Last Sunday was a beautiful day for floating the Stillwater River west of Billings. Few people were out, despite the nice weather, the water flow was good and around noon a small hatch of mayflies came off. Before that, Mepps and Blue Fox spinners managed to lure a few 14-inch brown trout in. For fly anglers the fish were taking a bead-headed hare’s ear nymph under an Adams in the slower side channels.
That same day on the Bighorn River a trio of anglers in a drift boat took a swim after their anchor got lodged on the bottom. Not knowing the situation, when the oarsman went to pull in the anchor he actually pulled the back of the boat into the water. Within about 30 seconds the boat was filled with water and the anglers were swimming to shore. Passersby in a jet boat cut the anchor rope and pulled the flooded boat to a sandbar where it could be bailed out.
That was one of three river stories this week emphasizing the need for caution while boating. One girl drowned when her family boated over a diversion dam on the Bitterroot River and a canoeist was trapped on a bridge abutment after the canoe hit the structure and flipped. So please be especially cautious out on the rivers and lakes.
(Written by Brett French – Outdoors Editor of the Billings Gazette; Photo: Brett French)