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Fly Fishing the Blackfoot River at The Resort at Paws Up

Fly Fishing the Blackfoot River at The Resort at Paws Up
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The Resort at Paws Up

“In our family there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing”

~A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean

I had no interest in fly fishing. I have never fished, it did not appeal to me. Then I fished the Blackfoot River and I became a convert, a believer, a disciple of the cutthroat.

Paws Up is located in the “golden triangle” of western trout fishing. This meant nothing to me until I was on the river. I spent almost more time with my camera in hand than my fishing pole. Luck was on my side that day and I caught my first fish. If you know anything about fly fishing you know that you cannot catch a fish by accident.  I am more proud of that fish than just about anything else I have done recently.

Before we left for Montana I wrote a post about why fishing on the Blackfoot River with his sons held so much meaning for my husband.

What you need to know:

You will need a Montana fishing license. You can buy one online ahead of time (recommended) or they can do it for you at the Wilderness Outpost. Word to the wise, lying about your age on the application is some sort of serious offense. Don’t ask.

The boats hold only two people, my husband wanted both of his older boys to fish, so against my will I donned my fishing cap and headed out with the boys.

You’ll be on the river for about 4 hours. You will meet at the Wilderness Outpost and be driven there. By the time you drive and the guides get the boat in, it’s at least 30 minutes later than the time on your itinerary.  That’s a guesstimate, make flexible dinner plans.

If you happened to catch the “Real Housewives of New York” ranch episode (I did not but saw photos) DO NOT think that is fly fishing. You will not be standing in water in waders. Also, don’t wear mascara or show up drunk. I don’t know if they were, I’m just assuming from the photos. Wear a swimsuit, surf shirt, shorts and water shoes.

You MUST WEAR SUNGLASSES. When I read sunglasses on the packing list I thought they were for sun protection, a reasonable assumption. Sunglasses are for eye protection from flying hooks. Luckily our guides had some spare glasses the boys could borrow.

The Resort at Paws Up

If you have never fished before you are in great hands. My guide has been fishing for 20 years, he taught me enough to catch a fish, he can teach you. Forget the images in your head of Brad Pitt standing knee deep in the waters winging the line around his head. It’s much more simple than that, yet very difficult. Fly fishing takes incredible concentration and patience. I should have brought some wine.

I had an epiphany while floating down the river. Men are brilliant (and so are the other flyfisherwomen who have figured this out). It was the most peaceful day of my life, better than any spa. All you could hear were birds and the rushing water, all you could see were trees and blue sky. No one asked me for anything. Nobody complained. We just fished. Martha Stewart is wrong, happiness is not found in making homemade doilies-it’s found in a fishing boat on a sunny day under the Montana sky.

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The cots is $450 per boat, each boat only holds two people. Reservations need to be made a minimum of 48 hours in advance. I would suggest no less than two weeks. Kids as young as 8 can fish, but it can be boring for them. My 11 year old loved every minute of it,  the 9 year old stayed at kids’ camp.

Wilson might not have caught anything, but he looked the part.

Our fishing excursion was not comped, I would pay the same price anytime for the incredible day we had. Tip is not included, we tipped our guides $100 each.

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