Last weekend, my wife and I were at the Flying Horse estate in Hamilton, MT to participate in the 2019 Cast One for Hope, a celebration and major fundraiser for the National Casting for Recovery program.

Flying Horse and CFR Driftboat |

Cast One is limited to 34 anglers fishing out of 17 drift boats. Guides from the Bitterroot Valley volunteered their guide expertise for the day.

We arrived Friday night for a kick-off BBQ and met fellow fly fishers and other event supporters.

Flying Horse Montana |

On Saturday, we drifted the Bitterroot River. Our launch site was the Wally Crawford access point. The river had dropped quite a bit from our earlier July trip fly fishing the Bitterroot.

Bitterroot River |

To say it was a struggle catching fish is an understatement!. The National Weather Service had forecast strong north – northeasterly winds for our fishing day with gusts to 30 mph or more. We hoped the rain/snow would wait until we got off the river. The temperature had dropped from a wonderful 68 degrees on Tuesday to a high of 46 the day we fished.

But let me back up a moment.

My wife had seen images of last year’s participants fishing in shirt sleeves among the beautiful fall leaves along the Bitterroot River. Several were holding large trout. Why wouldn’t we want to participate in a CFR fundraiser and fly fishing event? So we signed up in January, full of expectations of a great time.

We left Sisters, OR for our third fly fishing road trip this year. After a couple of days fishing the Kootonai River, ID in sunshine, we arrived in Hamilton, MT to an ominous weather forecast of wind, rain, and snow. The word which stuck in my mind as described by the National Weather Service was to expect an “epic” event.

Sean O’brien of Osprey Outfitters worked hard all day to get us into trout. Here he is tying on the last fly. It was too cold for any others.

Cast One Guide - Sean |

We managed to land about a dozen fish, which included Rainbows, Cutthroat, and Whitefish. I landed all my fish on nymphs using a dry/dropper rig. Karen caught her fish with dry flies. She used a hopper, Mahogany dun, and a size 20 Baetis.

Here are some of the fish we landed.

Bitterroot Cutthroat Trout |
Bitterroot Cutthroat Closeup |

A few weeks before the event, we were surprised to learn of our selection as the image boat for 2020 promotional materials. Hannah Barron Spencer rowed our videographer, Jessica Haydahl-Richardson down the river. Jess took video and still images of our adventure all day long.

Video Team Raft |

It was a hoot having them along on our fly fishing adventure. They would trail our raft or row ahead, taking video with her long lens. Hopefully, she was able to capture great video of our casting, playing, and landing a few fish.

Shooting Video at Cast One |

Jess even launched her drone to take a little footage of us floating the river. I’m anxious to see the final product of our day!

Here is a little behind the scenes of our day.

Holding the Cutthroat properly for a nice video shot.

Bitterroot Cutthroat |

Underwater shot…

Making Video of Bitterroot Cutthroat Release |

Releasing the trout for the GoPro…

Video of Cutthroat Trout Release |

Out of the rafts and trying to stay warm while searching for rising trout in this run.

Cast One Video Team |

Did I mention how cold it was? Here I am warming my hands while Jess got out her Jetboil coffee press.

Getting Warm on Bitterroot |
Coffee on the Bitterroot |

Perhaps Jess had a little gear with her…

Video Tools of the Trade |

Even though the weather didn’t cooperate, we still had a wonderful time and caught a few fish as well.

After a cold day of fishing, we arrived back at the Flying Horse as a few snowflakes began to fall for a celebration dinner and auction.

Cast One for Hope Banquet |

It was a wonderful evening. The highlight was when a couple of women told the audience of their cancer journey and the positive impact Casting for Recovery has had on their life.

CFR is a great way to help women with breast cancer.

It’s one of the main reasons I support the cause.

My wife is a breast cancer survivor who has seen the positive impact first-hand of the retreats. In fact, she now leads the 14 person event in Southern Oregon. (You can read about the last one HERE.)

Oh, remember that weather I was talking about? This is what we woke up to the next morning.

September Snow in Bitterroot Valley |

After a snow day, this was more like it. Back to fishing!

September on Bitterroot River |

Enjoy…go fish!

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