Last weekend, we participated in the 2021 Cast One for Hope (Cast One) event in Hamilton, MT on the Bitterroot River. It’s one of the major fundraisers of Casting for Recovery (CfR). This year’s event was different due to Covid-19. Normally, there is fly fishing and a banquet where items are auctioned. The event was cancelled last year because of Covid-19.

Casting for Recovery Net |

We decided to attend the guided fly fishing on the Bitterroot River this year because everyone had received their vaccine. Ten local guides volunteer their day and two anglers per raft provide a donation in order to fish. We were two of 20 fly fishers.

Jenny West of Go West Outfitters was our guide this year.

Karen and John With Jenny West at Cast One on Bitterroot |

To say rivers are low in Montana and the rest of the West is an understatement. We left Montana in late July because of low flows and high-water temperatures, which is known as “hoot owl” where fishing was restricted from 2 pm through midnight. High water temperatures mean low oxygen levels for the fish, creating stress on them which could be deadly.

Returning to the Bitterroot Valley, we saw low flows, but water temperatures have lowered to 60 degrees.

Jenny suggested we get a later start to the day and hope for rising trout on dry flies. That was fine with us!

We launched at Wally Crawford access around 11 am. I was amazed at how low the river was.

Launching Raft at Cast One on Bitterroot |

Jenny spent a few minutes checking leaders and tying on the first fly of the day, a Mahogany Emerger.

Jenny West Rigging Rods |

Jenny walked the raft upstream to find deeper water before we stepped in.

Jenny West Walking Raft to First Hole at Cast One on Bitterroot |
John with Jenny West at Cast One |

Not long afterwards, we noticed trout rising. Insects weren’t really visible, and she guessed they were taking Tricos. Here she is selecting the right fly.

Jenny West Selecting Trico Fly Pattern at Cast One |

And a closeup of the fly on the end of my tippet.

Trico Fly Pattern at Cast One on Bitterroot |

It wasn’t long and trout began rising to our flies. I saw this trout move downstream and sip my fly.

John and Jenny West with Cutthroat at Cast One on Bitterroot |

And Karen casting to rising fish.

Karen Fishing at Cast One on Bitterroot |

Jenny knew the river well, directing us to cast along rocks, seams, and banks where she knew the fish lived. We rose a lot of fish, hooking and landing our share.

Cutthroat Underwater at Cast One on Bitterroot |
Bitterroot Cuttbow at Cast One on Bitterroot |

Even a double.

Bitterroot Double at Cast One |

Yes, my fish is the smaller one on top.

Remember my reference to low flows? The river gage at Bell Crossing was running around 245 cfs. We jumped out of the raft several times and I walked around shallow water by myself probably six more times. Here is Karen and Jenny making their way through a shallow riffle, hoping for some trout in the faster water.

Karen and Jenny West at Cast One Walking Raft |

We had a wonderful day on the river. Temperatures were in the low 80’s, which was quite a change from the last time we participated in 2019 when the high was 46 and winds in excess of 30 mph.

Drifting Bitterroot at Cast One with Jenny West |

Read about our last experience in my post – 2019 Cast One for Hope

If you ever find yourself planning a trip to the Bitterroot and need a guide, I highly recommend Jenny. She is knowledgeable, low key, but excitable when the fish rise to your fly!

Here is her contact Information:

Jenny West

Go West Outfitters


Why do we support CfR?

My wife Karen, aka dancingtrout, is a 14-year breast cancer survivor. She didn’t let cancer define her. She beat it and decided to give back by supporting CfR in a variety of ways, including our participation in Cast One.

She was a participant several years ago and now is the retreat leader for Southern Oregon CfR where I have been a river helper. In addition, she has been an instructor for the Northern Oregon retreat. Both of us have been river helpers too, which means spending a day with one of the participants to reinforce the fly fishing instruction they received and hopefully hook a fish.

Here are several links to previous posts about CfR:

If you’d like to support CfR in general, contact them HERE 

There is another fund raiser in a few weeks, scheduled for some time in November. I’ll be providing more information about the online auction where some of the proceeds directly support the Southern Oregon CfR retreat.

Let them know I sent you.

Enjoy…go fish, stay safe!

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  1. Hi John,

    It was so nice to see you and Karen on Friday night! I love talking with people who get as fired up as I do about fishing. I am ready to strap myself to the roof of your Sprinter van to go along on your many adventures. Thank you for writing this blog about your time at the Cast One – this year and in the past. It’s been such a fun event for the past 9 years, and Peg Miskin did an outstanding job of making it bigger and better each year. I will miss the reunion with CfR friends and all the amazing guides who have selflessly given of their time and talents to guide for the event, Jenny West being among them. I know you had a fun day with Jenny, and if you didn’t tuck your fly in close enough to the bank, or you missed one of those subtle dry fly sipping sommelier fish, she undoubtedly gave you some s**t about it. Your wife is an amazing human, and from what I hear, a damn good angler. I am so grateful to work with her, and her counterpart, Kim DeVries. Thank you for guiding for the Oregon programs and donating your incredible flies for our annual online auction each year.
    We could not carry out the CfR mission without the dedicated service of our volunteers nationwide – they are the expression of the organization’s mission and the heart and soul of our ability to make a difference in the lives of the women we serve. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

    With Sincere Gratitude,
    Jen Lofgren
    Regional Program Manager – Casting for Recovery

  2. John,
    As always it was good to seed you while you were in Hamilton, albeit too brief!
    I’ll forward my recent column to you via email, much of it dedicated to the fine work CfR has done over the years for women who need that support most.
    Also, I’ll send a fly I called Paraleptophlebia Ascending, but now call Mahogany Swimming Emerger. Of the 13 or so paraleptophlebia species that we have, some crawl out to emerge and some emerge mid-stream. Syl Nemes photographed this phenomena and we exchanged correspondence as we developed flies for that stage of the hatch.

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