We recently caught up with our ambassador, Gabe Lefebvre, to hear about his late summer road trip through Montana and Wyoming in search of big browns, native cutties, and a good time. Sounds like he accomplished all three. So how much planning actually goes into a memorable fly fishing road trip with friends? Want to learn about some obvious do’s and don’ts? He’s got the scoop.
Whats the first thing that comes to mind when planning a road trip centered around fly fishing?
Have some sort of plan. While you don’t want to always be worried about following a tight schedule, it’s definitely a good idea to map out a tentative daily plan. I suggest having a rough schedule and timeline of what you want to do so you have a better chance of getting it all done. This is especially true when you have limited time, a long list of things to do, rivers to float, and fish to net.
GIVE US A LITTLE BACKGROUND…WHERE’D YOU ROAD TRIP TO? what you were chasing?
Just a couple of weeks ago my buddies and I set out for Montana and Wyoming to chase big browns and Yellowstone cutties. In short, we spent a few days DIY fishing the Gallatin River, which is located right outside of Bozeman. The fishing there turned out to be absolutely incredible. We then shot down to Yellowstone National Park in search of cutthroat. We ended up getting into some within casting distance of bison and antelope. I’ve gotta say that was pretty cool.
What’s the best way to roll?
The best piece of advice for a vehicle is to have something that can take on any terrain you plan on encountering. I don’t mean you need a lifted Wrangler with a snorkel and wench, but definitely something that can handle driving comfortably on dirt roads even if the weather conditions get nasty. If I’m renting a car, I like something that gets decent gas mileage, but won’t get stuck in a puddle. Something like a Rav-4 or an Outback. Having a truck can be cool, but if you’re looking to sleep in the car at any time, an SUV is the way to go.
How much planning and preparation went into THE TRIP?
I really started planning this trip and fine tuning details in June. During the preparation portion, I spoke with a couple of rod and reel companies that were awesome enough to hook me up with the right trout gear for an epic trip (big thank you Wade Rods and Hatch). I quickly learned that trying to plan more than two or three months in advance can be tough because most fly fishermen just aren’t programmed to plan that far ahead. With that being said, we ended up not planning a few of our floats until the day before. Each float trip we took had something different to remember, and honestly, catching fish was just a small part of it.
Key tips for a successful road trip with buddies?
Make sure to save money where you can, but don’t cheap out on things you need. Buy the necessities in bulk, such as water, granola bars, ice cold beverages. Try not to eat out for every meal on a trip. That can quickly double the price of your travel. And remember, the more money you save, the more trips you get to go on! Also, make sure you have all of the necessary licenses for the areas you’re fishing. This can get pricey, but it will be totally worth it when you hand The Man your fishing license at the boat ramp instead of him handing you a $500 ticket.
Were you able to explore untouched waters?
We did some major hiking in Yellowstone to find some untouched water. We had about a 12-mile day walking both Slough Creek and the Lamar River. Catching fish in a completely untouched landscape is unbeatable, and the park is one of the best places in the country to do so. While it has become a huge tourist destination, with a little work, you can get to water that may not have been fished in years, and catch fish that have never seen a human.
Did you sync up with guides along the way or all self discovery?
We fished with a few different locals while we were on the trip. Another huge piece of advice is to befriend some locals and offer to trade them some information on your local water too! (those trout boys love the idea of catching a 30-inch redfish on fly). The fly fishing community is made of people who are willing to help each other out. As long as you stay grounded it’s pretty easy to make friends anywhere with fellow anglers. I had the opportunity to become friends with a guy named Josh Edwards, who is a premier guide at the Yellowstone Angler. He is a straight-up fishy dude and is willing to help you understand why the fish do what they do, instead of just slapping a strike indicator on over your egg fly and hoping for the best. Thanks, man.
What’s IN STORE NEXT for A FUTURE road trip?
I want to go somewhere different. I’m thinking about renting a van in Iceland or somewhere in Central Europe. Until then, I’ll definitely be taking a fishing road trip or three to the Appalachians this fall.