat legendary Cootie Brown’s for lunch.

Our 19 days in Tennessee featured not only a chance to fish the 6 TU Top 100 trout streams in the state, but also to visit the Great Smokey Mountain National Park with dear friends James and Janice Kelley.  We fished four big rivers more suited to floating than wading (Watauga, South Holston, Hiwassee and Clinch) and two small mountain streams (Tellico and Little).   The fall foliage was in bloom…. mornings were crisp… and it was an ideal time to be in the Volunteer state.

We hope you enjoy this short highlight video above regarding our time here.  Below you’ll find a bit of info on each of the rivers (and GSMNP) we visited along with links to information, “Guide Talks”, fly shops and more.

Watauga

Like every stop along our River Ramble adventure, our first stop was at the local fly shop, the South Holston Fly Shop, to meet up with our guide, Matt “Scooter” Gwynn.  After getting everything ready, we were off “Scootin’ the Watauga” with Matt.

South Holston

We had the pleasure of fishing the South Holston with Matt Champion, the owner and outfitter for the South Holston Fly Shop.  When I mentioned “crisp” morning above, this morning was so cold, we hung out in the shop for an hour waiting for warmer weather before embarking.  Once we did, it was “FISH ON” all day.  We truly had some beautiful “South Holston Views“.

Hiwassee

Our meeting spot for our Hiwassee float trip was a riverside park under a train bridge near Reliance (TN).  When we met our guide, Jeff Flake, of Southeastern Anglers at the park, we knew we were in for a great day full of “Hiwassee Hijinks“.   It all started with a trip to the Reliance Fly and Tackle where the hijinks began and just kept coming all day, including some really gorgeous trout!

Tellico

If you thought naming our first “Guide Talk” with Jeff, “Hiwassee Hijinks” was unique… just imagine what our chat with Jeff after fishing the Tellico “Don’t Ever Ever Fish Past the Barricade” was like!  If you missed this one the first time, give it a listen.  Amazing!

GSMNP

Townsend (TN) is know as being the “quiet” entrance to the Great Smokey Mountain National Park.  We met up with James & Janice Kelley (both native Tennesseans) here and began our “Smoky’s Adventure with the Kelleys“.   We toured several historic sites and structures inside the park as well as some of the most beautiful waterfalls anywhere.

Little

James also came to Townsend to fish with us on the Little River inside GSMNP, so, off we went with our guide, Chad Williams of The Smokey Mountain Angler.  The beauty of this small mountain stream is evident in the video above, including its trout.  Highlights of our time with Chad can be found in our post, “Little River, Little Fish”.

Clinch

Our last (but definitely not least) stop on our 2018 “Ramble” was Knoxville (TN) to fish the Clinch with Michael “Rocky” Cox, owner/lead guide for Rocky Top Anglers.   We had so much fun fishing the Clinch with Rocky and hanging out in/around Knoxville, we know we’ll be coming back…. “Rocky Tops!

When we mapped out our River Ramble route, we knew we’d be hitting some locations at their “ideal” times for fishing and others not so much.  When we worked on Colorado, we’d planned on fishing the South Platte and Arkansas in October 2017.  In 2018, our plan was to fish the remaining 7 trout streams from the book, “Trout Unlimited’s Guide to Americas Greatest 100 Trout Streams”.  As it turned out, we hit the Colorado fly fishing jackpot.  We hit 8 of the 9 streams under ideal conditions (Big Thompson was way high) and were able to fish dries almost exclusively on most of the streams.  At each location we visited, the water had recently come down, and the fish were hungry.  We were definitely on a “Rocky Mountain High” in Colorado…. just on fly fishing…. winks!

We know you’ll enjoy this highlight video, “Colorful Colorado”.  Below is some brief information about each stream (in order with the video above) and links to our individual posts, “Guide Talks” and more.

Animas

What’s not to like about Durango…. live music, incredible craft beer and incredible fly fishing.  We floated the river with “Crazy Mike” Sulkosky (Duranglers Flies & Supplies), caught fish….. took a swim, had a blast and did our “Animas Antics” guide talk.  Our Durango area adventure then took us on the Durango & Silverton Railroad toward Silverton along the Animas River , but we got off at Cascade Creek and fished.  Talk about an adventure…. we wrote a blog post, “Cascade Canyon Caper” just on this daylong journey.

