Fish the Boulder River (That’s a Command, Not a Suggestion)
There are some places that I just cannot get enough of. The Boulder River is one of them. The entire valley is amazing. Giant mountains rise up on either side of the river giving the area a cozy sheltered feel. The river is not big and muddy like the Yellowstone, yet not puny like many of the other creeks in the area. It is just a beautiful place that draws me back time and again.
Heading up to the river you have to cut right through the middle of Big Timber. On your way from the interstate to McLeod Street you will see The Fort. Try as you might, I do not think it is possible to simply drive past The Fort. Here is your last stop for gas, snacks, and a four pack of Cold Smoke Scotch Ale, so stock up.
After passing through Big Timber, you head south toward the mountains. The entire drive follows the river, and you can watch the transition from prairie to foothills to mountains. Much of the land before the national forest is private, and the river is hard to access. So quell your fishing urges for a few more miles.
The Natural Bridge is the beginning of the national forest, however, there river is still spotted with private land. You can fish at the bridge, but further in the valley it gets even better.
Just a few miles in the buildings depart, and there are some cabins and summer camps. Most of the river is now accessible to fish, and there are several camping spots and picnic sites that provide easy access to the water. Driving by you can scope out the deep holes at the base of various rapids. Simply find a place to pull off the road so you will not be a hindrance to traffic, and get to work.
Personally I use a hook, a couple sinkers, and a worm on my line. I love the ease of throwing it in above a large underwater boulder and letting the worm drift past where a giant cutthroat trout is hanging out. The water is so clear you can usually see your bait as it lazily rolls through the water, and then as it disappears inside a fish’s mouth. Setting the hook and you are on your way to having lunch or dinner provided (meals don’t get much better than if you clean the fish out, throw a little pat of butter inside it, wrap it in tinfoil, and toss in on hot coals until it’s cooked). For those who prefer to fly fish, this river has some of the best in the area. A dry fly will help you in the shallower rolling water, while a wet fly will let you snag some of the bigger fish deeper down. With plenty of cutthroats and brook trout in the river, you are sure to take home something (keep in mind the limit is only 2 cutthroats, and 20 brook trout).
Fishing on the Boulder River is one of my favorite activities. The weather is still nice and days are still long enough (for a few more weeks) to get out there and enjoy the area (the aspen trees are turning a beautiful gold color, so now is a great time). Whether you go for the afternoon, the day, or the week, you are sure to have a great time. If you just want to go and relax on the shores of the river that is fine too. I won’t judge you.
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