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This vacation has been in the planning stages for a hair over a year. A lot of people have been involved making so many decisions for this trip. I thank you all for assisting me in making a lot of my decisions. I left the northerly part of the state to drive down to Jacks house on Thursday 15th. I would be loaded for bear on this trip. We would have everything covered from PFD’s, flies, spare paddles, and side arms!

We loaded the rental truck and went to sleep to wake up at 0330 to hit the road at 0415.

We headed west through Indianapolis, Indiana and then onto Peoria, Illinois. We entered Iowa (the state that would never end) at Davenport. Then we turned the truck to towards Loveland, Iowa. I have seen corn fields before, but this was a little much! Lol Onward to Sioux City and then to Sioux Falls to pick up I-90. On this leg of the trip, we were still feeling like a million bucks. Jack had made this trip a few times by himself! He’s a trooper what can I say!

We still pressed on to Belle Fourche to pick up 212. This is where our driving iron will start to wane.

I saw the B&J Convenience Store and we both were in desperate need of some sleep or at least a nap! If my memory serves me right, we had been driving for 20 hours at this point. We were joked out and story telling out. There was nothing that was going to save us from the delirious state we were in. To make this all worse it was raining hard, and all the grasshopper splats made it tough to see! For an extra layer of fun, it seems like herds of mule deer where along the sides of the road to cheer us on!

So, fun fact this rental truck gear selector was a dial! It was not on the column, and I would fight it the entire trip. We had found a place to get some rest. I was so delirious that I thought the gear selection was on the column. Jack saw this as we rolled sllloowwly forward. I looked at him and said I am so F$$%%^&! tired. I pressed the brake, and he rotated the selector dial to park. We tried to sleep and could not. I really don’t know why we switched drivers and we pressed on. It was about thirty minutes later, and Jack found a farm field entrance at like 0000 and Jack backed in. With it still raining we got about a 30-minute nap.

Jack and I used to work together and entered confined spaces together to do our work. So, we had many many stories to laugh about and shake our heads. This gave he and I hours of laughs and motivation to keep going.

We took 212 to I-90 into the Helena area. We made a small stop to say hello to a few people.

We then pressed onto the Eureka area. We arrived in the Eureka area with a total driving time of 36 hours. Kudos to Jack he is a strong driver and with my mediocre driving strength we did it safely and without incident.

Let me talk about the fly selection for this trip. I tied Chubby Chernobyl Hoppers in size 8’s and 6’s. They all looked great, but looking at what others were throwing it would have been better with 10’s and 12’s. The hopper hook I used was the good ole tried and true TMC 9395.

The soft hackles I tied up ranged in sizes 10’s and 12’s on TMC 5212’s. All the soft hackles were tied with a tungsten bead of 1/8”.

We were not due pull into Eureka until Sunday. This means Sunday would be our first fishing day. We stayed at Jack’s brothers house, and he was an amazing host! We went to bed with our bellies full and passed the bleep out.

Cloud Sky Plant Natural landscape Asphalt

Sunset right before passing out
Water Sky Plant Mountain Fluvial landforms of streams

Upper Kootenai Falls
Location: 48.455154, -115.765305

Monday 19th September

I arranged for a guided day on the Flathead River below Flathead Lake. I could of picked any other river, and with its trout numbers barely about 500 trout per mile I was not jumping for joy, but the scenery was amazing. I booked the trip through True Water Fly shop and the information can be found at https://truewatermt.com.

When booking a guide, you never know what you’re going to get ever! I was happy and ecstatic to realize our guide “Rod” was a salty guide veteran and has a great personality.

We met at the shop loaded into his truck and towed the drift boat to the put in. While I was the one who wanted to do this guide trip I did this mainly for my friend in appreciation for allowing me to have the opportunity to go on this trip. I was going to be just soaking all of it in and enjoying the day. I would land one tiny Wetslope Cutthroat Trout (Cutties), but Jack would be the hero of the day. He hooked up from the back of the boat to the front of the boat. His Cutties would range in size from 14”-17”. The fish where solid and taken on nymphs.

Cloud Sky Water Boat Watercraft


Fin Fish Ray-finned fish Seafood Salmon-like fish

Jacks' Cuthroat Trout

Tuesday 20th September

We would travel to Kintla Lake, Glacier NP and well we had every intention to canoe the lake! Side note, If you plan to see this Lake during prime time of the season, get there yesterday because although the parking areas are small and tight the views along with hikers, hand boaters, and sightseers are as thick as molasses. Then mother nature said nope not today you’re not. The winds where 5-12 knots and the lake were sporting 2–4-foot rollers with white caps. I found this so defeating I must admit. I brought my 250-grain full sinking line and my six weights. We would not be able to throw these, so we had to put our tails between our legs.

This area is as virgin as it gets the park was founded in 1910 and is as wild as it gets!

On our way to Kintla Lake we passed through the town of Polebridge. Here are some websites that explain the town well.

Polebridge, MT Travel Information

Welcome to Polebridge, Montana, the Town Without Traditional Electricity - Quirky Travel Guy

Tips for visiting Polebridge Montana, near Glacier National Park

Polebridge Mercantile & Bakery - Supplies & Food Glacier National Park

Water Sky Cloud Natural landscape Mountain

Kintla Lake, Glacier, NP, MT
Location: 48.935901, -114.345507

Wednesday 21st September

We decided to go fish the Koot and this was mainly also because of all the drought conditions everywhere else in the state and not to forget the water temps where still high in most rivers.

We concentrated on all the boulder fields we could find. I would swing flies with my custom rainshadow blank. The grain weight window for this rod is 250-375 grains. I used my 350 skagit short with a 10’ clear sinking poly leader followed by 4# test - 4 feet Seaguar mono to my fly.

I would work the boulder fields attempting to swing around the boulders and into the feeding lies. I was rewarded with two cutties and one fish that broke me off at the surface. Meanwhile Jack would hook up though out the day. The flows on the Koot were approximately 8500 cf/s and wadable near shore. The water temps here at 61 degrees not ideal but better than most in the area. The emerald color of the water was so mesmerizing.

Water Fluid Salmon-like fish Organism Underwater

Small Redband Rainbow Trout

Thursday 22nd September

This would be our trip into the interior of Glacier NP. We would travel the very very foggy Road to the Sun Road. This park and Acadia have been on my bucket list my whole life. Now I will have been to both. You need to be really dedicated when seeing either park, but Glacier takes a different level of dedication. We entered at West Glacier and began our journey. Our first stop was Lake McDonald she was surrounded by fog and stunning views. The lake was gin clear and the inclement weather kept some people away from the park this day. I knew it would be very peoplie. We pressed on and took several photos along the way. I also used Google Earth Pro (GEP) to find location where I wanted to make sure I took photos based upon the road view in GEP. We arrived at the Logan Pass Visitor centers grand parking lot. Its was not full like normal due to the inclement weather. Remember this park and its views at the vistas are at the mercy of mother nature. I took plenty of photos to further show you my point I am trying to make. We finished the amazingly stressful but beautiful foggy drive down the Road to the Sun “oddly there was no sun!”. lol

We continued onto Two Medicine Lake. I wanted to take more photos. I wanted to take photos of Painted Teppe Peak and Sinopah Mountain.

The lack of people really was nice. We did not go back to the Road to the Sun because of the fog and it had not lifted all day. We decided on the route 2 route to go back to Eureka.

Cloud Sky Water Plant Mountain

Two Medicine Lake with Tepee Peak and Sinopah Mountain
Location: 48.481881, -113.376435

Friday 23rd September

This day we would be floating the Kootenai and swimming in her on the same day! Well, here goes the good, the bad, and could have been really ugly!

We started at the dam well about 1000 yard downstream at the first put in. This float would be 7.75 river miles long. A float longer than 8 miles is in my book to long to fish all day and try and get to your takeout before sundown. There are major concerns in trying to navigate any body of water at night. I also learned about these fish in this river that they hang out in no man’s land. I mean to me there was no reason for all of these fish to be hanging out in 2 – 5 FOW (Feet of Water) with no cover except for their own camouflage and light broken water above. I took my switch rod and if perpendicular was 0 degrees, I would cast 30 degrees downstream. This would create a belly downstream and send my wet and soft hackles ripping downstream. I would fish the hang down for about two minutes. This is where my fish would come from. My range of casting would be 15 feet to 30 feet swing through these positions and take 3 to 4 paces downstream and repeat.

We fished every bubble line, eddy, slick, and other traditional holding lies.

We paddled down river and would repeat this until well mother nature got tired of us tempting fate.

Here comes the ugly part we were 3.28 miles from out take out. The trip was over halfway done.

No matter what sport of outdoor activity you participate in you must be prepared for accidents as much as you can. I have spent countless years taking safety classes from water safety, fire safety, hazardous chemicals, field medical situations, and heat related conditions. I have also had countless hours of water survival technique classes. Then there is the acceptable risk factor. I also need to add another factor my partner and I have entered several confined spaces together and trust each other with our lives.

I knew going into this that the lake canoe did not have high walls and that was a concern. I bought outriggers that would give us extra balance and buoyancy. As, you can see in the photos what I am talking about.

