One of the things that makes Montana Montana is the fact that there is so much great
trout fishing so close to wherever you happen to be. But there’s another Montana—a
Montana where the trout are a lot harder to get to and a bit more exotic than the ‘bows,
browns and cutts everyone loves so much.
After a six-mile, three-hour horse pack up a trail approaching near vertical, photographer
Dan Root, a cowboy wrangler/anglers Kurt Dehmer and Curt Ames from Big Sky’s
Lone Mountain Ranch and I found ourselves somewhere in the Gallatin National Forest
staring into one of the few lakes in the Lower 48 where you can hook an Arctic grayling.
Once you put in the bone-jarring work to get to the lake—and after that ride, I may
as well toss my tailbone, knees and hips right into the garbage—these stunning fish
are more than willing to eat just about anything put in front of them. Certainly not the
smartest thing with fins and far from the most pugnacious fighters, these sublimely
gorgeous fish—with fins streaked with the sunset red, the iconic sail fin pulsing neon
blue—more than make up for their limitations with their showy good looks.
Photos: Dan Root