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In This Issue:

Fishing Montana’s Yellowstone Region

The Hiawatha Mountain Bike Trail

Montana River Trivia

Recipe: Red, White & Blue Salad

Featured Book

Fishing Montana’s Yellowstone Region

By Matson Rogers, owner of Angler’s West Outfitters in Emigrant, MT

View of the Beartooth Plateau from the Beartooth Highway.

Chances are that you are already familiar with the nation’s first national park, Yellowstone, but it is a place so special that its story bears repeating.  Created by Congress March 1, 1872, Yellowstone National Park is over 2.2 million acres in size and is made up by parts of three states: Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.  Almost 3 million people visit the Park annually to enjoy its natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and other flora and fauna.  And of course, there are trout.  For the fly fisherman, it is the miles and miles of streams, rivers, and lakes both in and out of the Park that provide the real draw.  The Park, Yellowstone River, the world famous Paradise Valley spring creeks, as well as numerous smaller rivers and mountain streams in the area culminate to create truly one of the most preeminent fly fishing regions in the United States.

Yellowstone National Park

Fishing in the Park commences Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend and ends the first Sunday in November each year.  Within that season, there is untold angling opportunities for five species of trout (Rainbow, Brown, Brook, Lake, and of course Yellowstone Cutthroat) as well as mountain whitefish and even grayling.  From every Park entrance, there is a river or lake with excellent fishing prospects.  Of note are some of the more infamous locations like the Firehole, Gibbon, and Madison Rivers on the western side of the Park.  Or try the Lamar, Slough, or Soda Butte as well as the Yellowstone River proper in the Northeast region of the Park.  Looking for something a bit more remote?  Consider a wilderness pack trip into the upper Lamar or paddle across Yellowstone Lake and explore where the Yellowstone River joins the lake.  One could also head to the very Southwest corner of the Park and the unique Bechler River area. 

Yellowstone River

The Yellowstone River is the longest undammed river left in the western US flowing over 700 miles from Yellowstone Park to western North Dakota.  For most anglers, the region just outside the Park’s north boundary near the town of Gardiner and down to the town of Livingston in the valley appropriately named Paradise is where thoughts of casting to rising trout are conjured.  Fishing for trout remains very good downstream of Livingston to Columbus, Montana.  There are few places more picturesque, however, than floating the Yellowstone and casting a fly in Paradise Valley.  With its high peaks virtually encircling the valley, verdant ranch land, and a river bottom lined with grand cottonwood trees, Paradise Valley is the quintessential trout angler’s dream come true. 

Fishing on the Yellowstone is a year-round adventure.  From the pre-runoff period of late March to early May and then again when the high water begins to recede and clear sometime around the 4th of July through early November is when the majority of best fishing on the Yellowstone occurs.  With excellent early season hatches of midges, mayflies, and the Mother’s Day Caddis, the early spring fishing can be incredible.  However, as eye popping as the Mother’s Day Caddis can be for the sheer mass of bugs on the river’s surface and how it brings every fish in the river to a feeding frenzy, it is extremely difficult to time perfectly as the hatch often coincides with the river “blowing out” due to warm days and melting snow.  Most anglers choose to fish the Yellowstone during the dry summer months for its notable “hopper hatch.”  The river’s bottomlands are lined with hayfields that by late July are filled with grasshoppers, crickets, and untold terrestrial bug life.  With the fairly consummate summer winds the Yellowstone experiences, this makes for some incredible fishing as the trout are well aware of the tasty meals born on the wind. 

Access to the river is excellent for both wade fishermen as well as boats.  There are numerous public access sites up and down the river along the entire length.  Picking up a Montana Gazetteer or Montana Afloat maps at one of the local fly shops will provide you all you need to find your way.  By far the best means of gaining access to some of the better water is by floating the river in a drift boat.  Don’t have one?  Intimidated by the size of the Yellowstone and not sure where or how to fish this large river? Not to worry; hiring a local guide through a reputable outfitter and spending a day (or two) with an expert goes a very long way toward making your Yellowstone experience a success.

Paradise Valley Spring Creeks

Located toward the northern end of Paradise Valley and just minutes from downtown Livingston are three world famous members of trout fishing lore.  Depuy’s, Armstrong’s, and Nelson’s spring creeks offer advanced angling experiences for large trout in ultra clear waters.  With abundant hatches of mayflies, midges, and other aquatic bugs, as well as complex currents and finicky trout, the spring creeks will test your mettle.  Landing fish here can be anything but easy most of the time.  What anglers lack in numbers of trout landed is made up (hopefully) in the rewards of what it took to approach the fish, select the proper fly pattern, make the cast, as well as hook and land the trophy.  This is where it all comes together to make a complete fly angler.

