Sweet Sixteen Fishing Tournament – Montana Region First Round Winners

The Montana Region results of Firehole Ranch’s great fishing rivers tournament are in. The games went mostly as expected for the most part in 3 of the 4 games, but once again, we have an upset.

A quick recap:

#1 Henry’s Fork vs #8 Taylor’s Fork
#2 Slough Creek vs. #7 Yellowstone Lake

#3 Firehole River vs. #6 Soda Butte Creek
#4 Gallatin River vs. #5 Gardner River

Winner #1  Henry’s Fork

No surprise here as Taylor’s Fork was massively outmatched by the multitude of strengths that the Henry’s Fork brings each and every game. Taylors Fork held its water at first with its surprisingly good dry fly fishing, but soon the diversity and intensity of the hatches that the H-Fork brings overwhelmed its competitor. From here on throughout the tournament the “Fork” has deserved its highly sought after shortened nickname. All hail to the mighty “Fork”.

Winner #2  Slough Creek

A once mighty has fallen, but to a long and steady rival that has continued, year after year, to provide one of the best angling experiences that can be found. Yellowstone Lake provided moments of clarity last night, but the visual aspects of its fishery, paled in comparison to Sloughs relentless meadow water. Every twist and turn of Slough’s character, stifled the deep game of the Yellowstone Lake. Right from the opening, Slough hit the ground running with a plethora of insect hatches, and miles upon miles, of some of the most scenic water that an angler can be standing in. Throughout the thoughtful and deliberate game of the Slough has this bracket nervous!

Winner #6  Soda Butte Creek

Another water from the Northeast has made a run into the second round, beating a local favorite, but only just barely. As usual the Firehole played its usual game with a quick start of caddis and PMD’s, putting it up early. But Soda Butte dominated the middle of the game with outstanding Green Drakes, Heptagenia, Eperous, PMD’s, Beetle, and Hoppers, to set up the final quarter. Soda Butte held a big lead, but as is tradition of the Firehole, it made a run, with Baetis from downtown to tighten the game in the final seconds. The howling of wolves, some downtown Baetis of its own, and a slightly larger native born game, Soda Butte came out the upset winner with a last second buzzer beater.

Winner #4  Gallatin River

Two classic trout rivers went fin to fin in this one, but in the end the relentless and consistent game of the Gallatin held off the pesky and eclectic Gardner River. Both teams brought steadiness to the forefront, and no match-up might have better emphasized what the pure pleasure of the sport can mean to its participants. This was a throwback game, where attractors and fish where they should be, doing what they should, was put on for all to see. The Gallatin came away the winner in the end but it had the scrappiness to go the distance.

  1. Brady says:

    Love the tournament Rowan. I have to pick the Yellowstone to go the distance, especially as it has been fishing spectacularly the past few weeks.

  2. Josh Duchateau says:

    Overall winner? Seven words…LONGEST UNDAMMED RIVER IN THE UNITED STATES. 692 miles with a lake in its path. Easy decision. Although the winner is worthy, I am not particularly happy with the Quake and Hebgen match outcome. Hebgen has a lot of spruce moths too….just sayin’.

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