21 May 2009

Brook Trout Fishing, Elk & Other Wildlife

I drove from Butte, Montana, across the Great Divide to a favorite little valley that leads to the Big Hole River. My excuse was to catch a few trout for supper, but mostly I just wanted a day to ramble around the high, moist prairie. I parked near an old homestead that is now public land:

And which has a few extant buildings such as this great old barn:

The night had been clear and frosty, and it was still too cold to fish. I decided to hike along the old Indian road dotted with the occasional tipi ring. In addition to pieces of jasper (blood red or buttery yellow; a flint-like rock used for tools), there is petrified wood to be found:

Primarily, I was out to see what flowers were blooming (which I posted in the previous entry). Taking advantage of these early flowers was a blue butterfly--what an amazing, turquoise-like color (if anyone knows the species, please let me know):

But life is not all pretty flowers and butterflies, of course. Near a badger den, there was this partial skull (probably from a Columbia ground squirrel):

And as I was sitting in the windbreak provided by a small pine tree, I noticed gray, turd-like masses of fuzz all around me. Owl pellets, containing fur and skeletal remains of the owl's prey:

As I stood up to continue my hike, a small band of cow elk -- fearful that they might be prey -- burst from the willows below me:

Back at the ranch (i.e. the truck), I had a beer, lay down in the bed & took a nap, and waited for late afternoon to begin fishing. When I awoke, critters were all around, with pronghorn antelope on one side:

Elk on the other:

And, literally at my feet, a Columbian ground squirrel:

An hour or so later, I was on my home with supper--several fat brook trout:

Mmmm... good:

As a hiking partner Dave Carter likes to say, "What are the poor people doing today?"


Betsy from Tennessee said...

You do live a 'rich' life, Ecorover. You live in an amazing area of our country. I'd love to go there someday. Seeing Antelope and Elk is just awesome.

Bet that trout was delicious!!!!

Max said...

Great post, I miss the upper Big Hole and its tasty brookies.

Janie said...

Looks like a very successful outing. Beautiful photos. I especially like that unusual turquoise butterfly.

Anonymous said...

Looks good to me! I love the eastern woods, too, but in a short while my husband and I will be headed for northern New Mexico to retire. My field guides for that area are already getting a workout.

I will come back to see what you are looking at from time to time.

~Sheepheads said...

SWEEEEET! Nice catch. I've yet to find many brook trout around here. Mainly caught those (brookies) on Snodgrass Creek which feeds into the Greenbrier River in W.Va. where my father had a camp.

fishing guy said...

ER: What a nice trip to the high mountains, so glad you took your camera. Fresh Brook trout had to be good.

Barb said...

Great hike, refreshing nap, and fresh trout for supper - couldn't be better!

Tammie Lee said...

My goodness, you had an amazing time out there! The turquoise butterfly really got me, how pretty and seemingly rare-at least to me. Treasures treasures.

troutbirder said...

What a fun day. Brook trout are becoming quite rare around here and I miss them a lot.

Quiet Paths said...

I grew up doing stuff like that around Dillon. Thanks for bringing back lots of great memories - the trout look exactly as they should. Gosh, you know what - I still do similar things but I don't fish much anymore. Great photos.

The Crow said...

Those trout are beautiful! Lovely colors, pink dots like tiny chips of tourmaline, silver grey and midnight blue.

You live in heaven, ER!


leslie said...

Hi Eco, finally just got my fishing license the other day. Now gotta wait for the swollen rivers and creeks around here to calm a bit. I'm a 'learner' at fishing. Can't wait.

Deedee said...

An amazing place you live in. That butterfly was an amazing color-never seen anything like that.

EcoRover said...

Thanks all, it is an amazing place and I try to walk through life here as a living prayer.

Welcome back to the West, 4Winds.

Sheepheads, brookies have taken over much more on the East than on the West slope of the Divide. I'm not sure why, but am glad our native Westslope Cutthroats are hanging on!

Troutbirder, I know how you feel. Native, wild brookies were SACRED in my old haunts in the Alleghenies. It's amazing how "weedy" they are here, often displacing native salmonids.

Leslie, I'll write you a short "how to" at your blog.

Deedee, as the Judaic-Christian-Moslem god was reputed to have said at creation, "It's all good."

Sanna said...

What a wonderful part of the world you live in! Thanks for sharing. =)

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