Montana is an extraordinary place. And not just because it has premier trout fishing and spectacular scenery, although there is plenty of that. It is also the most fishing-centric place I've ever seen. And "fishing" in Montana-speak means fly fishing. Some things to consider if you're going:
-Don't bother packing your fly boxes. Find a local fly shop when you arrive and let the guys there clue you in on what's working. Buy plenty of the flies they recommend. Plenty.
-Finding a fly shop is not difficult since every town, no matter how small, will have a minimum of two. A "town" may be nothing more than a stop sign with 4 or 5 buildings on either side of the street. But at least two of those buildings will have the silhouette of a dry fly painted on the plate glass window out front.
-It's worth noting that even convenience stores often carry a decent selection of flies. Seriously.
-Nine times out of ten the clerk at the convenience store will ask if you've been fishing. As will your waitress at any restaurant. Maybe they themselves fish, or maybe they don't. But they at least recognize that a guy with a sunburn, bloodshot eyes, and a deep Southern drawl isn't likely there for the wildflowers, so fishing is a good bet for a point of reference. If she does fish (likely), be prepared for the follow-up questions if you allow that yes, you have been on the water. She will ask you where and what the fish were taking. It's much better to say that they were taking a #20 Indigo Child than "some itty-bitty kinda bluish fly".
-The locals are practical people and willing to barter. When we experienced a bit of car trouble (Note to Steve- "Diesel Fuel Only" literally means diesel fuel only. OK?) just outside of Ennis on Sunday, when all shops and garages were closed, we found a local mechanic willing to come out and fix the problem. His fee was two hundred bucks. And a fifth of Wild Turkey.
-I was not part of the negotiations on that, but was told later that it was the Turkey that sealed the deal.
-Liquor stores are closed on Sunday, so they won't sell you a fifth of Wild Turkey. But the local bar will.
-Speaking of local bars, if you're ever in Ennis be sure to stop at the Long Branch. It's an interesting place, and if you are polite and mind your manners, you stand a good chance of getting out alive.
-For accommodations, you could do a lot worse than Kelly Galloup's Slide Inn in Cameron. Kelly and his crew are top notch. And Three Dollar Bridge is just down the road. So is Grizzly's, a good spot for dinner after a long day on the river. Ask for the waitress called "One Fish".
Please find below the obligatory photo of a genuine Madison River rainbow trout. Enjoy your stay.