Arkansas

When we met our float guide, Billy Hicks (“ArkAngler Billy“), for our Arkansas River trip in Salida at the ArkAnglers Fly Shop, we found out he was originally from a small town in Missouri nearby where Barb and I grew up. Billy put us on fish all day as we floated the section right through town.  We were joined by our good fishing buddies, James Kelley and Dan McCormack for more fishing, along with another ArkAnglers guide, Preston Larimer.  We waded in several different sections of the river and found fish in each one.     You’ll notice the epitome of “high sticking” done by Dan in the video.

South Platte

Just up (or down) the road from Salida, we fished the South Platte River with Vinnie Renda (“VSP“) of South Platte Fly Shop in Woodland Park.  We found a few of those fabled browns in the “Dream Stream” and chased them in Eleven Mile Canyon as well.  Several evenings we found ourselves in a local cafe, eating, drinking and watching the Cubs win the National League pennant on their way to becoming World Series Champs.

Big Thompson / Rocky Mountain National Park

We pulled the SaraLinda into Estes Park and headed to Kirk’s Fly Shop to meet up with Jeffrey “Mohawk” Curren (“MO“), our guide for the Big Thompson.  The river was flowing high and fast, but “Mo” found spots for us to wet a line and hook into a few fish.  Our youngest daughter Kelly joined us for some hiking to alpine lakes and viewing wildlife… really wildlife when you see the pic of Barb and Kelly at one of the trailheads.  We found some beautiful fish along our hikes as well.

Upper Colorado

We fished the Upper Colorado both inside Rocky Mountain NP, as well as at several local access points such as Hot Sulphur Springs State Wildlife Area…. small fish in the park, larger fish downstream at the access points.  I even found a nice rock in the middle of the river to enjoy!

Frying Pan

We met our guides for the two rivers near Basalt at Frying Pan Anglers.  Eric (“in the Frying Pan“) Way, our guide for the “Pan” as it’s known, took us to several spots that were more remote from the horde of anglers that flock to this stream in the summer.  Right off the bat, he put me onto a big rainbow that set the stage for our day.

Roaring Fork

July 4th on the Roaring Fork (“Fireworks“) was a trip to be remembered forever.  We put in with Ed Deison, in a drift boat, along with what seemed all of Aspen, Basalt and Carbondale.  There were rafts, tubes and drift boats galore working their way downstream.  However, the “bite” was on…. dry flies, nymphs…. everything worked!  In one of the pictures in the video, you’ll see me holding a big fish, with Ed taking a picture of it…. supposedly because each day the FPA guides see who catches the biggest fish.  Ed thought this was a candidate until as he was taking this picture, Dylan Mendoza pulled up next to us and his client had just caught one a couple of inches longer.  We went back out a couple of days later with Dylan and had a “double”.  We had some tasty BBQ as well at an out of the way joint, Slow Groovin’ BBQ in Marble.

Gunnison

We didn’t float just any section of the Gunnison, we floated the Black Canyon section.  Another one of those “bucket list” trips that involved meeting at 6am…. riding to the Gunnision Gorge…. then 7 miles down a road that no one in their right mind would go down without a SERIOUS 4WD, high clearance vehicle.  Then, after 7 miles driving, we walked Chukar Trail down to our waiting rafts on the Colorado.  The fishing was great, but you have to watch “Our Day in the Gunnison Gorge”, which details in video what this trip feels like, including the 19 named rapids.  We visited the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and descending down a 16% grade to the water, found some good fishing holes.  We also took time to visit a very cool mountain town, Ouray, and also found some beer…. of course!

Rio Grande

We laughed as we pulled into the RV park in South Fork (CO) seeing about a dozen RVs, all from Texas.  Seems South Fork is a “home away from home” for many Texans.  We’d met the owner of Wolf Creek Angler at a GRTU TroutFest a year before and were set to fish with them.  We set off with our guide, Aaron Horrocks, and fished assorted dry flies all day with nary a need for a nymph or streamer.  We coined it “Dry Fly Daze“.

We couldn’t resist putting the last picture in.  We’d driven up to Creede to see the small town and eat at a restaurant Aaron had highly recommended.  We stumbled across the Ramble House fly shop…. seemed appropriate along our way.

Note:  The opening video clip is from the Frying Pan and the closing video clip is from a bridge overlooking the Roaring Fork.

