Does He Have the Fishing Gene

Fly Fishing, Planning, Lodging, Meals, and Fun
Added Date:
Wednesday, 20 Jul, 2016
Since Ethan was born, I have been hoping he would find passion in fly-fishing like I do. The idea of traveling the world and finding new fishing adventures together would be a dream come true. I waited patiently for his coordination, focus, and patience to develop enough to get him out on the water. With Ethan, I knew there would only be one opportunity to introduce him to fly-fishing, and if he was not enthralled, there would not be a second time.
Since Ethan was born, I have been hoping he would find passion in fly-fishing like I do. The idea of traveling the world and finding new fishing adventures together would be a dream come true. I waited patiently for his coordination, focus, and patience to develop enough to get him out on the water. With Ethan, I knew there would only be one opportunity to introduce him to fly-fishing, and if he was not enthralled, there would not be a second time.

Planning the Perfect Kid’s Fly Fishing Trip

As his twelfth birthday passed, he seemed ready. He had always been interested in basketball, but this year, he started having real passion for the sport. He spent countless hours, day after day playing. His focus and determination proved to me he was ready. So I set out to plan the perfect fly-fishing trip for him.

My underlying strategy was:

·      Get a guide that not only was excellent with kids, but also a great teacher
·      Make sure to plan a variety of kid friendly activities
·      Don’t fish too much or long
·      Increase the odds of catching fish

I reached out to my fishing buddy Alex who also wanted to introduce his son Spencer to fly-fishing. The boys could fish together, and play on the down times. My brother-in-law Sharrad also joined, bringing our total group to five.

Eric Shores of Red Mountain Adventures, conveniently located in Ennis MT, my favorite stomping ground, is my friend and regular guide. Eric had heard many stories about Ethan and Spencer from Alex and me while we were fishing.  I knew he would be a great first-time instructor for the boys.

We decided to book two boats - Eric taking the boys, and his wife Annie taking us. This would be the first day of fishing. Eric recommended a second day without him wade-fishing, where the boys could practice what they learned. What a great idea! Maybe Alex and I could get some fishing in ourselves. That would be a bonus.

With the guide figured out, the next step was when. Ennis has quite a few kid friendly activities during the 4th of July weekend so that seemed like a logical time. Also, there was a good chance we would see the Salmonfly hatch, a first for me. After reviewing flights and prices, we decided on 5 days of activities. Any shorter and it would be too much effort for too little time, and any longer and the boys probably would start getting bored.

Next up was planning the activities. Ethan has a real love for horses so I thought a horseback ride would be fun. I spoke with Eric and he recommended Wolfpack Outfitters. I found them easily on the web and interestingly, not only do they do horseback trips, they also paint fences. I will have to keep that in mind when I need my fence painted. I gave them a call and we discussed days available and trip details. They suggested Axolotl Lakes. I had been there my first year fly-fishing on a scouting mission when the Madison River was blown out. It was an amazing slice of heaven about 20 minutes away from Ennis. It was perfect for the kids. Too bad we couldn’t bring our fly rods and a float tube. We saw some huge cutthroats the last time we were there.

4th of July ended up being the easiest of all to plan. Because it is quite an event in Ennis, there are a series of activities to keep families busy. It starts with the parade in the morning followed with the Rodeo in the afternoon, and a quick drive to Virginia City for the fireworks. We decided to leave a day open to provide some flexibility. If we got bored, we still had Water of the Gods hot springs in Norris, or a drive out to Yellowstone Park.

