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by Kris F
(Billings, MT)



This weekend’s backpacking trip was to a group of 3 lakes nestled close together around 10,200’ in Montana’s Beartooth Wilderness. I packed ultra light since it was just one night, targeting cutthroat trout with my Sawanobori 53. It was about 8 miles to where I pitched my tent, with a perfect chop on the water to make a balanced leech do it’s irresistible dance.

While setting up my minimalist camp, a mountain goat came by for an inspection. He ended up hanging around all afternoon and through the night, where he woke me up several times feeding around my tent. At first I chased the billy away, but he would just stay on the outskirts of camp, lounging in a snow bank or on the hillside. I realized it was no use as he just kept returning and just ended up letting him hang around.

I’ve been getting more proficient with my floating line and indicator set up with a Tenkara rod the last few outings. It took a little practice to develop the right balance between setting the hook quickly, but not too firmly for the light tippet since the rod tip for the Sawanobori travels a great distance with the flick of a two handed set.

My tippet did break once at a knot above my indicator where I had extended the length. I had to sit and watch the fish continue to peck at the leech below, until finally one couldn’t let go and started pulling the bright orange indicator away. I re-rigged my line as fast as a could In order to try snagging the stranded setup, but soon I watched the indicator scurry away about a foot under water as I was following it down the shoreline. I couldn’t help thinking about the scene in jaws where the shark pulled the barrels underwater. I fished a little more before dinner, still keeping an eye out for the indicator as the wind started to die down.

The next morning with the sun not yet hitting the peaks across the lake, the surface was like glass as I sat on a boulder drinking my coffee and watching the fish sipping midges. Down the shoreline to my right, I spotted what I thought was a large insect, waiting for a fish to inhale it. After watching for about a minute I got up to take a closer look. It was my lost indicator. I went back to the tent and set up the rod again. Fortunately, the indicator was within casting range and I managed to snag the line with another weighted leech and made the recovery. I was glad to have the fly back that I had tied earlier in the week, and for the reminder on how to construct my leader so the weakest link is below the indicator.

That lesson should come in handy as I pursue BIG golden trout with my flying dragon soon....

Comments for Solitude

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Jul 20, 2020
Nice tent
by: Rob

The Duplex is a nice tent.

Jul 20, 2020
by: Terry Farmer

Man, that looks like heaven. Thanks for sharing.

Jul 21, 2020
Question about Mountain Goat
by: John Evans

I'm curious about the mountain goat and know nothing about them. Did the goat hang around because hikers tend to feed them, or are they just unafraid of humans in that area and like the company? Or, maybe you were just in his spot? What do you think?

Jul 21, 2020
by: Les Albjerg

Kris -

You tempt me to change my plans for this weekend. High Desert trout stream or hike into a mountain lake? My plan is the High Desert trout stream. Beautiful country! John my experience with Mountain Goats is they are often very friendly.

Jul 21, 2020
Mountain Goat
by: Kris

John, mountain goats tend to feel secure in their environment when safety (cliffs) are nearby. Additionally, it is common for them to be attracted to where humans is believed that they are attracted to the "salt," similar to their attraction to mineral licks. Twice, the billy came into camp within minutes of urinating, going right to the spots (he was downwind of my camp).

Jul 21, 2020
Les - alpine lakes
by: Kris

It sounds like you have some great options. For me, I live just outside the 944,000 acre Absaroka-Beartooth wilderness in southern Montana, with 300+ fishable alpine lakes. I have an 8’x5’ wall map of the entire area and "pin" the lakes that I go to. Every year I have a hit list of new lakes I want to go to, as well as some repeat trips to my favorite lakes. With such a short hiking season at the higher elevations, it’s challenging to reach the more distant/difficult lakes.

I hope you have a great trip this weekend!

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“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” – Benjamin Franklin

"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." Col. Robert Venables 1662

As age slows my pace, I will become more like the heron.


The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.

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