Montana has been our second home for years now, and will become our primary summer months home soon.  We absolutely love this state, the spirit of its people, the near perfect summertime temps,  the endless opportunities for outdoor adventures and especially its world class fishing.  Before we even looked inside the pages of the Trout Unlimited’s Guide to America’s Greatest 100 Trout Streams book, we knew there would be numerous Montana streams included.  Below is the list of the 9 rivers included in the book, along with links to our “Guide Talks” and highlights of our time in Montana.

Big Hole

When we fished this river in June, 2017, we found a Big (fast) Hole flowing.  We’d just missed the famous Salmon Fly hatch by a couple of weeks, so we’ll be back.  Another reason to come back is the Beaverhead River which is nearby, and while for some reason excluded from the TU Top 100 book, is itself a tremendous trout stream.  If you visit the area, make sure to make Melrose (MT) your base came.  The true Montana feeling of this small town with the Sportsman’s Motel, Sunrise Fly Shop and Hitching Post restaurant/bar right next to one another is not to be missed.

Big Horn

We’d never fished the Big Horn before our River Ramble, but it has become one of our favorite rivers.  We took a memorable ride on the “Bighorn Mothership” with Merritt Harris and had a “Bighorn Blast” fishing in the area.   If you want to experience catching lots of big fish, this is a fishery not to be missed.

Bitterroot

Bitterroot Chase” Harrison was our guide on the Bitterroot and Pat’s Rubber Legs was the fly of the day.  When Chase learned we were interviewing “characters” along our River Ramble, he immediately recommended someone we had to meet, Andy Carlson.  Andy is a guide/outfitter, fly creator (Purple Haze among others) but most importantly, his “Conservation Leadership” has been critical to keeping the Bitterroot a world class fishery.

Blackfoot

We had the distinct pleasure of fishing with “Ben DeMers on the Blackfoot” River.  Ben, like Chase, guides for Missoulian Angler in Missoula.   It was our first trip on the Blackfoot and Ben made it memorable with both the fishing and his knowledge of the river and surrounding areas.  He gave us tips for fishing Rock Creek as well.  This river was highlighted in A River Runs Through It.

Gallatin

The Gallatin is our “home river” out of Bozeman and we’ve fished it from far up in Yellowstone National Park to its joining with the Jefferson and Madison Rivers to form the Missouri.  Our goto shop in Big Sky is “Wild Trout Outfitters” and we sat down with owner JD Bingham to talk about the Gallatin.  We also took time to feature our local waters with a highlight post “Gallatin-Big Sky Highlights“.

Madison

While the Lower Madison is closer to our Bozeman basecamp, the Upper Madison from Ennis into Yellowstone is our primary fishing stretch of the river.  We featured this river on two different float trips.  The first was “Madison Mayhem” with Spaz out of Kelly Galloup’s Slide Inn.  The second as a “Madison Redux” with Steve Smith out of River’s Edge fly shop in Bozeman.  Needless to say, we really enjoy fishing all the stretches of the Madison.

Missouri

While we both grew up in a small river town, Lexington (MO) on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River, it bears little resemblance to the Missouri River in Montana, especially the section just below Holter Dam.  Our River Ramble “Mighty Mo” trip with Shane Wilson of Headhunters Fly Shop in Craig (MT), was not our first on the river, and it sure won’t be our last.  This stretch of the Missouri is filled with acrobatic, hungry bows and browns ready for an epic fight.

Rock Creek

We fished Rock Creek from Clinton to Phillipsburg and were blown away by the beauty of the area.  We didn’t have a guide for our time on Rock Creek as all of our guides in the area told us we’d be just fine on our own.  Turns out, they were right.  A stimulator, purple haze or parachute adams were all we needed to bring hungry trout to the surface…. so we dubbed our river post “Rock Creek ROCKS!”.

Yellowstone, Middle Section

Like the Gallatin and Madison, the Yellowstone is one of our “regular” rivers to fish and the section between Gardiner and Livingston is our favorite.  We’ve floated it many times with varying degrees of success.  Our last trip, with Jeff Pavlovich of Flies Only Fishing was incredibly successful.  As a matter of fact, we only used one fly to catch a lot of  beautiful Yellowstone Cutthroats…. which gave us our “Guide Talk” title “Chernobyls on the Stone“.  The only modification was between brown and yellow colors.

