Earlier this summer an old friend and client invited me to attend the 9th annual Catching Hawgs tournament that took place last week in Missoula. The tournament consisted of 9 teams of 2 anglers fishing two days with the guides of the Kingfisher Fly Shop, one of the many great fly shops that Missoula has to offer. I got up early on the first day and cruised I-90 for two days of fishing west of the divide, something I hadn't done in the state of Montana for 5 years.
That morning at the fly shop each guide drew a number for their team, and we were drawn by bitteroot guide Bob De Jong. The guides then drew for their chance to choose where we floated, and Bob got to pick the float he liked, Tucker to Bell on the Bitteroot. After a short amount of trash talking to the other teams, we loaded into the trucks and headed south to the Root.
Close up Westslope
The tournament rules called for every trout under 16" counting for 3 points, and 16" counting for 6 points, 17" for 7 points and so on. This was a very fun twist to a guide trip, because it motivated us to land the "3 pointers" that one might normally try to let go without much effort. This was also good because although our guide Bob absolutely worked his ass off dragging us around the Bitteroot and changing flies continuously, 3 pointers were the name of the game with a few exceptions.
Getting measured in the "Trough"
Each fish over 16" got to be put into "The Hawg Trough" a plastic slot that allowed for quick, safe measuring. After our two days, both of which saw us put a lot of 3 pointers in the boat along with a couple of fish in the trough, we were out of contention for the championship.
Although the championship was not brought home, the amount of fun had in our raft was next level. It was was great catching up with an old friend, and incredibly fun to fish on a guide trip rather than pull on the oars all day. A HUGE thanks goes out to my buddy Ric for organizing this event, inviting me along and being a great partner.