Photos of the Day: Cutthroats and Dogs on the North Fork of the Blackfoot

Written by: Phoebe Bean

It was slow going at first, but the hopper action heated up in the afternoon, when Phoebe hooked this big one.
Photos by Phoebe Bean

September is my favorite month of the year. Crisp, fall air signifies the beginning of vibrant splashes of reds, oranges, and yellows amidst the once-green aspens and cottonwoods, and I find it hard to imagine anything more satisfying than sitting around a warm fire, cup of cocoa in hand, after a brisk walk in the woods.

Riley fishes around some rocks as Ginger uses one to stay out of the cold water.

Since moving to Missoula, Montana a few weeks ago, I’ve been trying to take advantage of the perfect fall weather we’ve been having by getting outside as much as possible with my dog, Ginger. Although Ginger is a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon and loves to hunt, I think she must have been a fish in her previous life. That dog loves nothing more than to spend a day on the river by my side and point every trout she comes across, and I can’t help but laugh at the look of dismay she gives me if I fail to land one.

The Blackfoot system cutthroats feature glorious colors.

Over the weekend, my roommate, Riley, and her dog, Rook, joined us for a day of fishing on the North Fork of the Blackfoot River. When we got onto the water at 8:00 a.m., it was a nippy 32 degrees! Luckily, no one got too cold, and the dogs provided endless entertainment as they perched on tiny rocks trying to stay out of the water but not wanting to miss out on the action.

It’s hard not to smile when the sun is shining on a beautiful September morning on the river.

In the past, I’ve only ever fished the North Fork from a boat; it was a nice change of pace to wade this time, and I found it peaceful to pause here and there to take in the scenery. A doe and her two fawns frolicked down the river bank, eagles soared overhead looking for breakfast, and the sound of water gently tumbling down the rocks made it easy to forget about any lingering thoughts of worry or stress.

Fall colors are beginning to take hold in the valley.

The fish were on a hunger strike, apparently, as we didn’t get into any for the first few hours. Once it started warming up and the hoppers came out, though, we were in business! Gorgeous cutthroats were the name of the game, and Ginger tried many times that afternoon to forge new friendships with her prized trout.

Ginger attempts a little interspecies communication.

Even though it was slow fish-wise, the four of us piled happily into my car at the end of the day, totally content and grateful for the opportunity to spend time in a beautiful and special place. It’s back to the books for me this week, but I can’t wait to see what the next adventure will bring! Happy fishing, folks.

Riley and Rook take a break on the riverbank.

Phoebe Bean is a former intern for Orvis Adventures. Check out her website,beanstream.

It’s not a monster, but it’s a trophy all the same.

The beauty of the North Fork adds to the fishing experience.

Another beauty comes to hand, as Ginger looks on.

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