 

Last year, almost to the day, we fished the Lees Ferry Reach of the Colorado River with Skip Dixon and Kevin Campbell of Lees Ferry Anglers.  We were joined by fishing buddies Dan McCormack, James Kelly and his son, Andy.  What we discovered was one of the most strikingly amazing landscapes you can imagine…. as well as a world class fishery.  At the Lees Ferry put in, we watched as anxious rafters prepared for their journey downstream through the Grand Canyon while we boarded a jet boat for our run upstream toward Glen Canyon dam.  After a great day fishing, Skip and Kevin shared their perspectives on this fishery and its surroundings in Lees Ferry Fanatics.  While we were in Arizona, we also took numerous photos and incorporated them into our highlight video post, AZ Memories.

Our time last year was so good here, we decided to come back this spring.  Skip took us out again on a beautiful day in the canyon.  We found some gorgeous fish that Skip captured in his photos shown above in this post.  I told Skip that our post on this trip was going to be about him and his photos.  He has an eye for photography that captures not just the fish, but most importantly, the surroundings in this magical place.  He also uses a variety of filters to further enhance the images and their meanings.  His pictures are always treasured as mementos of our time with him on the water.

Skip avidly chronicles his time on the river, as well as providing fishing reports.   He takes a very mathematical approach to his guiding, making sure to document river flows, temperatures, hatches and fishing success among many factors.  His methods help assure his clients have the best chances at success on the river.  You can find his reports and chronicles on both his Instagram feed as well as on his Facebook page.

When to come fish with Skip?  Anytime is the right answer, but according to Skip, the summer Cicada hatch is not to be missed.  He also hinted that if you want to target big browns, think about fishing in January or February.  We can’t wait to get back whenever we are in the area to fish the river and experience this vividly stunning landscape.

There are three rivers listed in the Trout Unlimited’s Guide to America’s 100 Best Trout Streams that hail from Virginia (Rapidan) and West Virginia (Seneca Creek, Cranberry).  As we traversed these two states we couldn’t help but imagine there were many more rivers that could have been on the list, especially given that two of these rivers are very small mountain streams of which there are many in the mountains here.  We actually did fish another, Hazel Creek in Virginia, when we found we couldn’t get to the spot on the Rapidan that our guide, Carson Oldham of Albemarle Angler in Charlottesville had originally intended to take us due to the road being blown out.  Luckily, Barb and I had hiked up the Rapidan the day prior to fish it from another access point.

One of the things we were most struck by in both VA and WV was the natural beauty of these states.  As you’ll see when you watch our music video of The Virginias (above), this natural beauty was for us, the highlight of fishing here.  While we did hook into fish in each of these streams, the fishing was not spectacular from a “catching” or “size” perspective.  We fished Seneca Creek and the Rapidan in the fall and the Cranberry in the spring, so perhaps it was our timing.  We did enjoy our “Creek Stompin’ in West Virginia” and the “Wild and Wonderful” Cranberry.  However, one of the things we found fishing the two WV streams was the lack of guides and fly shops to assist us in our fishing.  We did get great help for the Rapidan and Hazel having Carson along with us on our “Oh Shenandoah” journey.  In a downpour of rain, we fished small pockets of water along these beautiful streams hooking into beautiful small trout.

We hope you enjoy this short video chronicling our time in The Virginias.  We’re sure to come back and find more of these small mountain streams to explore.

 

We’ve been hanging out on our local trout stream here in Texas, the Guadalupe River, for a couple of months now.  Our local  TU chapter, Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited, has stocked (see pic) the river several times over the past few months with mostly rainbows, but also a load of browns.  While the actual number of pounds of fish has remained pretty consistent year over year of stocking (see pic), this year fewer numbers, but bigger fish have been stocked in the river.  We’ve found ourselves regularly hooking into trout in the 18”-20+” realm (see pics).

The river has been great for wading this season as the flows have remained below 100cfs.  We’ve taken several hikes up and downstream to spots that before you’d have needed a raft or kayak to access.   This has made the river much more accessible to anglers and we’ve sensed an increase in the numbers of people we’ve seen on the river, both wading and taking guided fishing trips in rafts.  We had the pleasure of taking a trip with Dylan Mendoza of All Water Guides this past week and netted some beautiful bows and browns.  As always, we love seeing all the wildlife along the river, especially all the different species of birds (see pic).