Fly Fishing Trip Itinerary

·      Travel day
·      Breakfast in town
·      Horseback ride
·      Optional Water of the Gods hot springs
·      All day float trip with Red Mountain Adventures.
·      DIY wade fishing day
·      Optional Yellowstone
·      Optional Water of the Gods hot springs
·      4th of July parade at 10am
·      Spend day in Ennis
·      Rodeo at 6pm
·      Fireworks in Virginia City
·      Travel day

With the activities planned and booked, we thought it would be a good idea to do a little prep on mechanics with the boys. We took them out to the percolation ponds in Campbell. They have a great place with water and rings to practice your casting. We set out on a Saturday morning in the spring. We started with teaching them the basics of assembling and functioning a fly rod. This seemed to go over okay even though they did not appear that interested. Next we worked on casting. Alex is an excellent teacher (he taught and continues to teach me) so I let him do the honors. For the first 30 minutes or so, all went well. They listened mostly and practiced their casting. But, with no fish in the water to keep them focused, after about 30 minutes, we lost them. They were more focused on goofing off together than casting any more so we packed our gear, and left.

As I was driving home with Ethan, I remember wondering “Is he ready for Montana? I hope so.” But with everything booked, and no way of backing out, I had to hope that the combination of good planning, great environment, and an amazing guide would ensure my son had the “fishing gene.”

With our bags packed, and a touch of excitement (or was it anxiety?) in the air, we headed out to the airport to begin our trip. Ethan was in an exceptionally good mood. We had a late flight out, landing in Bozeman around 12am. By the time we picked up the rental car and drove to Ennis, it was around 2am. We were exhausted. We picked up the key, and headed to our room at the Rainbow Valley Lodge, one of my favorite places to stay in Ennis. Everyone was quickly assigned beds and immediately crashed.

Tomorrow was going to be great. (Next - Part II)
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This is a small town with a big heart, a veritable fisherman’s paradise. Located near the fish-filled Madison River, and surrounded by the waters of Ennis Lake, the Ruby River, Hebgen ... moreLake, Quake Lake, Henry’s Lake, the Big Hole River and scores of smaller streams, the town boasts what many consider the best trout fishing in the world. As well known for its wranglers as its anglers, Ennis has succeeded in maintaining the look and feel of its original, gold town roots. Warm and hospitable, the area offers a wide variety of accommodations ranging from simple campsites, rustic motels and gracious hotels, to full-service, luxury resorts. Fly shops are numerous, stocked by local experts ready to advise and assist, while guides can be booked for trips throughout the area.

Boredom is the only thing unavailable in Ennis. Throughout the summer season the city hosts a series of events, including its renowned 4th of July Celebration Parade and a genuine, old-fashioned rodeo. In August, fly-fishing luminaries from around the US, flock to Montana to compete in the Madison Fly Fishing Festival. Athletes also find their way to Ennis to compete in the city’s Madison Trifecta, two shorter races followed by a full Marathon at 9000 feet, the highest elevation run in America. For the true sportsman, October falls in with the annual Hunter’s Feed. What’s caught, typically elk, moose deer, pheasant and bobcat, gets cooked on the streets and served up to hungry spectators.

Flanked by three grand mountain ranges, The Tobacco Root, Gravelly and Madison, Ennis is scenic and entertaining – truly an authentic, fly fisher’s haven.
Fishing Waters
The Madison River is arguably one of the best trout fishing rivers in all of southwest Montana, if not the entire world! It’s certainly the most talked over, written up and frequented ... morein the state of Montana – which is considered by some the capital of fly fishing. Anglers will find plenty of great access sites to wade or float along the Madison’s banks and reservoirs (including Hebgen Lake and Ennis Lake). Rainbows, browns, cutthroats, and more abound in this majestic fishing stream.

The Madison begins its course almost twenty miles into Yellowstone National Park. Within the Park, fishing rules apply: no live bait and catch and release only. Once outside the Park the river meanders past working ranches, stately conifer forests and cottonwood lined banks, interrupted by riffles and quiet runs that contain large rainbow and trophy brown trout. Flowing alongside Yellowstone’s West entrance road, the river enters Hebgen Lake, created by Hebgen dam, until it reaches Quake Lake, a bit downstream from the dam. At this point the river is commonly called either the Upper Madison or the Lower Madison, although in fact, they are one and the same.