All three of these spring creeks are on private property.  However, the landowners have granted limited access on a first reserved first fish basis.  A rod fee is required to gain access along with the advance reservations.  The rod fee amount depends upon the time of year with winter season (Oct-early April) being the cheapest at $40/angler/day.  Mid season rates (April 15-June14 and again Sept 15-Oct 14) are $75/rod.  High season dates (June 15-Sept 14) are $100/rod and are often in high demand booking over a year in advance for some of the best dates.   Having a guide is not required, but first time anglers may find that booking a knowledgeable guide can go a very long ways in making the day a success.

Other Area Rivers and Mountain Streams

There are numerous tributary rivers and mountain streams that feed the Yellowstone River.  Some of the larger ones are well noted locations in their own right.  The Boulder and Stillwater drainages are excellent examples.  Big enough to float by rafts at the right water levels, these two rivers are a lot of fun.  The Boulder comes into the Yellowstone near Big Timber; the Stillwater (it’s anything but still!) comes in near Columbus.  In the immediate Paradise Valley area, Mill Creek, Big Creek, Rock Creek, and others may not be as well known but are great small streams.  One thing is for sure; these rivers can be really fun to explore and fish!  It’s not so much the fact that they have huge fish - some do (for the size of the river) while others don’t.  However, they all are willing to give up the goods for those anglers ready to put in the effort.  Stopping by a local fly shop for a map and some local insight can help make your trip a success instead of a wild goose chase.


The Hiawatha Mountain Bike Trail

Excerpted from “The Ultimate Montana Atlas & Travel Encyclopedia”

Imagine mountain biking a 15-mile historic railbed trail through cavernous train tunnels, across sky high train trestles, past sparkling mountain creeks with deer, elk, moose and endless views of the towering Bitterroots. The best part is—it’s all downhill!

Located just off I-90 on the Idaho / Montana border, The Route of the Hiawatha is a scenic section of abandoned rail-bed from the “Milwaukee Road” that the Taft Tunnel Preservation Society, Silver County, and the U.S. Forest Service have turned into a world class non-motorized trail in the area around the Montana and Idaho border. In fact, this stretch has been called one of the most breathtaking scenic stretches of railroad in the country. This adventurous 13 mile trail takes mountain bikers (and hikers) through 10 cavernous tunnels and over 7 sky high trestles. The first tunnel you pass through is the 1.8 mile long Taft Tunnel re-opened in 2001. This tunnel burrows 1.66 miles under the Idaho-Montana border

The trail is operated and maintained by the Taft Tunnel Preservation Society with fees collected from all users. A shuttle bus can transport you and your bike between trail heads.  Check their website for current fees and shuttle schedules:   www.skilookout.com/hiaw/

Getting There
Take the Taft Exit (5) and turn south. Follow the signs to the parking area. Representatives will meet you there to sell you permit and shuttle service.

The Route of the Hiawatha
In 1905, The Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway began looking for a route for their western extension over the Bitterroot Mountains. After five and a half months, exploring 930 miles, the railroad chose a route over St. Paul Pass. In laying out the route from the St. Paul Pass Tunnel the surveyors planned a line descending at a 1.7% gradient along the mountain slope. A big consideration in choosing this route was the potential for future traffic. This route down the St. Joe River offered exclusive access to huge quantities of old growth white pine and cedar timber. (Interpretive sign on trail.)

The Last Transcontinental Railroad
The Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway’s Pacific Extension survived for 71 colorful years. Racing silk trains sped along the route, and long, rumbling troop trains carried men and materiel through four wars. The Milwaukee’s famed electric locomotives hosted presidents and celebrities and showcased the streamlined Olympian Hiawatha passenger train. The Route of the Hiawatha Rail-Trail, traces the most costly and difficult to build section of the railroad from Chicago to Tacoma. Today, thousands enjoy traveling over this scenic, historic trail helping keep alive the spirit of the Milwaukee Road.

The trail follows the trains and historians trace the history along the trail. When the Milwaukee Road abandoned its route over the Bitterroot Mountains, salvage companies striped the line of all the rails, ties, signals posts and everything else of value. The small fragments left behind are the remains of one of America’s proudest railroads. From 1907 to 1911 thousands of people lived, worked and played in this secluded part of the Bitterroot Mountains. They constructed a railroad while leaving faint signs of their own passing. Today you may see archaeologists digging and sifting along the Route of the Hiawatha Trail looking for clues about people and places not found in written documents. Historical research and archaeological field work helps breathe life into the history of the Milwaukee Road years. (Interpretive sign on trail.)

The St. Paul Pass Tunnel
The Milwaukee Road faced the daunting task of drilling a tunnel 23 feet high, 16 feet wide and 1.7 miles long into Idaho. It was a damp, dark, dirty dig. After the approaches were prepared in 1906, and a faltering start in 1907, work began in earnest in 1908. East and west crews toiled around the clock in wet, miserable conditions, and at their best could tunnel 20 feet a day. A company official remembered that:

“Men were hard to keep as the work was disagreeable and hard. Several large veins of water were encountered and at times the working conditions were almost unbearable.”

