Words by René Harrop. Photos by Bonnie Harrop. Modeling by Trico Harrop.
There comes a time in each year when it can seem that the population of Last Chance, Idaho is comprised equally of humans and Labrador Retrievers.
Sharing sunrise over decoys on a crisp morning with a faithful companion is a bonding moment unlike any other for those who choose to begin their day in the close confinement of a duck blind. And in a very real sense, these are the true dog days of mountain country. But waterfowl hunting is only one of many opportunities that come with the month of October.
For fly fishers in particular, October is a month of choices when it comes to diversity of water and trout. The great challenge of any day is deciding where to fish when virtually every lake or stream in the Yellowstone region seems to beckon.
On the Henry’s Fork, for example, low flows from Island Park Reservoir make the often treacherous Box Canyon seem vastly more hospitable to a wading angler that may have only visited this distinctly rugged but beautiful stretch in a drift boat.
Just downstream, the water through Last Chance Run and the Harriman Ranch is at a level that reveals aspects that may be hidden through summer when the depth is greatest and vegetation is at peak density.
It is the revival of dry fly fishing downstream from Ashton Dam to the Fun Farm that is often most appreciated by those familiar with that section of the river. And the brown trout that become active during this period are especially impressive.
There may be no place in existence that offers a better opportunity to become acquainted with Native Yellowstone Cutthroat than Henry’s Lake, and this fabulous still water fishery is seldom more charitable than during October. And when the possibility of a giant cut-bow hybrid or a trophy size brook trout is added to the mix, the attraction just gets stronger.
Other interesting still waters like Island Park Reservoir or Sheridan Lake in Idaho or Hebgen nearby in Montana yield some of their largest residents during the cooler days of October when competition on the water is significantly reduced.
The nightmare of traveling into Yellowstone Park during the peak of tourist season is replaced by a more tranquil experience during the year’s 10th month.
Like waters outside its boundaries, National Park Rivers like the Madison, Fire Hole, and Yellowstone are in exceptional condition for anglers. And it is in October when most who live here choose to visit this wonderland of natural splendor.
While October extends for 31 days it can seem like the shortest month of the year, simply because of what lies ahead in the high country.
Winter-like conditions are a common feature especially as November approaches, and this always brings a sense of urgency to those who do not leave. Winter can be a six month season at this elevation, and a wasted October day can never be justified.
Fortunately, this month of opportunity and many choices makes it easy to maximize time spent outdoors in pursuit of the joys that dwell in this magnificent country.