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Across the wide Missouri: The conclusion

STREAMSIDE DINING on the Missouri River with delicious lunches prepared by our guides was a special treat for our Sonoma/Montana group (left to right) Me, Dottie, Andy Massie, Chad Overway, Louise Massie, Tom and Katherine Culligan. The eighth member of our group, Jeannie Montague, took the photo. Jeannie Montague/Special to the Index-Tribune

STREAMSIDE DINING on the Missouri River with delicious lunches prepared by our guides was a special treat for our Sonoma/Montana group (left to right) Me, Dottie, Andy Massie, Chad Overway, Louise Massie, Tom and Katherine Culligan. The eighth member of our group, Jeannie Montague, took the photo. Jeannie Montague/Special to the Index-Tribune

By Bill Lynch

If I could only fish one river a year, it would be the Missouri in Montana. That doesn’t mean that the other waters into which we tossed a fly last month weren’t quality trout streams. They were.  The Big Wood, Blackfoot, Clark Fork and Bitterroot each offered different challenges and rewards. Each was a delight to fish, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

The Missouri, though, is something special. For a guy who grew up fishing Sonoma Valley’s tiny little creeks, this mighty river is both intimidating and beguiling. I imagined that every riffle, bend, rock and turn held monster trout, and many did. Trout exceeding 30 pounds have been taken from its waters.

Dottie and I have agreed. We will return.

And we both agree that the company of dear friends and fishing companions like Andy and Louise Massie, Chad Overway and Jeannie Montague and Tom and Katherine Culligan, was the best part. So they must return with us.

It was terrific fun fishing, but sharing the whole experience with people in whose company we took so much pleasure was special beyond comparison.

Our third day on the Missouri, we chose to return to the same beat we fished on the first day, below Hauser Dam.

Once again, Dottie started off red-hot with four beautiful trout to the boat before I even had a nibble. As the day wore on, my luck improved. But she still caught more fish.

Lunch was a highlight. Keeping a few fish from our morning’s angling, Dan Troupe and his guide partners prepared grilled trout tacos for us. They were accompanied by some excellent wine.

Almost reluctantly, we left the comfort of our streamside dining spot to resume another great afternoon of catching trout.

In case you’re considering the Missouri River, here are a few suggestions:

Guides: Dan Troupe of Upland Angler Outfitters, 406-490-4007, dantroupe@uplandangler.

Lodging: Rivers Bend Lodge, Soren De Tienne and Cindy Bania owners. Cindy is a wonderful chef, and the meals are fabulous. 406-468-2225, riversbendlodge.net.

Restaurants: Best choice is Rivers Bend Lodge. The only other restaurant nearby is Issac’s in the town of Craig. Issac’s serves great comfort food and lots of it. Full bar.

Fly shops: Headhunters Fly Shop in Craig (the best of the three there). Top-notch service and products from truly friendly and helpful people. Mark Risler owner. 406-235-3447. Headhuntersflyshop.com.

The only downside to our entire two-week trip to Idaho and Montana occurred on the way home.

We stopped for gas in Dillon, Montana, and while I was in the bathroom, Dottie began filling the gas tank. For reasons she cannot explain, she decided to step over the gas hose to get to the back of the car, caught her toe, began to fall forward, but broke her fall by grabbing the gas hose. Unfortunately the force of her forward motion wrenched her left shoulder so bad, her left humerus broke at the rotator cuff (shoulder).

Fortunately, Barrett Hospital, Dillon’s excellent brand new health facility, was nearby. X-rays confirmed the break. Supplied with ice packs, pain meds and a secure sling, Dottie was able to tolerate the 14-hour ride home.

Her shoulder will not require surgery, but if you see her around town in a sling, you’ll know why.

She wanted me to say that she caught so many more large fish than me that she strained her shoulder and had to rest it in a sling. That tale might have worked except that she’s right handed.

She still out-fished me and we will be headed back next year for another trip across the wide Missouri.

Fishing off the Sonoma coast has been good for salmon and excellent for rock and ling cod.

Call Capt. Rick Powers, at Bodega Bay Sportfishing, for reservations on his party boat, 875-3344.

Halibut are biting in the Bay and some anglers are finding striped bass when the tides are right. Call Keith Fraser, at Loch Lomond Bait Shop, 415 456-0321, to book a bay party boat.