Been there and done it!!!
To me anywhere out of my trout fishing waters, which comprises most parts of Montana and a part of Wyoming and Idaho, is an exotic destination. Certainly someday I'd like to travel to the foreign countries and other continents and the fish for other than trout, however, there are much more to explore in North America. There are two species that I like to fish for and that are not far away from where I live. One is the Lahontan cutthroat in the Pyramid lake near Reno Nevada - fish and location are specifically defined!! Another one is steelhead in the vast Pacific Northwest. I have once been to Olympic Peninsula and fished for a few days. I have once caught a King Salmon by total accident in a Yakima River tributary (well that's another story). From Livingston, Montana, The nearest steelhead water is the Clearwater River in Idaho, the legendary B-Run (winter-run) and the home of Red Shed Fly Shop.
It had been a mild winter here in Livingston and surrounding areas. I originally scheduled the trip on the last weekend of January. However, the Rocky Mountain region was hit by a massive snowstorm (besides, I was given a cold by my family🤧). I postponed for a week yet the early part of the following week was still cold and the roads were not in great conditions. I was tracking weather and road updates from sites and social media. It turned to be a good-to-go. There was a 10-mile of snow/ice covered stretch near Missoula but the rest was just fine. Lolo Pass was a smooth glide.
Poppy and Dale are some of the nicest people in the fly-fishing world and the most knowledgeable for the Clearwater and its elusive steelhead. I had met them before at the expos and been acquainted. It's great that I was finally able to visit their shop!!
Poppy and Dale pointed me to the right directions.
From Montana, anything I learn about steelhead is a "book study", which is good enough for me to acquire gears and to tie proper flies. In fact I was well prepared in those departments. I even practiced modern Spey casting on the Yellowstone River. Now on the water, I cast and swung for my heart's content.
.............In fact it ended up that was all I did............
"Steelhead fishing is Zen".
"A fish of 1000 casts".
"Steelheading is the highest level of physical and mental practice - if not a torture".
I hadheard of those and now I was experiencing on my own........
Yes, I fished the hardest, physically and mentally, in a very while.
Perhaps I made only 973 casts during the course of 2 whole days and 1 morning.
I did have one tap at the end of my line. But realistically speaking, that would have been by a resident whitefish or cutthroat.
So did I like it? - YES!! I did real fishing in some of the most beautiful river and region. Besides, this is not Trout Fishing. Without being conceited, if fishing for trout, I can be successful even at totally new waters. Certainly, in my home areas and waters, I can even write down what to expect on each day on the calendar.
THIS IS FISHING, NOT CATCHING!!!
Do I want to go back? - ABSOLUTELY!! Clearwater, down to Lewiston, ID, is a very doable driving distance without exhausting myself. I'm familiar with all the roads in Montana and even Lolo Pass is not a too high-strung winding mountain road for me (try so called highways on the Sierra between California and Nevada!!).
The town of Orofino was a great experience and I fell in love at the first visit and stay. There are several lodges that have been favored by fishermen. My already favorite and go-to is Konkolville Motel. Their "Grub Your Steak" dinner is simply fantastic that every guest should try!!
There are many other eateries and amenities in this small town and surrounding areas that one doesn't have to sacrifice life quality and money.
Apparently I'm hungrier than steelhead..............
Again, I am not disappointed or discouraged at all. And this will not be the only trip......
Till I ever meet the elusive and mystic creature.............