This being our home water in winter, we’ve blogged about the Guadalupe before.  For those of you who may be new to our blog, or those who want more about this southernmost fishery, here are some previous post highlights.

Guadalupe Guide Talk

Our very first “Guide Talk” was done with two Texas fly fishing “legends”, Alvin Dedeaux and J.T. Van Zandt.  These two are real “characters’ who shared not just fly fishing stories, philosophies, Guadalupe tips, and general fishing intel…. but some great stories of their adventures together.

Jimbo!

We did a two part interview with Jimbo Roberts, our GRTU VP of fisheries, who is also one of those “characters” along the Guadalupe.   Jimbo, Part 1, deals with how Jimbo got into fly fishing and how GRTU came to be… and it’s about beer!   Jimbo, Part 2, deals with Guadalupe Fishing Tips.

GRTU TroutFest

One of GRTU’s primary fundraisers is TroutFest, an annual celebration of all things trout fishing.  As part of our River Ramble blog, we attended and covered the last two events, Troutfest 2017 and Troutfest 2018.

Local Waters

We also documented the Guadalupe River in much more detail with our “Local Waters” post from last year.

Deep in the Heart of Texas

If you want to see what the river is like, take a trip down the Guadalupe in this short music video chronicling our river trip with JT and Alvin.

While on our River Ramble through Montana, we had the honor and pleasure of sitting on the banks of the Bitterroot River with Andy Carlson, owner/head guide, Bitterroot Anglers.  We covered a variety of topics with Andy including his introduction to fly fishing in Colorado , the ecosystem of the Bitterroot River and fly tying (including Andy’s famous Purple Haze).  Most importantly, Andy shared his experiences in conservation, advocacy and activism beginning with that first creek in CO where he learned to fish.  That work has continued throughout Andy’s life, connecting him with other legends of fly fishing and conservation including Dan Bailey and Bud Lilly working to protect waters throughout the area.  Andy was the leader in supporting the Bitterroot as a wild trout fishery vs. a stocked trout fishery.  He detailed how he and other conservationists worked to make the Bitterroot the world class fishery it is today.

At the end of the interview, I asked Andy what we could all do to continue this stewardship of our rivers and streams.  His response really connected with us both, as I hope it will connect with you, as you watch his interview.  He responded, “hands on work with the kids” as they are the next to carry this mantle of conservation.   Barb and I both agreed, as soon as we can, we want to get our grandkids out to meet and learn from Andy Carlson.

We know you’ll enjoy this interview with Andy, but as importantly, we hope it will spur you to get involved, however you can, in protecting our nations rivers and streams.

Every year the Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited  Chapter of Trout Unlimited holds TroutFest, a celebration of fly fishing and conservation along the Guadalupe.  This year, it was back at the Lazy L & L Campground on the banks of the organizations namesake river.  GRTU is the largest TU chapter in the US boasting over 5500 members and TroutFest itself draws nearly 3000 attendees and vendors.  GRTU also stocks some beautiful rainbows (pic 1 above) and browns that make fishing this tailwater so fun!

TroutFest is one of those events that draws folks for a variety of reasons.  Some come to support GRTU via fundraising dinners, silent auctions and live auctions with their donations.  Others come to see the vendors in the giant tents and checkout the latest in gear and fishing locations.  Many come to participate in hands on casting lessons taught by certified fly casting instructors.  Featured speaker sessions are a popular draw for the event as well.  This year, the lineup of featured speakers boasted the legendary Flip Pallot, Jen Ripple of Dun Magazine, Chris Johnson (pic 2) of Living Waters Fly Fishing, Noah Parker of Land of Enchantment Guides, Duane Redford, Author of the “Fly Fisher’s Playbook” and Daniel Galhardo, founder of Tenkara USA.  We had a blast hearing all of these speakers imparting their wisdom on fishing and conservation, but the highlight was hearing Flip share a story about going to New Zealand to fish, Beware of What You Wish For.  It had people in stitches laughing as he unfolded his journey down under.  We had a great chat with Flip (pic 4) afterward talking about the opening of fishing on the Bighorn River and the work of Phil Gonzales.  As a bonus pic (pic 3), above you’ll find the top nymphs for fishing the Guadalupe provided by Chris.  Finally, one of our favorites that’s always a part of TroutFest is the screening of the Fly Fishing Film Tour films (pic 5).  This year was amazing with some of the biggest and baddest fish we’ve seen.  I’m sure ready to try tarpon on the fly now.   To top things off, the band Little Outfit provided some great music during dinners, the film festival and at other special times.