Upper Madison – Quake Lake to Ennis Lake
Directly below Quake Lake the river roars into 5 long miles of Class V whitewater with steep gradients and large boulders along the way. As the rapids decline, the magic begins. For the next 53 miles, often referred to as the 50 Mile Riffle, the cold river runs north and the fish jump high. Annual runs of spawning trout make their way from Hebgen Lake, rainbows in the spring and browns in the fall. Known the world over for its “hard fighting” trout, it’s not unusual to pull a 25” brown from these upper waters. In deference to the purists and fly-fishing enthusiasts, it’s wading only from Quake Lake to Lyons Bridge. Boats may be used to access the river, but if you’re going to fish, your feet must be on the riverbed. Fortunately, the Hebgen Dam releases water throughout the year, leveling its flows and relieving it of spring runoff issues and summer shrinkage.

Lower Madison – Ennis Lakes to Three Forks
A short section of the river between Ennis Dam and the power station maintains relatively low water levels and provides wonderful opportunities for wading. Past the power station the river regains its muscle and for 7 miles winds through Bear Trap Canyon. Hiking trails offer the only entry, great for those that like to walk and seek the solitude of a designated wilderness area. Floating is permitted but requires a lengthy shuttle and the ability to work through Class III-IV whitewater. Once out of the canyon the river flows in shallow riffles until it reaches Three Forks and joins the Missouri. From Warm Springs to Greycliff, the river is easily accessible for drifters and wading.
/ Boat
1 - 2 anglers
3 days
Experience the Madison River Like Never Before Learn the best spots on the Madison River with 3 great fishing days with Red Mountain Adventures. Eric Shores, with over 35 years of ... moreexperiencing guiding on the Madison River will take you down a journey of the best places to fish.

The journey starts on the Upper Madison River on a guided float trip covering about 8-11 miles of premier fly fishing water. The following day includes a recipe (location flies, and technique) on a do it yourself wade location near the fly fishing town of Ennis. The third day moves you on to where the Madison River dumps into Ennis Lake for a full float day stalking the giants.

Note: The order or location may change based on where the best spots are at the time.
On the edge of the Town of Ennis, Montana, where the sweeping Madison River Valley opens wide, you’ll find the Rainbow Valley Lodge. Warm, welcoming hosts, Ed and Jeanne Williams, ... morewill make your visit to the Old West Town of Ennis, Montana a special one. Rainbow Valley Lodge provides welcoming accommodations at an affordable price.

Make the Rainbow Valley Lodge your fly fishing headquarter as you tackle our world-class trout. Get fishing tips in our O’Dell Creek Fly Shop located in the Lodge. The Lodge caters to fly fishing on the Madison River and O’Dell Spring Creek. Partnering with Riverborn Outfitters, we offer fly fishing vacation packages.

The private waters of the O'Dell Creek are available to the discerning flyfisher for a nominal rod fee and the lodge limits rods to 4 per day. This beautiful, clear flowing tributary to the Madison River in Ennis, Montana, is a challenging and technical fishery. Meandering through meadows, the stream is a series of riffles and pools. Fish sit tight to the banks, fly presentation is very important to caught these wary trout. The scenery surrounding O’Dell Spring Creek is nothing short of spectacular. To the East, the peaks of the Madison Mountain Range soar into the sky while the gently rolling Gravelly Mountains are to the west. Water temperature in the creek on summer days only reaches as high as 65 degrees.
Welcome to Southwest Montana's finest fly fishing adventures. Blue ribbon trout water is literally steps away when you visit us in the picturesque town of Ennis, Montana. You may spend ... morethe day on our home river, the world famous Madison or drive to one of our other local rivers such as the Big Hole, Beaverhead, Ruby or the Jefferson. Whether you are a new angler or an old pro we have the expertise and patience to make your time on the water chasing wild trout a success.

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