Winter Camping in June

Our friend, Wayne, flogging the river in strong winds.

“Sounds like typical Vang camping weather.”

That was a neighbor’s comment many years ago when we came home after a short camping vacation that mainly featured gloomy days inside our tent trailer of those years, looking out at thunderstorms rolling through.

It took a while, but we finally had our first camping outing of the season, and we had typical camping weather.

In good years, we get out for our first outings in April, sometimes timed so that we’re camping on the banks of the lower Madison River when the early Mother’s Day Caddis Hatch happens.

This year that early caddis hatch was the late and abbreviated hatch and I totally missed it. We had some nice days in April but I don’t think we ever had two days in a row when it would have been worth the bother to hitch up the trailer. May wasn’t much better, along with other obligations that we couldn’t duck that ruined a couple other weekends.

But, we finally got our opening on the calendar. The trailer was stocked with food and clothing and we headed for the upper Big Hole.

We were meeting Wayne, a friend of our daughter’s, who lives in California but was coming through Montana on his way to his home state of Minnesota for a canoe outing on the Boundary Waters. He had taken up fly-fishing a few years ago and was hoping to do some fly-fishing in Montana.

It was hot and sunny in mid-afternoon, when we arrived at the fishing access site where we planned to camp. It was also windy—as in gale-force winds roaring down the river corridor that made flycasting a challenge, if not a total joke.

Wayne and I flogged the water for about an hour, not having any action at all and we agreed we weren’t going to take any more of that abuse and we retreated to the trailer for food and refreshment.

Around 7 p.m., about an hour after Wayne hit the road, it struck me that the wind had died down, so I hurriedly put my waders back on and went back to the river. There was still a breeze though nothing like the afternoon tempest. Some caddis bugs were hatching and I got a few rises from trout, though no hook-ups. Then the breeze totally changed directions and a few raindrops were in the air.

I quit fishing in time to get my waders off and gear stowed when the sky opened up and wind-driven rain lashed our trailer. Temperatures dropped and wind and rainsqualls rocked the trailer for the rest of the night.

That was followed by a cold and windy day. I was able to fish, though not surprisingly, the fish weren’t biting. The old saying that fish don’t bite when a cold front is coming through still holds true.

June snow on the Big Hole River – “typical Vang camping weather.”

The next day dawned cold and frosty, though we were warm and cozy in the trailer. About 9 a.m., while we were eating breakfast the first of the guide traffic rolled in to start float trips down the river just as snow started to fall. It was hard to not be amused at the sight of anglers walking around, wearing shorts, as snow swirled around them.

We decided to call it a weekend and we packed up the trailer and fishing gear and hitched up the trailer while another squall pelted us with graupel pellets.

We drove through more snow squalls on the way home. Later that afternoon I drove up to the Butte Public Library to get more books. Stormy weekends may not be great for fishing but we get a lot of reading done. I remarked to my friend at the checkout desk about driving through graupel along I-15 south of Butte, and she said, “And tents were blowing away at the Farmers Market.”

Things seem to work out the way they should. As it happened, we weren’t able to go camping in April, when the weather can be fickle. Thanks to typical Vang camping weather, we enjoyed an April weekend in June.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *