Best American Adventures: Fly-Fish the Spring Creeks of Paradise Valley
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By Doug Schnitzspahn; Photograph by Barry Beck, Aurora Photos
According to Montana author Norman Maclean, the
only pure way to catch a trout is on a dry fly. After all, in the first
lines of his A River Runs Through It, one of MacLean’s
characters says that “all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee
were fly fishermen and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly
fisherman.” And there is no more religious experience for a dry fly
angler than catching big trout on the spring creeks of Montana’s
Paradise Valley. These slow, rich, clear waters require great art with
a fly rod, but they also pay out the greatest reward—big, fat rainbow
and brown trout.
The scenery here is straight
out of a Robert Redford movie—crystal waters licked by willows with the
crags of the Absaroka Range towering above it all. The three famed
spring creeks—Armstrong’s, DePuy’s, and Nelson’s—all have their own
quirks. But they are similar in that, even though they are less than
4.5 miles (7.2 kilometers) long, their rich waters produce the big
trout perfect for high-calories meals. For the true trout bum, it’s the
apex of the sport.
Need to Know: Some experience fly-fishing is best before you take on the holy grail. Yellowstone Angler (www.yellowstoneangler.com)
will guide you to all three creeks, starting at $425 per person. You
will need a Montana fishing license, and the owners of the creeks
recommend guides and reservations.
- Nat Geo Expeditions