IMG_0792 Beep, Beep, Beep…the most annoying sound in the world, the alarm, woke me at 2 AM Saturday morning.  Surely, the alarm must be malfunctioning to go off at that hour, right?  No, on the contrary it worked perfectly.  Due to Venus and Bailey’s mid-week throw down, Dustin and I could not camp at Bennett Springs this weekend.  So, we had to get up at the dreadful hour of 230 AM to head down to Bennett in time for the horn.  Once we pulled onto 291, lightening spread across the sky.  Dustin and I look at each other and realize neither one of us had checked the weather.  Rain, it just follows us wherever we go anyway, so what is the point.  Mother Nature watered us right up until we arrived at Bennett.  She had quite the good timing on Saturday.  Chilly air swept up my arms, and a shiver passed through my body as I climbed out the car.  For some reason, I did not think it was going to reach 95° as forecasted. 

After buying our day tags, prepping our fly rods, and a bathroom break Dustin and I found the water and awaited the horn.  It was quite the cool experience getting to cast right as it was sounding.  There were substantially fewer anglers this time than the last time I went.  I think this helped me relax and have a little more success.  To say I was having fun is a severe understatement.  Even though my teeth were chattering to the point of giving me a headache, I didn’t want to get out of the water.  Dustin was having some luck on his flies, and once we switched me to a John Deere, I found luck…I finally hooked my very first trout on my fly rod!  Exhilaration pulsed through my veins as I stripped my line to bring him!  Giggles erupted from next to me; Dustin found my jubilation amusing.  I landed him, Dustin snapped a photo, and then he released the ‘bow to swim another day.  I wish I could convey through words the feeling, but it is impossible.  Now, it is easy to see how people spend so many hours in the water fishing for trout. 

IMG_0793 My very first fly rod ‘bow

IMG_0791 Dustin’s first ‘bow on a fly he tied

We caught some more, Dustin having better luck than I, over the next few hours, but then the need to get warm overcame all else.  We headed to the mouth of the spring to have a little coffee and breakfast.  Wet pants legs emerged from my waders, and I cursed Bass Pro.  Knowing I needed something cheery and warm, Dustin fired up our MSR Dragonfly (oh, how we love this stove) and we had coffee in less than five minutes.  YUM!  As if enjoying a cup of joe while staring at a bubbling turquoise spring is not enough, a muskrat graced us with her presence several times.  She was in the process of moving her babies from one home to another.  Six times she scampered across the access road with a small baby in her mouth.  Very cool. 

IMG_0797 Dus trying out our new water filter…it is slow

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We headed back to the waterfall after downing some cereal.  At this point, Dustin and I decided to keep some fish.  I really had no desire, we all know how I feel about catch and release, but his mom and Grandma really wanted us to bring some home.  After all, he told me, this is a trout hatchery.  He added three to his stringer, and I caught a few more, but only put one on the stringer.  Most, I pleaded, were just too small to keep. 

About mid-afternoon, I made a truly novice mistake.  A good sized trout decided my fly looked tasty and bit into it.  I had a heck of a time getting him close to me.  He was fighting and he was heavy!  At the same time, Dustin is stripping one in as well.  I get the fish close to me and then think, well Dustin is messing with his, so I’ll just give this guy a little slack.   What an idiot move?!  Disappointment washed over me in a wave as he broke my line.  Why in the hell I didn’t just reach for my net is beyond me. It is a mistake I will not make again.    

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In the meantime, luck was finding Dustin, or he just had the fly of the moment.  A fly that he had just tied on Thursday, was really attracting the fish.  Alas, he only had one.  He was being so careful to not lose it, then a tricky trout got him too and the King Prince swam off in the ‘bow’s lip.  Luckily for us, Dustin brought his fly tying supplies with him.  We took a break from fishing for some lunch.  Dustin tied some flies right on the bank of the river.  It was a desperate situation, we needed more of those flies!  While he tied, I whipped up some barbeque chicken sandwiches.  It was a great lunch. 

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Tying and dining took us about an hour or so, and we decided to hit the water again.  About that time, the skies were churning and dark.  Rain pelted us the moment we fastened our waders.  We hopped back in the car, and waited it out.  After all, Dustin had just tied these flies so we could not just go home.  The shower passed rather quickly, and made the air cool again.  We went back to our same spot and began casting.  Finally, I had the action I came for, I caught a feisty one.  He jumped not once, but three times.  Once when i first hooked him, which was quite a ways out.  Again about midway between me and where and caught him, and then again right in front of Dustin and I.  Now, this is why I love to trout fish!  With that exciting catch, I had renewed energy and enthusiasm.  Both of us caught a few more fish, and decided it was time to call it a night. 

As if some cosmic trout force was holding us there, we wandered around the trout park and stopped to make some coffee for the drive home.  Sipping our warm beverages, we took a gander at the hatching pools.  Crated and ready to be released, the trout were swimming angrily in their confinements, while those still in the pool lined behind the crates to take a break from the current.  Lunkers were stationed in the pool right behind that pool, and wow lunkers they were.  I have never seen trout so big, except for the one I saw earlier hanging out with a peach maribou jig in his side in the no fishing zone right by the exit stairs.  What I wouldn’t give to land one of those.  Someday…

IMG_0796 He might not be huge, but he’s just fine for me!

Heading home was not as bad as we thought.  What was supposed to be a quick trip down and back, turned into an all day event.  Normally this is how it goes when we are fishing, we just can’t seem to get ourselves to stop.  Every minute spent driving, tying, and fishing was worth it.  This day was one of my best in recent memory.  It makes me all the more excited for Montana, and our next trout adventure.

All day anglers,

Dustin & Stephanie

Written by Stephanie Mullins

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