Sunset over the Missouri River – Once again, the light and conditions were near perfect to capture the sky in a mixture of orange, pink and purple. It turned the valley for just a moment into the best place on earth.

Women on the Missouri River

This photo essay illustrates a weekend in June on the Missouri River at Craig, Montana, with about 35 ladies from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah.  Headhunters Fly Shop provided great information on the river, fishing tactics and a host of experienced guides and boat rentals.

And what a fabulous weekend it was! Tornado warnings, wind, sun, plenty of fish and great times for the ladies of Spokane Women on the Fly.  Many new friendships were made and existing friendships were deepened.

SWOTF is such a great group to empower women through fly fishing. I’ve been with the group for three years, but this is the first time I’ve been able to fish with them. All levels fly-fishing abilities are welcome, which makes it a great group for brand-new fly-fishers to learn the craft.

While I’ve fly fished for more than 25 years, this was my first time fishing nymph-style on a river.  I arrived on Thursday evening to hear tales and watch video of the enormous storm that hit the river. 

Left: Heather jumping for joy at the start of our day – If you know Heather Hodson, you know that she always needs to get a photo of herself jumping, where ever she is!
Right: Silhouette – I’ve been known to lay on the ground to get a new perspective. The morning sun was directly behind Lindy, providing a great silhouette of her gearing up for the day.

All levels fly-fishing abilities are welcome, which makes it a great group for brand-new fly-fishers to learn the craft.

Wolf Creek Bridge – Wolf Creek Bridge crosses the Missouri River about three miles downstream from Holter Dam. The bridge supports caught the last rays of the golden sunset.

Most of the boats on the river got off fast or took shelter under bridges, which provided a safe place to ride out the storm.  Friday morning blew in sunny skies with a steady wind.  The wind lasted most of the day, but didn’t stop anyone from getting a full, productive day on the river.  I fished the day with guide, Whitney Gould, and Heather Hodson, Spokane Women On The Fly (SWOTF) founder. 

We hit many, many fish and landed a good percentage.  Saturday and Sunday I fished with my good friends Lindy and David.  We all caught fish, although not a ton.  However, as most anglers know, spirits are quite usually high no matter the fish count when in such a beautiful place fly fishing with friends. 

Bridget Mayfield

Antelope – each night after dinner I wandered up and down the river looking for photo opportunities. This antelope stayed still just long enough for me to snap a quick picture. Then he was off.
Left Top: Kim and Tiffany gearing up for the day – Kim and Tiffany are all smiles and waves as they get their gear loaded up for the day.
Left Bottom: Lindy & Danielle gearing up for the day – Lindy and Danielle wait patiently for David (Lindy’s husband) to finish running shuttle. This was Danielle’s first trip to the Mo. Lindy was co-coordinator of the weekend, making sure new flyfishers were matched with mentors and that everyone had a good selection of flies. Headhunters Fly Shop coordinated guides, boats and much needed information.
Right: Lindy and Brian – On Saturday, I had the pleasure of fishing with my good friends Lindy and Brian. Brian was an awesome oarsman. In this photo, Lindy is searching for her second fish in the run.
Morning on the Missouri – Sunday morning I again met up with Lindy and Brian for a half-day float. The calm water allowed for a perfect reflection.
Left: Whitney Gould on the oars – Whitney was Heather and my guide for the day. It was an extremely windy day, which made both rowing and casting extra work. The clouds looked like they were working themselves into a storm.
Right: Whitney searching for the right fly – Whitney’s box is full of every fly you could possibly need to fish the Missouri River…how to decide?
Bridget releasing rainbow – As I had tied about a hundred flies for the trip, Whitney decided to let me use a San Juan Worm, even though she had never had luck with the fly. I ended up fishing with it all day and helped Whitney have faith in the fly! Photo credit to Whitney Gould
Return – Heather releases another example of the powerful Missouri River rainbow trout. This one had the brightest pink cheeks I’ve seen on a trout.
Carol & Julie with guide checking on how the day is going – mid-day we met up with Carol, Julie and their guide to check in on how the day was progressing and to make plans to meet up again at lunch. Everyone had caught a fish or two, and was now taking a break from casting in the wind. Just below this spot was a herd of bighorn sheep grazing by the river.
SWOTF group photo – members, friends and guides of Spokane Women on the Fly met each evening for a potluck dinner. Here, they gather at Sutton Cabin to celebrate a great day on the water.
Release – the Missouri River Valley has the most amazing light, and the rainbow trout are covered from head to tail with distinct spots. Here, Heather releases a gorgeous rainbow.

Contributed By

Bridget Mayfield

My motto is ‘do what you love, love what you do’. Expressing my creativity is one way I tangibly bring this motto to life. My creative outlets include pottery, up-scaling rusty junk into welded art pieces and photography. In addition to being a wedding, portrait and art photographer, I’m a full-time software programmer for a higher education software and consulting company. I’m the mother of a photogenic and patient seventh grade daughter and wife to a very supportive man.  My family lives on a lake near Cheney, Washington….close to nature and close to town too. 
 
I’m also a member of Spokane Women on the Fly, a group of women dedicated to sharing the joys of fly fishing with other women in the area. You will often find me out on rivers and lakes throughout the region searching for fish caught on a fly. 

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