(Note: This entry originally appeared as part of a guest post series on www.naturalpursuitoutdoors.com.)
One of the best things about fishing the Ruby Valley is the range of options that are available. Want big, bruising browns? Want smaller, elegant brookies? Want solid, hungry rainbows? All are available within the Ruby’s diverse waters.
Among our favorite stops is Vigilante Station, and it didn’t disappoint on Sunday. We all got into nice-sized browns and I had one of my best afternoons ever thanks to a number of 14- to 18-inch browns that came to net, along with a few that were pushing 20. There were some smaller ones in the 6- to 12-inch range thrown in as well, showing off the river’s health. The other Drifters also had banner days. Almost all of the fish caught were on double-nymph rigs we’ve come to adopt as our go-to setups.
Monday was quite different on a couple of different levels. We were guided again, but this time on a section of the Ruby reached by private access.
Reaching fishable water in Montana can be tricky at times due to the state’s laws. It’s obviously illegal to trespass on private property. But if a river runs through your property and someone wants to fish it, they can do so by entering via a bridge or another public place, and then by remaining below the high-water mark.
Fishing with registered guides may give you special access to the water, but it comes at a cost. Plus, more than once we’ve been fishing with guides only to have others who are not accompanied walk by us on the bank. While that can be frustrating and could lead to some heated exchanges, if done legally, there are no repercussions.
The section of the Ruby we hit on Monday featured smaller rainbows with occasional cutthroats and even grayling brought to net via nymphing and also targeting rising fish. In fact, I’ve been after a grayling since coming to UCO two years ago and finally connected. It was a beautiful 12-incher and was even tagged behind the left cheek with a micro-identifier used by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to assist the species’ reintroduction efforts across the southwest part of the state. I also managed to net a few cutties and their bright orange slashes below the jaws, and several rainbows.
Tuesday it was back to a public stretch of water below the Ruby River Reservoir. This tailwater provides incredible scenery and an environment for the fish to grow long in length and fat on the non-stop surge of nutrients. Large rainbows and browns dominate this section of the river, and Nick also caught a cutbow, which is a cross between a cutthroat and rainbow. It was his seventh variety of fish landed during the trip: brown, rainbow, brook, cutthroat, grayling, cutbow and whitefish making up his “Montana slam.”
After our day on the water, we drove into historic Virginia City to celebrate Independence Day at the Bale of Hay Saloon – Montana’s oldest watering hole. Virginia City is a well-preserved ghost town harkening back to the 1860s when gold was discovered nearby and quickly developed into a thriving boomtown inhabited by prospectors and fortune seekers. There is still much to see and do during the summer months.
Following the fireworks, it was back to UCO to get a few hours of sleep before big days on Wednesday and Thursday – our final two days.