Friday, October 9, 2009

Favorite River - Armstrong Spring Creek

Armstrong Spring Creek in Livingston, MT is such a lovely place. To me, what Montana offers is all in one place. First, it's running through a true Montana working ranch. O'Hair Ranch runs a herd of really good looking Angus cows (I am a cattle breeder, so I am picky and observant about cows too!). They are very friendly people too for visitng anglers. Their office is actually their boots-room. And a couple of friendly cow-dogs also welcome anglers.

There are also famous Depuy's (fished only one afternoon) and Nelson's (haven't been) spring creeks in the area but for the reason above and some tips from locals, I like Armstrong's the best. To me ranching and fly-fishing are always some of the biggest Western icons.

Then the scenary is so gourgeous along with lots of wildlife, birds, and insect hatches. I can't emphasize how lunch tastes better when eaten at the picnic tables or at the very top of the creek (where not so many people step in) on sunny days. By the way, Livingston is a nice little town and has lots of great eateries in only several miles away. So far this is the only one place that I don't pack my sandwiches on purpose!!

This cute little fawn was taking a nap on the grass in a warm sunny afternoon. I never meant to but I was sorry that I woke her up.

This was my first trout at Armstrong's. When I visited for the first time in early June 2008, I was totally green. I walked around almost all entire section without fishing. I didn't see rises or hatches either. I was not getting any actions. So I ran into Yellowstone Angler who keeps a good tab. They told me it was the time when baetis hatch was over and PMD and caddis might come off so better odds with nymphs, larvas, and scud patterns. Well, I finally netted one on a Sparkle Scud. It measured 15-inch and quite a fight with 6X tippet. I was so amazed with beauty and healthy condition of trout here. I hooked several more in that afternoon and I felt the "touch" of this water and started to enjoy.

Then this year in late April and early May, I booked three days. This time I did some homework. Though it's not a secret at all but since this post is never meant to be how-to & where-to, I keep my mouth shut about spots and flies \(*_*)/
These fighters went WHAM!! x WHAM!!

So far this is the largest rainbow I caught. I really like this over-spotted 'bows here. They are so unique.

Then this is the largest at Armstrong's and one of the best browns I ever caught. It measured 20-inch and it was so "toothy" and left some punctures on my fingers. I love this picture-perfect (or drawing) vivid red spots of browny's here too. This one has some even up on its adipose fin.

You sucker!! Actually it didn't suck but got snagged on the back. I first thought of a whitefish, which is pain the back when snagged, but this one came up effortlessly. And its skin was not coarse like whitefish but oh well.......gross

One thing I kind of don't like or understand is that visitng anglers are required Montana State license (extra cost for us) also though we are paying directly to O'Hair family to fish in their private land. I was told that it is because the fish is from the river or belongs to the state, something like that.

Also, I have to mention some bad-mannered people in this lovely place as I have noticed in my area (like Rocky Ford). O'Hair Ranch keeps a nice fishermen's hut with picnic benches and a bathroom but some people leave cigar butts, cans of beer and pop, lunch packs, etc right there on the benches. Also there's a courtesy garbage box in the bathroom to dump ONLY paper towles that the Ranch supplies. But some people dump everything they don't need. I'd like to say loudly here; please NEVER do it, not only for O'Hair people but also for the visiting anglers who love and respect this place.

I really respect and admire what O'Hair people do to keep their tradition going in this tough time. I belong to agricultural producing side too so I totally recognize how hard it is. For me, rod fee at Armstrong's is one of the best things that money can buy (summer rate is a bit too high for me, I admit!!). As said above, I enjoy a whole "Montana package" in one stop and then if what I am paying helps them preserve their land, which they open for us in public, I really feel I am making a good investment.

I am not sure yet, but I might be able to swing by Armstrong's in early November after I fish Madison and Yellowstone Park in late Oct. If I catch a few (I don't say a lot!!) of 19-inch or above in Madison, I might have reason to leave the harsh weather.......

What entices me is: winter rate at the creek and good food in Livingston!


  1. I really appreciate your commitment to western ag, and hope other anglers do the same. Agriculture/ranching promotes land stewardship, which in turn provides us with the natural resource opportunities we enjoy, including hunting, fishing and other recreational uses. We're all in this together-keep up the good work!

  2. CJ,
    Thank you for your comment. Visiting O'Hair Ranch is always more than catching trout to me. Birds singing all over, grass is green and tall, deers running anywhere, cows and calves grazing happily (they look really good for cattle breeder's eyes), etc. (BTW fishing is always great! Trout there are very hungry.)
    Yes, I hope other anglers see and appreciate the same and pack their garbages - keep up the good work to you too. S-Y