It’s that time of year again, when flights into Missoula carry a lot more rod tubes per passenger, and the Holiday Inn lobby starts looking a little more plaid and khaki – the Orvis Guide Rendezvous 2016 will kick off later this week, and it couldn’t come at a better time for those attendees who are ready to get a line wet and find some willing fish. From the top of the Blackfoot to the lower reaches of the Clark Fork, fishing is nothing short of awesome for this time of year. Really, for any time of year with the way the weather has been cooperating and the fish have been willing to play the game. Hatches are here, the fish are feisty and the weather looks…well, if it does what it looks like it will do you better have packed the sunscreen. Rain to start the week, temps in the high 70s by the weekend!? I think I’ll put the waders up. Orvis must’ve planned the weather for this one, if it holds out things are shaping up nicely for fishing and seeing the Missoula sights. If you’re visiting Missoula for the first time, or even if this is your tenth visit, here’s a few must-do things to hit up when you aren’t out there fishing.
|Great fishing around Missoula awaits OGR16 attendees this week.
Visit the Fly Shops
If you think you’re ready for the river just because you packed that one skwala fly that worked last year, think again. Hit a fly shop and get the skinny on the conditions, pick up the hot fly, and see what its like to work a fly shop in the center of the trout universe. The guys behind the counters know the ins and outs of our waterways, and nothing says you’ve been there done that like a new lucky fishing hat from a Missoula, Montana fly shop. Stop in and get right. You’ll get the best intel on the rivers you want to fish, and they might even draw you a map. These local businesses are awesome resources, and they’re stocked and ready for you. Don’t forget your fish stories.
Chow Down on Some P.I.G.
When a Missoula fly guide drops the oars and goes back to his barbecue roots, you all better be ready for some awesome ribs. Voted Missoula’s best new restaurant, which is no easy feat with so many killer dining offerings, the Notorious P.I.G. is a stone’s throw from the banks of the Clark Fork river and a must-do for bbq lovers and hungry anglers. They make a mean plate to go if you’re looking to hit the river with a hearty lunch and their deck is a great place to get down on some pork butts in between OGR presentations. Give it a shot and get some sauce on your drirelease casting shirt, it makes it a whole lot cooler.
Ride the Carousel
What, you think carousels are just for kids? Not in Missoula. We’ve got one hell of a unique ride as one of the features of Caras park, where a whole lot of the Orvis Guide Rendezvous events go down. Every horse is hand-carved and unique, and the ride is fast. Like fast, fast. It’s an amazing piece of working art and a must-see if you’re in Missoula. There’s even a bad-ass flyfishing chariot with a trout bigger than your head and a whole lot more. Don’t skip the carousel, its worth the skimpy buck you’ll pay to play.
Hike the “M”
If you’re from the west, you know plenty of towns are marked by large letters on the sides of the mountains. Technically, these are called geoglyphs and they serve as welcome signs for highway travelers among other things. But in Missoula, our big old M serves as one of the most accessible and fun short hikes in town. Easy to find, easy to hike, and a spectacular view awaits those who get to the letter. Right on the edges of the University of Montana campus, the M trail is a short walk from OGR central, all on well-marred foot trails that never cross a road, and its do-able by the young and old alike. A series of switchbacks make this half-hour jaunt a must-do for Missoula visitors. Even in boat shoes, you gotta see that view.
Watch the River Surfers
When local kayakers created Brennan’s Wave, a standing wave smack in downtown Missoula on the Clark Fork river they had no idea they would help create a burgeoning sport: river surfing. River surfing has taken off across the west, and Missoula has one of the most active scenes with daily riders whenever the surf is good. With the rivers in the conditions they are lately, and the weather on the horizon this is bound to be a busy place. Right on the edge of Caras Park and equipped with “lunch rocks” and a great viewing deck, the river surf scene is worth a chunk of your time. Seriously, it is very entertaining. Bails and flails, and lots of fun.
Missoula’s ready for you, Orvis Guide Rendezvous attendees, and there’s a whole lot more than fishing waiting for you. We’ll see you soon.