Every TU chapter around the US hosts annual fundraisers like GRTU’s TroutFest and we’ve had the pleasure during our River Ramble to visit one of these in North Georgia courtesy of Jimmy Harris at Unicoi Outfitters in Helen Georgia.   If you’re reading this and aren’t already involved in your local TU chapter, we encourage you to do so.  It’s fun, it’s rewarding and it’s critical to the ongoing support of these cold water fisheries.  There are over 400 chapters and councils across the USA.

Idaho is one of those states we’d heard a lot about, but had never fished prior to going on our River Ramble adventure.  We’d heard the legendary stories about two of the most technical rivers on the list, the Henry’s Fork of the Snake and Silver Creek.  Our good friend Tim Smith had for years tried to get us to come fish with him on the South Fork of the Snake.  All three of these famous trout streams are of course, in the Trout Unlimited’s Guide to America’s Top 100 Trout Streams book, so off we went to Idaho.

Our first stop took us over the high mountain pass between Montana and Idaho and into our campground in Picabo, ID.  Great little RV campsite but even better little store in town that served as the gas station, post office, store, great grill and a first rate fly shop to boot!  After setting up camp we drove to the Silver Creek Preserve to see where we’d be fishing the next day.  Scenery was gorgeous as sunset approached but as a bonus, we saw a bull moose munching on branches along the creek.

The next morning we met Carl Evenson, Silver Creek Outfitters, at the Silver Creek Preserve Visitors Center, got wadered up and headed down to fish Silver Creek.  Silver Creek is a meandering spring creek that is gin clear and you have to use your stealth powers to get near big fish;  they spook and run at the slightest sound or shadow on the water.  We saw some massive fish but were only able to land a few small browns and a beautiful rainbow during our day with Carl.  We did however stumble upon that bull moose again by accident.  We all jumped when we noticed him just lying on the bank about 20’ from a 2 foot brown trout lazily feeding near the same bank.   Overall, we got a “Silver Creek Schooling“.

It wasn’t only fishing that made our time on Silver Creek special.  We took a day to visit Craters of the Moon National Park.  It was spectacular and eerie at the same time.  If you’re ever passing through this area, this is a must see.  We also made a stop in the little town of Arco which has the distinction of being the first US city lit entirely by nuclear energy.   Dinner one evening in nearby Ketchum, a bustling ski town in winter and outdoor enthusiasts mecca in summer, took us to Sawtooth Brewery for some burgers and brews.

After fishing Silver Creek, we made it to the famed Henry’s Fork of the Snake River and Island Park, ID, which boasts the “longest main street” in America.  To try and paint a picture with words of what that means, imagine about 17 miles of road (US 26) running through tall evergreens and at every point along the road a feeder road comes in, leading to fishable water.  A few times when these feeder roads come in, you’ll find a gas station, and finally at one point a few gas stations and even more fly shops appear at the infamous Harriman Ranch section of the river.  One of the most famed of those fly shops is TroutHunter.

We had the pleasure of meeting up with TJ Powell, a guide for TroutHunter, and fishing the Henry’s Fork below the falls.  TJ put us on fish with great regularity and we had an awesome float.  Later, we joined our good friends, Sue Doss and Dud Lutton for dinner at the TroutHunter Lodge and then fished the river just below the dam with their dog, Solomon.  We had a blast and we can’t wait to go back again to fish with “Trouthunter TJ Powell“.

Finally, our trip took us to see Tim and fish the South Fork of the Snake.  Tim’s description of the fishery and his persistence in getting us to come fish it were spot on!  We’d driven the road that parallels the river many times before but had never gone down to the river.  When we put in with Tim and started downstream, this whole incredible vista was revealed…. beautiful bluffs, soaring eagles, runs and pools full of cutthroat trout and even this small little backwater area that was like walking into a room with air conditioning.  We had the most amazing day fishing with Tim on the “SF Snake” and will be coming back soon to fish it again.  If you’re in this area to fish, be sure to stop by the Lodge at Palisades Creek and say “hi”.