It took 750 men—400 tunneling inside, 200 outside removing the dirt and rock, and 150 running the dig’s power plant yards—two and a half years to complete. The steam-driven electric power plant set up four miles away in Taft, Montana powered both ends of the dig. Compressed air provided safe, smokeless power to the giant steam shovels that loaded the blasted, broken rock into electric rail cars for removal. (Interpretive sign on trail.)


Montana River Trivia

From “Montana Trivia” by Janet Spencer, Riverbend Publishing

Click here to order Montana Trivia book

Q. How many miles of rivers and streams are there statewide?

A. 21,100, of which 13,962 miles are polluted.

Q. How many miles of rivers are officially classified as Blue Ribbon Streams because of their productivity, accessibility, and aesthetics?

A. 541 miles.

Q. Sections of what rivers receive the heaviest fishing pressure in the state?

A. Missouri, Bighorn, and Bitterroot.

Q. What river is said to be “a mile wide, an inch deep, and runs uphill”?

A. The Powder, which contributes about five percent of the water gathered by the Yellowstone River, but accounts for fifty percent of the silt; hence the name.

Q. From the source of a river to the point where it exits the state, what is the average descent in altitude for a typical Montana river?

A. Three-thousand feet.

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Recipe From
The Yellowstone National Park Cookbook

By Durrae Johanek, Riverbend Publishing

Click here to order "The Yellowstone National Park Cookbook" or view other Gift Corral Books

While this Yellowstone cookbook contains an interview of a chef and several of his recipes, it also offers dishes from such well-known park personas as the wolf project leader, a park ranger, and many others. Some recipes are pulled from inherited family cookbooks, and some come with special directions for doctoring according to personal taste. Featuring an eclectic mix of represented styles and cultures, this unique cookbook guarantees you'll find something delicious to make and someone interesting to meet on every page.

Red, White and Blue Salad

By Carolyn Wallen, Yellowstone Association Warehouse Manager

If you’ve ever visited Yellowstone, have you ever wondered who is responsible for all the educational exhibits and publications found at the park’s eight visitor centers and the Yellowstone Institute? Well, look no further than the Yellowstone Association and its warehouse manager Carolyn Wallen. Created to inspire, educate, and preserve, the Yellowstone Association carries over 750 National Park Service approved items, and Carolyn is in charge of keeping the park stocked with a full range of maps, books, games, puzzles, videos, and gift items. Although the job demands filling orders four days a week and delivering items in sun or snow, Carolyn still finds time to cook up some tasty recipes. Be sure to add this patriotic dessert to your upcoming 4th of July meal plans!

Ingredients

2 boxes red raspberry Jell-O (3-ounce size)
3 cups hot water
1 envelope plain gelatin
1 / 2 cup cold water
1 cup liquid coffee creamer
1 cup sugar
1 8-ounce package Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 / 2 cup chopped nuts
1 can blueberries with juice

Directions

Allow each layer to set before adding the next one!

First layer: One box Jell-O dissolved in 2 cups hot water. Middle layer: Dissolve gelatin in 1 / 2 cup cold water. Heat the coffee creamer and sugar without boiling. Mix into the gelatin mixture. Whip cream cheese with mixer. Add gelatin mixture. Add vanilla and nuts; mix well. Top layer: Dissolve 1 box raspberry Jell-O in 1 cup hot water. Add berries with juice. Chill until firm.


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Featured Books

The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia - Yellowstone Gateway Edition

by Michael Dougherty, Heidi Pfeil-Dougherty and Kristin Hill

Click here for price and order information and to view more Ultimate Press products

Brand new! Now Shipping! The newest offering from Ultimate Press covers the Yellowstone Gateway Region from Red Lodge to Virginia City. Now in full color, the book exceeds the reputation of Ultimate Press for providing the most comprehensive books available on areas in the Northern Rockies. The book has 184 color pages packed with maps, photos, history, attractions, dining, lodging, camping, fishing, hikes, scenic drives, and more. It also contains a complete guide (50+ pages) to touring Yellowstone National Park. Over 72 maps including highway, town and city, demographic, tours, ski areas, camping and fishing, and more. But rather than waste space telling you about the incredible amount of content in the book, visit the Ultimate Press bookstore and order a copy for yourself today or download the entire book for free!

Includes complete guide to Yellowstone National Park — Complete information on the Montana gateway area from Virginia City to Red Lodge — 73 maps: highway, city and town, tours, specialty — All restaurants — All Motels — All public campgrounds — All private campgrounds — All Forest Service cabins — Travel and relocation information — Airports — Fishery information — Lewis & Clark points of interest — Public golf courses — Museums and historical sites — Historical information — Hot springs — Hikes — Cross-Country Ski Trails — Downhill ski area information — Scenic drives and sidetrips — Ghost towns — Attractions — Adventure — Hundreds of photographs — Weather information — Information on all cities and towns — Directory of schools, churches, government offices, municipal offices, businesses and more!

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