Fishing the Stillwater
Back in June I talked about one of the ways you can cool off during the summer. The Stillwater River is a great river to charter a raft and have some fun. But that is not the only thing it is good for. The river is home to some amazing trout, and catching them is a lot of fun.
There are many different spots to fish this great river; some are closer to Columbus, some near Absarokee, and some closer to the river’s headwaters near Nye. I have tried many of the spots, and I don’t see much of a difference in the fishing, just the scenery changes. Obviously the further up the river you go the smaller it will get so your fishing tactics need to change a little.
Whenever I fish I generally just use a spin rod. I have a small tackle box that has a variety of different hooks, sinkers, and lures in it. I will often start out just using a worm for simplicity. It is easy, it is effective, and I can usually get a few fish to take home for dinner. If the fish aren’t biting on worms, I will try a few different spots, after that I switch to different lures or jigs. My fishing buddy on the other hand will take his fly rod. He almost always has better luck than I do, but he is also a much better fisherman. He generally practices catch and release, while I often take a few of mine home. Either way there are a lot of great fish in this river. While you will mostly catch trout there are other fish in the river.
If fishing isn’t your thing, the area still can provide a lot of enjoyment. There are multiple trails that you can hike along, you can watch for birds and other wildlife, if it is warm out bring an inner tube and float down the river for a little ways, or just lie on the shore and catch some sun. Personally I prefer to fish while I am on the river, but that is definitely not the only thing to do.
While the fishing is almost always wonderful, there are times of the year when it not only is hard to catch fish, but it also can be dangerous. That is during the spring runoff when the water levels are higher than usual. The water rises and gets cloudy so the fish cannot see. At the same time debris runs down the river so if you do fall in there is a good chance of getting hung up. It is best to just avoid the river at that time. The rest of the summer, however, just wear some sunscreen, insect repellent, and make sure you stay away from snakes and other wildlife and you should be just fine.
To get to the Stillwater take I-90 to Columbus. Pass through Columbus as though you were on your way to Absarokee. After you cross the Yellowstone you will head up the valley and start seeing signs that say fishing access. Pick one that looks good, and try your luck. If you are unsuccessful at one, simply head to the next.
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