The three streams were all amazing and deserving of being in the TU Top 100 book.  However, we heard a lot of rumblings about the Teton River so we’re sure to follow up there as well on our next trip back to Idyllic Idaho.

Maine Events

By Tom Burnett

We’d been looking forward to fishing in Maine from the moment we planned our River Ramble.  We even scheduled it so we’d be in Maine during fall colors.  There were three rivers to be fished in Maine that are a part of the Trout Unlimited’s Guide to the Greatest 100 Trout Streams book:  West Branch, Penobscot; Grand Lake Stream; and Kennebec.  Looking at where these three rivers were located, we knew we were in for an adventure.

Our first stop was the West Branch of the Penobscot River.  Bob Mallard, who you’ll read about in a bit, recommended we fish with Boz…. aka… Greg “Boz” Bostater.  Greg is the owner/head guide for Maine River Guides.  When we contacted Boz and asked him about what section we’d be fishing and where we should setup the SaraLinda, without hesitation he said “Big Eddy Campground”.  We looked up the campground and realized three things;  First,  it was in a beautiful location, right on the river at a very popular fishing spot aptly named, Big Eddy, which is exactly what it was, a huge back eddy on the West Branch.  Second, we’d be dry camping.  There were no electric hookups for the SaraLinda and no dump station either, but there was potable water so we could fill the RV tank for showers, drinking water, washing dishes and toilet flushes.  Third, and something we didn’t fully comprehend until we actually drove to Big Eddy Campground, was just how scary the road was from just outside Millinocket (ME) to the campground.   It was a logging road whose primary traffic was oversized logging trucks, primarily going to and from Canada.  We found ourselves driving around 30mph, dodging both potholes and the giant trucks to get to the campground. However, once we arrived, it was absolutely perfect…. Boz was spot on in his recommendation.

We had a great time fishing with Big Eddy Boz as well as wading several spots on the river.  While the fishing wasn’t “on fire” while we were there, the temps sure were.  We had days in late September in northern Maine that exceeded 90 degrees.  We wet waded everywhere we went and relished standing in the cool waters as we fished.  Boz explained that most of the fish were hiding in the deep, cold waters of the lakes that were a part of the entire Penobscot drainage.

While the fishing wasn’t epic while we were there, our time at the Big Eddy Campground sure was.  We had so much fun cooking most of our meals on an open campfire each night and some mornings as you can see from the video above.  We hated leaving the area, again for multiple reasons.  First, we had so much fun fishing and camping here…. and second, we knew we had to drive the logging road back to Millinocket to head to our next destination, Grand Lake Stream.

Grand Lake Stream (GLS) was incredibly memorable to us for a number of reasons.  Before I share more, know that GLS is both the name of the fishery and the name of the town we stayed.  The fishery, while again wasn’t fishing well at the time we were there due to the temps, was in a beautiful small section of the river that was easily accessible.  Our lodging, since there were no campgrounds nearby, was a cabin at Canal Side Cabins, right in the town of GLS.  Our hosts, John and Mary Arcaro, made our stay and fishing so memorable.  John was our guide on the river and gave us an incredible day of fishing and fun.  John was the epitome of “It’s Not About the Fish”.  While he’s a first class, Maine Registered Fishing Guide, he’s also an awesome storyteller, jokester and host, as is his wife Mary.  Finally, one more memorable facet of our time in GLS was the Pine Tree Store, the only store in GLS.  The store provides a gathering place for everyone in GLS, locals and visitors alike.  It is a grocery, tackle shop and restaurant right at the main intersection of town, population 82.  We enjoyed breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Pine Tree Store and loved the hospitality everyone working there showed us.

Our last fishing stop in Maine took us to the Kennebec River to fish with Bob Mallard.   Bob is not only a Maine Registered Guide, but also a prolific writer of several books, Fly Fishing America magazine founder/editor and an amazingly passionate conservationist.   We learned so much from Bob about efforts to restore native fish populations, especially in Maine.  He was also kind enough to share the history of the river as we floated and fished the Kennebec, even ferrying us over at the beginning of our float to see petroglyphs carved into a large rock in the river.

We will definitely be back to fish Maine again, hoping the temperatures on our next trip are more “normal” than we encountered this time.  But again, Maine for us was not about the fish as much as it was about the experiences we shared and the people we met, making our time in Maine so memorable and why we’ll be coming back to see them as much as to fish.  Can’t wait!