For a full Montana trout experience, you’ll need a 6-weight flyrod for the big rivers or a 5-weight for the smaller rivers, such as the Gallatin, and the fly you choose depends upon the depth of the water and how fast the river is flowing. (Of course, your best bet is to ask your guide or, if you’re in Bozeman—as ELYSIAN will be in May—stop by the Bozeman Family Fly Shop at 2621 West College Street, and they’ll steer you right!)
Remember, during winter run-off the trout are hungry, so you want to be ready! Before you head to the river, set up your campfire so it’s ready to light. Also ahead of time:
§ Mix dry ingredients in a 2-gallon zip-lock plastic bag: 1–1/2 cups of bread crumbs, 2 teaspoons each of dried oregano and parsley, and a ½ teaspoon of garlic salt.
§ Mix your wet ingredients in a small zip-lock bag: ½ cup of stone-ground mustard and the juice and zest of 2 medium lemons.
§ In another small zip-lock bag, pour one cup of olive oil.
§ Bring a roll of wide, heavy-duty aluminum foil with you, a roll of paper towels, and a 2-gallon zip-lock bag.
After you catch your trout and return to camp, immediately light your campfire and let it burn down to hot coals. Meanwhile, prepare your fish:
§ Turn the trout upside down and insert a small, sharp knife or short-blade fish fillet knife into the anal vent. Make a deep cut the length of the fish to its lower jaw, being careful not to go too deeply. Pull out the intestines and scrape out the bloodline that runs along the spine with the tip of your knife. Pull off the red gills and gently and quickly wash the cavity. Keep the head and tail on.
§ Roll out a length of aluminum foil, about eight inches longer than the fish.
§ Carefully dry the fish, inside and out, with a paper towel.
§ With your hands, rub olive oil around the entire fish first, and then rub the wet ingredients around the entire fish.
§ Place the fish in the 2-gallon zip-lock bag with the dry ingredients and gently rotate so the fish is fully breaded.
§ Carefully place the fish in the center of the aluminum foil. Wrap the fish by pinching the two long sides ends of the foil together first, then folding the top and bottom up together, so that no liquid can run out.
§ Place the foil directly on the campfire embers for 3 minutes on each side. Carefully open an end of the foil to test for doneness. Sop up the juices with some biscuits you’ve brought with you, along with a bottle of white wine you’ve chilled in the river. Serve and enjoy the freshest fish you’ll ever taste!
Check the area’s Rules and Regulations to be sure you’re not on a Catch and Release only stream. If you are allowed to harvest trout, know the limits: the number you can legally catch and the size/weight of the fish.