Western Montana fishing report: Big browns, sliced fingertips and a pair of bloody waders


A friendly PSA never hurt anyone, right?

Here it goes: Folks, crush your barbs unless you plan to harvest your catch.

I’ve known this forever as a practice to make hook removal much easier when releasing a fish.

But I’ll have you know, barbs can also wreak havoc on human flesh.

No matter how great the day seems in a given moment, misery is always waiting around the corner.

As I was enjoying a beautiful spring morning last weekend, I managed to net a personal best (not an incredibly high bar, but still exciting) brown trout I hooked on one of the first flies I learned to tie after buying a vice last winter — a red San Juan worm.

If you’ve ever tried to safely release a trout while on a solo walk-and-wade excursion, like me, you’ve probably wished you had at least one more arm on more than one occasion.

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Keeping the fish wet while simultaneously keeping my rod clear of the high water — which would have surely carried it downstream to never be seen again — I had my hands full.

And somehow I had to try

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