Yesterday dawned early as most mornings in Montana do. My son Glenn was

off in Pa so there was no patter of little feet, about size 11 now,

pounding down the hall early asking if it s time to open presents.

So I was able to sleep in till around 10 , leisurely eat breakfast,

get the wood stove going in the shop, and read .


I had decided a couple days ago to spend Christmas on the Missourri

river, as what better way to spend a holiday with friends and family

in distant places. I wasn t even planning on fishing ( tho I brought

my gear) but after getting some work done in the shop, I headed

up to the river in the mid afternoon.


Getting off at Wolf Creek, I headed down a dirt road towards the Dam

and saw a car in my favorite spot. I couldn t believe it , what other

whacko would be out on the river on Christmas day? I coolly sauntered

down , smoking the dregs of a tin of Hamborger Veermeister in an 01

Christmas pipe. The guy was just flinging and stripping , probably

using an , ughgghh, woolley bugger. He turned and I asked him if

anything was happening and he told me he was just killing time. He

knew there was nothing to be caught but was enjoying being in the

river, which was a chilly 35 degrees! We exchanged Merry

Christmases and I left him to his solitude. Even tho that was MY spot

, an excellent example of Christian charity , if I do say so myself...


I got back in the car and headed down the river stopping

occaisonally in favorite spots. In each I got out and sat awhile,

puffed on my pipe, and thought about the summer past.

I must admit , I couldn t help but look for bugs and rising fish

but the water was serene and unmarred by any large heads gobbling

helplessly floating flies.


At this point I couldn t stand it any longer. I wanted to fish ! I

didn t particularly feel like donning the arctic gear necc. to get

in the water. You need so much stuff you fell like a spaceman. A

compromise was in order and I headed down past Craig where I could

lazily sit, high and dry, up on some rock out crops . I had caught

fish, at will, nymphing at this spot all summer long, and I figured perhaps the Trout

G_ds would deliver me one Christmas fish....


Before casting I took a few moments to reflect on all the

wonderfull memories I had of this 1/4 mike stretch of the river. Above

this long slow pool is a double riffle with an island in the

middle. In July, I caught fish after fish rising to emerging Pale

Morning Duns on both sides of the island. A little further down,

Mike Cherba and I fished a backwater slew during trico time. He made

long cast after cast most times resulting in a splashy tussle

; while I watched a true master at the top of his game. In order to get

there you had to walk over the "Bridge of Death" a narrow bridge spanning

the Mo. on US 15 where tractor trailers often pinned you to a narrow

walk way speeding by at 85 mph ! Under the B of D we had some of the

best fishing all year. As two or three pods of hundreds of fish each

indiscriminately gulped floating masses of trico spinners in the

early summer mornings. Along the cliffs where I was about to fish , Josh

got his elusive Montana " Whitey".... The current runs along the

cliffs and form a backeddy where fish usually congregate. One time

while floating by with Mo. River Guide, Rad Davis, I could see the fish in there

chowing down. As we got close I told him to STOP THE BOAT,BACK ROW,BACK ROW ! He said

the current was too strong. I said DROP THE ANCHOR!, He said the

water was too deep and rocky as we floated by all those feeding

fish. Missourri River Guides sadly dropped a notch in my estimation

after that episode ... <G>


But a I nymphed down the cliff to the aforementioned back eddy, with

nary a bite; and lo and behold there were a couple fish working in

there; feeding on little tiny midges that I could just make out flying

in the air. With the sun in my eyes, and a glare on the water, I

bravely set out. On my first back cast I hooked a telephone pole

which was inconveniently sited behind me. I lost that fly. Tying up

again and moving somewhat I was able to get my fly into the back eddy

and for a couple casts tried to see it floating. On about the 5 th

cast I saw a rise nearabouts where I thought my fly might have

been. I lifted and Eureaka, my prayers were answered. He was on long

enough for me to see the telltale irridescent band that marks a

rainbow trout before slipping back into the river.....


To celebrate I lit up my Cabin pipe with some Navy Flake and waited

awhile to see if they would rise again. After 10 mins with no rises I

moved on. By this time, even tho it was getting late and a little dark

the hatch of midges was intensifying. I could see across the river

small pods feeding on top but there wasn t enough time to cross the

Bridge of Death and fish them. Working my way down towards the bridge

I saw another pod working. The sun had gone low behind the clouds

and I could now see my fly outlined on the water. I found a clear

spot to cast and immediately hooked one.


The fight was on and I played him very carefully on 6X tippet .

I was able to net a nice 17 " rainbow. The pod moved further out

after that and I was forced to move and find fish I could reach. I

saw some about 100 ft down about 30 feet out, easy pickings... Then,

an old friend came down to see me and I was afraid she d ruin

everything. She was carrying what was obviously a new Christmas gift.

A florescent orange rubber playtoy. I motioned for her to sit and

surprisingly she did and waited until I fished the next pod. Somewhat

sadly these were whitefish and I did catch a couple as the sun went

down and the wind came up and Christmas fishing was over. The black lab

was patiently waiting on top of the bank. I climbed up and spent the

next 20 mins throwing her new toy in the water for her and a golden

lab who came to join her. What a smart dog ! I had been invited to a

friends house in Craig for a Christmas dinner. Like everyone else I

ate too much good food and thoroughly enjoyed my Christmas day !