With a lack of water on the upper Big Hole, our high hopes of landing some bruiser trout faded quickly. Fish were rising on the occasion, but they were confined to a deep, slow stretch near the Squaw Creek Bridge. That water gave them plenty of time to study our flies as they passed overhead. We lost a few on black caddis, but the bite wasn’t consistent enough for us to stick around. So we high-tailed it out of Wisdom and rolled into Hamilton just in time to use the last light of the day to try and score on the main stem of the Bitterroot. Since it was Sunday, no fly shops were open for info, so we shot from the hip and ended up cashing in with tan caddis on a fast stretch of river just up the road from our motel. The rise didn’t start until around 9:30 and lasted well into dark. Mark turned this chunky brown trout at 10:00 sharp with a short roll that put his fly just a few feet from where he was standing along the bank.
If you ever find yourself in Wisdom in need of a cold brew, drop in the Antlers Saloon on Route 43. Mark and I stopped on a recommendation from the motel clerk who claimed they had the best pizza in town. Funny considering there is no other pizza parlor in Wisdom. As an East Coast pizza snob, I was skepitcal, but it wasn’t bad and it hit the spot. The atmosphere in the joint is pure Montana, with deer and elk racks layered with an inch of dust, local clientel that love to talk about everything from Woodstock to grave digging, and an old .22 rifle behind the bar that was being raffled off to raise money for the Wisdom ambulance squad. Come as you are, but don’t come looking for a quiet evening. The juke-box is loud and the stories are raunchy.–Joe Cermele