Day One: St Mary
I recently had the chance to visit Glacier National Park, located in Northwest Montana. It is one of the most beautiful and incredible places I have ever been in my life. On our first day, we explored the St. Mary side of the park. This post doesn’t focus a lot on fishing, but more on the beauty that is found in Glacier National Park. On our last day in the park, I was able to fish for a couple hours, but that will come later. Based on everything that I read previous to the trip, I didn’t have very high hopes on the fishing in the park. A license is not required to fish in the park and the park hasn’t been stocked with fish in many years. We pulled in to St Mary around 4:00 PM. After getting checked in and eating dinner we headed off to the park. The first day we did a lot of sightseeing. We started with a short hike to a waterfall. The water in the park is so blue and clear. The pictures don’t really do it justice. The views are as beautiful as it gets.
After our hike we headed up to the Logan’s Pass Visitor Center. On our drive up we noticed a large group of bighorn sheep hanging out on the hillside. I had seen bighorn sheep before in Yellowstone but they were all females. These were the first bighorn males that I had ever seen and the size of their horns is a very impressive sight to behold. There were a lot more that I couldn’t get pictures of, including the largest of them all. I had only been in the park a couple hours at this point in time and fishing was far from my mind. I was already looking forward to the next day and what other sights and wildlife I’d be able to see.
Day Two: Many Glacier and Logan’s Pass
We spent spent our second day in the Many Glacier area of the park. Within the first five minutes of driving we noticed a large road block ahead. Most of the time this means that everyone is stopped and looking at some animals. In this case, it was a mother grizzly and her cub. I had never seen a grizzly in the wild so I was pretty excited. They were a little ways off but I managed to snap a few decent pictures.
After snapping a few pictures we continued driving to the trailhead. This first hike of the day was the Swift Current Lake Nature Trail. It was a relatively easy hike and my first opportunity to do a little fishing. From my reading, this was supposed to be one of the better lakes, as far as fishing goes. It was supposed to have brookies in it. I fished a while, in various spots around the lake and never even had a single hit. Never saw any fish rise at all. The fishing was terrible but fortunately the sights were wonderful.
We left the Many Glacier area of the park and headed back to the Logan Pass area to hike to the Hidden Lake Outlook. We didn’t start this hike until later in the day and there wasn’t enough time to make down to the lake. Hidden Lake is one of the places that I read about that is supposed to have half decent fishing. I spoke to a few people that were working their way back down the trail and they confirmed that the fishing had been pretty good that day. The hike up was only 1.5 miles and the scenery once again did not disappoint.
On our way back to the truck we ran in to a few more bighorns. We continued our drive down the other side of Logan Pass and headed to our hotel. On our way down we were able to see our first mountain goats of the trip. We also drove by the location of the massive landslide that happened there just over a month ago. All I have to say is I am glad I wasn’t there when that happened.
Day Three: West Glacier and Avalanche Lake
The third day of our stay in Glacier consisted of a hike to Avalanche Lake. I did a little reading about the fishing in Avalanche lake and it wasn’t looking very promising. None the less, I packed my fly rod along just in case I saw a few fish. The beginning of the trail followed Avalanche Creek and provided many great views of cascading waterfalls. As the trail went on we entered into a thick cedar forest. Eventually the cedars began to clear and the lake came into view.
I immediately began scanning the surface of the lake and was excited to see multiple fish rising. Most of the fish were not very large but I was happy to catch anything. I rigged up and tied on a small elk hair caddis. The fish were extremely skittish and line shy. I was caught off guard considering it was high mountain lake filled with fairly small trout. Most small fish are not very skittish but these ones were the exception. I had a blast the next couple of hours catching the wild little west slope cutts. No monsters were brought to hand but their beauty more than made up for it.
On the hike down I decided to throw a few casts in the creek and see if I could pull anything out. I couldn’t find any reading on the fishing in the creek but I figured it was worth a shot. It was full of great looking pools and looked too good to not hold any fish. My suspicions were right and I quickly landed a couple more little cutts. The creek must be more fertile because these fish were much thicker than the fish from the lake.
I’ve come to the conclusion that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. What other anglers wrote off as a poor quality lake, not really worth fishing, provided me with some of the most enjoyable fishing I have ever had. The fish would explode on the fly (when I didn’t line them) and put on quite the show. Although I didn’t do a lot of fishing on this vacation, my happy bucket was more than full. The most enjoyable part of the trip was being able to spend time with my family in such a beautiful part of the world. I am blessed to have a great family and times like these remind me of how blessed I really am.