the fishing life...
Armstrong Creek
8 or so miles south of Livingston in Paradise valley flows a fair sized stream called Armstrong spring creek.  Armstrong shares the same valley as the Yellowstone river, parallels it for a couple miles and harbors browns, rainbows and cutbows just as the Yellowstone, but that is about where the similarities stop.  The Yellowstone is a freestone river, temperamental at times and susceptible to runoff, blowouts,  and temperature flux.  While Armstrong creek is a groundwater fed constant 55ish degrees year round and experiences very little variation with respect to flow and clarity making it a go to fishery any time of the year.  Of course, this kind of reliability comes with a cost, $40 a day in the winter, $100 in the summer. 

You see, access to Armstrong Creek is gained only though private lands.  While Montana state law (along with most other states, excluding Colorado) affords fisherman and recreationists stream access once in the river up to the adjacent high-water mark, it does not guarantee  access to this point.  Armstrong creek bubbles up though private property, which is how the O’hair and De Puy ranches are able to charge fisherman for access to their right to be in the stream.  They do not own the stream, only the way in.

Regardless, because of the limited access to Armstrong spring creek, fishing is fantastic.  Armstrong owns access to 1.5 miles of stream, and while famous fisheries like the big horn, Yellowstone, and the Madison may see floatillas of recreationists during the summer months, max capacity is set to 6 on Armstrong creek meaning that in addition to access you have also paid for solitude.

We took a gamble and made reservations in advance for a day on Armstrong.  We arrived from a calm Big Sky to a blustery blowing Paradise valley.  Things were not looking good fishing wise.  I suppose one positive to take away from trying to flyfish in 35 mph gusts is that you can be sure you are the only idiots out there trying to do it.  We had the whole stream, and all of its beautiful fish to ourselves.
Big Paul and Sheila nymphing
I watched Big Paul and Sheila head out and fish some of the near by water for a bit.  They were swinging nymphs and doing their best to make me laugh and smile walking hand-in-hand.

When I finally got down to business the wind didn’t seem too big of a deal as my best attempts at casting, terrible as they were, somehow managed to land me a half dozen healthy 16-18 inch rainbows.

I met up with the folks an hour and a half later and we decided to head up stream to scout for some rising fish.  Dad found some feeding in the middle stretch below some ripples and I watched as he landed several bows on a CDC beatis dun.
Dries in the riffle
As we tried to settle in for a quick lunch we were bombarded with huge gusts of wind that made fat cold rain drops feel as though god was hucking shards of glass at us and because we had hats on to cover our faces he got wise and started throwing side arm.  Knowing that it was silly to fish in hurricane winds, we relented as the rain turned horizontal.  All in all, worse weather than we had hoped for, but better fishing than we expected, all things considered.
Big Paul looking for the rise

05/05/2011 14:35

I really like that picture of Dad. I want a copy.

03/30/2012 10:41

is before long

03/30/2012 11:41

THX for info


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