All our gear was lashed into the canoe except my coffee cup. We had an extra oar in the canoe lashed to the canoe. My 24”x27”x14” dry box was lashed into the canoe and secured. These two items saved us from losing the canoe. All of our rods and other gear was not lost. All of the gear was tied in by rope or lashed in with heavy Velcro straps.

My details of what lead to our titanic moment on the Kootenai River. The river was 57 degrees on this day. I ran upon a submerged rock and could not push off fast enough and the current pinned the canoe to the rock. We would get lose but not fast enough. The stern go swamped and filled up with water. As you can see in the photos.

We had on out PFD’s, wading belts and wore no cotton. This only allowed the water to get in up to our knees. In our fight or flight moment we choose to fight for each other, and my partner did not abandon me, and I did not abandon him. We were about 17 feet from river left, but it felt like a mile. We kicked out legs as hard until we drifted closer to the river bottom. My partner reached bottom and then I touched bottom.

Even though the water was that cold and due to what we wore along with the air temp of 60 ish hypothermia was not an issue yet. The risk of hypothermia waned as we emptied the canoe of water and cargo before pressing on.

We had three miles to go according to my Garmin. With a combination of portaging and canoeing we made it safely to our takeout. I have several take aways from this trip for sure!

Be safe on the water and be prepared is not my only take aways and there are many more!

We are laughing now, but only because all that we did preparing for what if worked out in our favor along with a lot of luck.

Yes, I know this was not the best choice for river fishing in Montana on a river I am not familiar with! Next time I go to Montana to fish I will have river pontoon that is rated for rivers like this.

This is where the incident happened 48°22'2.04"N 115°21'20.54"W

Marine biology Fish Terrestrial animal Salmon-like fish Close-up

Larger Redband Rainbow Trout
Saturday 24th September

So, from Fridays swim qualifier we took the day off from fishing “shocker I know”. I lost my coffee cup during the dip in the river. I set out on a mission to replace it and drive all the way back to Polebridge to take photos and to get more stickers from the mercantile. I stopped at several pull offs along the way to take photographs.

Always pay attention to your surroundings and here is an example of why. I was taking a photo of the Northfork of the Flathead River valley. I did not hear an animal scream as it was taken down, but I could hear an audible gurgling sound emitting from several yards away. This was a bear, wolf, or large cat that had taken down another smaller animal and was crushing its larynx with its mouth. I quickly got in my truck and headed out. I would imagine others would have hung out to see what it was. Not this kid no thanks I was outie!

Cloud Sky Plant Natural landscape Building

Polenbridge, MT
48.765173, -114.285735

Sunday 25th September

On this day we would leave the Eureka area and head southeasterly of Helena. We would be staying with Jacks daughter and son-in-law. These folks like Jacks brother where amazing hosts and are good folks. I did get a lot of doggy time which is important cause I miss my doggos a lot. We arrived 6 hours later and went to bed to get up and venture to the Gallatin River on Monday.

Monday 26th September

The river was running approximately at 325 cf/s @ a little over 50 degrees. This was a very green to clear river. I would not swing up some trout, but Jack and his daughter got to spend some quality time on the river together fishing.

I used the same techniques, but this was smaller water. The targets where smaller and the swings shorter. It would have been better to use a single hander and swing flies. I wanted to use my switch rod as much as I could in Montana.

Jacks’ daughter took us to the Big Mo headwaters, and we fished that for a short bit. It was nice to see and me being a survey technician it is all about the history.

Tuesday 27th September

Calamity Day

Wednesday 28th September

We awoke at 0500 and had a yummilicious breakfast cooked by Jacks daughter. We said our goodbyes and deadheaded for Devil’s Tower. We were they’re for maybe 30 minutes and then turned the truck easterly! Thirty-two hours later we would be home. The weather was 15-20 degrees higher during the day versus the last three years of recorded history. The night lows where in the normal range.

Sky Plant Natural landscape World Mountain

Devils Tower, WY
Location: 44.590315, -104.719787

I want to thank all of Jacks family for opening their homes to me and making me feel at home. I want to say I appreciate you folks greatly. Thank you for putting your lives on standby for me your generosity will never be forgotten and someday I will repay it back two-fold.

Thank you for reading and hanging in through all my grammatical errors!

Be well,


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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
i love that you got to make a trip like that and take some great pictures. congrats on the awesome trip and pic,s

if you have more pictures of the landscape please post them. I am a landscape addict. I drove through Arizona and New Mexico some time back. I was pulling over on the Interstate just to get pictures which added a couple of hrs to my trip, LO. I had them on my old computer but it crashed and burned and I lost my pictures, and haven't found a way to recover them.
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