Sunday, June 27, 2010

Rowing A Raging River

High country snowmelt continues to fuel the still ragin' Big Hole River as well as its many tributaries. This morning at Melrose it is once again above 5000 cfs, having dropped for a couple days last week to about 4500 cfs. While nothing like the 10,000 cfs plus of a couple weeks ago at this level the river is bank full and really running. For experienced rowers and geezers like me it's not so much dangerous as a helluva lot of work. But it does pose a threat for the inexperienced and any rower not paying attention is a prime candidate to pay a price. Al reported yesterday two experienced guides from another river thought they knew how to portage the Dam at Divide and didn't...A bad screw-up which luckily didn't cost any lives but did cost them a pile of expensive gear--rods, reels, flies, vests, etc., etc.--and a sunken drift boat.  

The lure of course is the annual Salmon Fly Fest and the madness it always brings no matter how high or how fast the river's risin'. The fishing so far has been anything but consistent, what with the weird weather, constantly yo-yoing river and what not...Three days ago there were bugs galore between Divide and Dead Zone...The next day bugs were scarce and the fishing for the most part sucked. Oh sure there were fish caught and several flurries when it seemed about to turn on but in the end...Pretty slow at least according to the several guides I talked.

On a slightly different track between guide trips we loaded the girls and headed to upper Big Hole valley to collect some photos to perhaps fulfill a magazine photo call. For lunch in a different spot and to get away from the skeeters now swarmin' amidst all the running and standing water on the valley floor we headed up Steel Creek past the campground turnoff and out the road above the Huntley Ranch. Very enjoyable way to spend a couple hours hiking and poking about in a spot we hadn't visited for some time. No we didn't completely dodge the skeeters but the pesky bastards were at least tolerable. At one point Annie must have had a hundred or more riding her backside...Didn't seem to phase her though even a little bit...No surprise there, eh?

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