Day 1. Drove from Calgary to Craig Montana and immediately hit the troutshop to arrange a shuttle. On the river by 2:00 or so. Nymphing was rather slow and didn't see too many risers. Near the end of the day we came across a nice pod of fish working the pmd hatch. Of course I didn't have the right size for the hatch (these fish are pickyand I needed a
size 18) so the large browns that kept showing their fins didn't want anything to do with me. I seen a smaller rise so I cast to the fish with a generic adams that I bought a while back and wham.....a whitefish on the fly. As you can tell, if I am talking about catching a whitedog on the fly it must have been slow. Retired to the bar after cooking dinner and met up with a real crazy cat. This fellow walks into the bar and the nice gal behind the bar asked "Which one are you? Lewis or Clark?" This guy was redneck beyond comparison. Totally decked out in buckskin from head to toe. The guy even lit his hand rolled ciggy with the spark from a piece of flint. Carried the flint in a large box right beside his leather bound bottle of whiskey. Needed a couple for the drive back to Helena. Needless to to stay of Montana roads in the dark. Then the 5 young gals at the bar who used to live in Wolf Creek performed to the song "Hollaback girls" and that was pretty crazy. I'm happily married but thought Harry might be in for an interesting evening with these Hollaback girls:)

Day 2. Hit up Grizzly Hackle fly shop in Missoula. Decide on the Clark Fork. We drove about an hour to the put in which was a HUGE grassy slope of the side of a road that looks like dead man's curve. In fact, we had to slide the drift boat down the side of a unbelievably steep embankment to get to the water. I really didn't know if we would have to let go of
the boat and hope for the best. I guess the friction with the grass and rock kept it from slipping out of our hands. Floated the Clark Fork which is a beautiful river. Managed quite a few fish between the two of us and came up to a fantastic pod of rainbows which were willing to take our dry flys. That was the best part of the day. Nice thick healthy fish. The banks along the Clark Fork are a drifters dream. I even managed to do pretty well on the oars being a beginner so Harry was able to fish quite a bit that day. Productive day and alot of fun. Now we were glad about driving all the way to Montana.

Day 3: Have you seen Without a Paddle? Arrived at Grizzly Hackle around noon. Questioned the great staff as to what might be the best area to float on the Bitterroot. They tell us an 8 hour float from point A to a place called "Steve I" or Stevensville. Get in the water and immediately realize this is going to be somewhat of a challenge for even Harry to
navigate. Lots of rapids, sweepers (downed trees) and other obstacles. I tried for a couple minutes and damn near flipped the boat so Harry decided to take over. The river eventually became wider and had somewhat less obstacles to contend with. We found a nice seam and a log jam in the same general viscinity and both Harry and I began landing a number
of nice sized rainbow and browns. Many were in the 19-20" class and thick as a brick. Some on the nymph and a couple on the dry. Harry found a big ole pod of whitefish and couldn't keep them off. I advised him there was a pill to take for the whitefish blues secretely wishing I was having as much action on the river! Then we floated for a few more hours. Starts getting dark. We see a bait fisherman and ask "How much further to Steve I - floating that is?" The fellow answers "about a half hour." We get out of the boat and start working some more runs thinking it's only another half hour before our stellar day on the Bitterroot
ends. Harry hooks into a couple more trout that shake him off and then BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMM! Some jerk lets of an Artillery Shell and I am
looking up at the mountains thinking Avalanche! Quite frankly, I have never heard anything so loud. Now I know what the troops over in Iraq have to listen to on a daily basis. How they can sell that much gunpowder to a regular citizen is beyond my comprehension. Time to get
in the boat! We float the said half hour and come across a bridge that looks like the one at Steve I (we had the common sense to check out the takeout before embarking on our adventure). By this time its dark and we cannot tell if its the takeout we are looking for. We float about 3 minutes past and decide to row back upstream along the bank to ensure it
wasn't the one. Nada. Hop back in the boat and I tell Harry to start rowing fast. We just wasted some valueable time. Pitch black by now and we cannot see 5 feet in front. Harry and I decide to continue as SteveI cannot be that far away. Time to put the life jackets on. Now I start to get a little whiney (yes I can admit it). I am scared and somewhat
confused as to how this could happen. I start thinking about the wife and new daughter. Then I hear rapids. Then I start praying. Harry advises me to remain calm. For the first time in my adult life I am somewhat concerned for my life. I put my headlamp on with fresh
batteries and this improves the vision to about 6 feet. I continue yelling...sweeper to the right, beaverdam to the left, fast water ahead! Now we have floated for one hour in the dark. We see lights ahead. Oh yes! It must be SteveI! Get closer to lights.....river takes a
bend....wilderness again. No lights. How can this be? We are about 11 hours into our float. Lights ahead again. Must be SteveI. Harry rows like a madman to get to the lights. Lights suddenly fade off into the distance. Back in the wilderness again. Suddenly the batteries in my headlamp die. Back to 5 feet of viz. Should we pull over and light a fire? Now I am getting cold but Harry is sweating because he is rowing like a madman for what has been HOURS. I am thankful he is on the oars. I look ahead "Harry! Go left!" All of a suddden BOOM! We hit a sweeper and the driftboat starts to tip. Here it is we think. To die like a
couple of fools. My 33 birthday only 2 days away. Then I recall that is the age jesus died. He was a fisherman. I start praying again. Now we have drifted in the dark for a total of 2 hours. Harry continues to navigate rapid after rapid, bend after bend. We have a little laugh
thinking about the movie "Without a Paddle." Then we see lights. I start to well up with emotion. Come on SteveI. This is freaking ridiculous! Half hour later we see a bridge. Please God let it be SteveI. Then we realize we will live another day to fish the Bow. We see the cement takeout. 2 and a half hours in floating in the pitch dark in a river neither one of us know (I had been guided on it once about 7 years ago in the daylight). We load the boat and suck back the last 3 beers in the cooler. Budweiser never tasted so good. I thank Harry for remaining so calm and getting me off the Bitterroot alive. Quite frankly the fella was amazing behind the oars. I am quite confident he can float ANY river in the daylight if he can do 21/2 hours in the dark. Moral of the story? Be better prepared? Nah. The moral of the story is NEVER, NEVER TRUST A BAIT FISHERMAN!!!

Finished the trip off with a nice drive along the Big Blackfoot. Cross the continental divide and see the sign stating the coldest temperature ever recorded in the USA. -65 i believe. Norman Maclean talks about this area in the book we all know. Hope all is well and see you on the Bow in the near future! Big Bugs!