Chapter 1- The Journey
My dad picked me up at my place and we left the Twin Cities at 4:00pm on Thursday July 29th. Driving through the night only stopping to sleep for a few hours we made it to Sheridan Wyoming around 11:00am Friday Morning.
Dad rarely asks me to drive and didn't on this trip so I spent most of my time surfing the internet and sleeping. I like to google things and read recent news articles about them. While reading news articles about the Bighorn Mountains I came across a mention of Shell Creek in an article by Dave Shorret.
Hearing phrases like, "off the radar" to describe a stream is like dangling a bag of fishing crack in my face. My interest was piqued. I had to find out more.
On all of our previous trips to the Bighorns our efforts had focused only on the North and South Forks of the Tongue River, Bull Creek and both Big and Little Willow Creeks. I didn't even know that Shell Creek existed. More googling would soon turn up more evidence. I found a thread on Fly Fishing North America titled, "What's the Best Productive Stream You've Ever Fished".
After picking up provisions at Wal-Mart we made our way over to Fly Shop of the Bighorns in historic downtown Sheridan. While we were there I purchased some floatant and a couple spools of tippet. There was a kid working the counter and I held up an imaginary knife and said, "Tell me everything you know about Shell Creek!". He appeared to be somewhat surprised by my tone and once he regained his composure he calmly stated that he really didn't know much about it. I figured maybe I'd do better if I acted normal for once so I asked the other middle aged guy who was manning the shop about Shell Creek. He said something about there being lots of small fish. "It's going to take a lot more than that to throw me off the trail", I thought to myself as I left the store.
Chapter 2- Date Night
When we made it to Arrowhead Lodge our room wasn't ready so we decided to go for an afternoon fish.
I felt like a real minimalist when I only brought four fly rods with me on the trip. My beloved bamboo fly rod Bambi made the cut. Ever since we've been together she's been complaining that I don't give her enough attention. I figure it's just a woman thing.
Here's Dad getting his rod ready.
It was good to be back in the Bighorns.
Chapter 3- Shell Creek Expedition
Back in 1836, Houston said to Travis, "Get some volunteers and go fortify the Alamo". We all know how that worked out. One hundred and seventy nine years later on the morning of August 1st, 2015 Jeff Rivard asked his son Eddie where he would like to go fishing that day. Eddie replied that he would like to go and check out Shell Creek Canyon.
The two of them drove around 20 miles until they found a spot where the road came close to Shell Creek.
Right away I caught a Rainbow on a small Nymph. This brought me feelings of joy.
This one might make it into my book someday. I wet waded every outing except one on this trip. If it's over 40 degrees wet wading is the way to go.
Soon I tried the Pat's Rubberlegs pattern. It worked. As usual.
Oftentimes dad will take photos of his flies while fishing. He's not just a great dad he is also an excellent fly tier.
A rough and rugged land.
We had lunch at Dirty Annies in Shell and before our evening fish we met up with some representatives of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang. A deal was negotiated where they would receive all lands west of the Big Horns and the Rivard's would retain all lands east of the Big Horns. We let them keep Mexico after they threw in Canada.
This is what it sounded like.
On the way back to Arrowhead Lodge we checked out a section of the South Fork of the Tongue near Dead Swede Campground. I caught a small Brook Trout.
Chapter 4- El Canyon
The Canyon section of the North Tongue River is one of my favorites. We don't venture down there every year but I am glad we did this year.
We navigate a maze of forest roads that get us close to the river.
Twin Buttes on one side.
I love this place.
I call this Storybook Rock.
Rainbows love the Olive Rubberlegged Bugger.
Here I am getting my fly out of the branches. Nobody's perfect. Not even me sometimes.
This 15 inch Rainbow couldn't resist it when I swung it into a deep pool. I worked hard for this fish.
The Blue Chernobyl was killer.
Old redeye couldn't resist white and black.
Chapter 5- Assault on the North Fork of the Tongue
It is important to be prepared whenever you go into battle. Every fly fisherman worth his salt would never think of leaving his nymphs behind for a day of fishing. Here is a photo of dads nymph box. I'm pretty sure he tied 95% if not all of these himself. I bought him the Tacky Fly Box for Fathers Day. I liked it so much I have since purchased three for myself.
race was on.
On my 2x Fluorocarbon the fight was short. I declared victory. He measured in at 17.5 inches. My largest fish of the trip.
Bye Bye Birdie.
The size 16 Gold Ribbed Hairs ear was my go to nymph for the trip.
Don't stop till you get enough.
Chapter 6: The Meadows
There is a section of the North Tongue that we have officially nicknamed The Meadows although it probably should be called The Willows. It is here you will have your best chance at a moose sighting as well as great fishing.
I had neglected to include deer hair in my fly tying supplies that I brought with me on the trip. After seeing how well my Maribou Muddler worked I really wished I could tie some more but I couldn't without deer hair. I invented a new streamer and named it the Maribou Pinhead. It's basically a Muddler with a head made out of thread. I caught a few fish with it but it's action suffers without the spun deer hair head.
There was another car parked next to the truck when we were done for the day. I always take a moment to admire another guys sticker collection.
Chapter 7- Brothers don't shake hands
My brother Sam arrived from Minnesota Tuesday evening. I was glad he could make it. The only thing better than two Rivards is three Rivards. Nobody would dare mess with us now.
Sam can fish.
Another nice trout.
I like to start the day with an Olive Rubberlegged Bugger.
Ross Journey fly rod. If you are looking for a cost effective seven and a half foot four weight you can't go wrong with the Journey.
Chapter 8- Final Fight
I decided to make my own version. Oh baby.
A better look at the Peanut Envy. Dad fished this until the articulated hook broke off. What a streamer!
If you would like to read past accounts of my Big Horn Mountain Adventures here are a couple links.
Thank you for reading.
Eddie Rivard Fly Fishing is now on Facebook.
Eddie Rivard Fly Fishing is now on Facebook.