Regional Reports-West

Beartooth Plateau

Up on the Beartooth Plateau lies a constellation of alpine lakes southwest of Billings that hold a mix of cutthroat, rainbow and even golden trout and grayling. The area is mostly National Forest land. The best trailheads are out of Red Lodge, south of Big Timber and just outside Cooke City. Or drive the Beartooth Highway (Highway 212) and hike into Hellroaring Plateau lakes (or south into Wyoming's portion of the highland). Once you're atop the plateau, the hiking is relatively easy, across boulder fields and meadows thick with bear grass and wildflowers. Black cricket, beetle and ant fly patterns work very well. Or cast black or red-and-yellow Panther Martin spinners or smaller spoons. Bait is also legal in these alpine lakes, so take along some worms and grubs just in case. Contact: Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Billings (406-247-2940); Beartooth Plateau Outfitters, Cooke City (800-253-8545).