We got on the road by 3:00 and drove to a rest area between Missoula and Butte, slept for a few hours in the van, drove on before first light, and rolled into Last Chance by mid-morning. After getting our licenses and a campsite we headed for the Railroad Ranch section.
It's a beautiful thing to be gearing up for your first shot at the river. Hope runs high; optimism rules the day.
We made the ford and walked up the shoreline.
We knew we were late for the Tricos, but hoped for more than we found. There were very few bugs on the water. A few fish were up and working, but they were pleeps (the little fish that go pleep when they rise.) We wandered all over that section searching out good fish but found precious few. And we observed something we were to see every day: the big fish would come up once, twice...and then disappear.
Mark had a good fish come out from under a weed mat and go for his fly just as he was lifting it off the water to recast. He says the head came clear out of the water. That got him going, and kept him going for awhile. He worked that weed mat over pretty good but failed to raise any more fish.
So it was a day of wading and searching and going through fly boxes in hopes of finding something that might entice a reluctant fish to come up.
Eventually we decided to walk out and drive over to the Last Chance stretch to see whether there might be something happening there.
We gave it some time, but finally retreated back to camp for supper and some tactical planning around the campfire.