Nature at Work – New Waters

East Gallatin Breach 2009
East Gallatin Breach 2009

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, MT

The very first time I fished the East Gallatin River (2005) during a trip to Bozeman, I broke a fly rod on a large rainbow at the mouth of a very large oxbow. Although at the time I didn’t realize exactly where I was on the river, it turns out the oxbow marked about the half-way point in a 7.5 mile section I would routinely float in later years. It became a convenient landmark to rendezvous with fellow floaters on the long float. Once I started floating the entire length of this section (completely surrounded by private land), I became intimately familiar with the river at water level but oblivious to the surrounding scrub and farmland which was obscured by high banks, grass and willows. There was a spot probably 5 miles into the float where the river took a sharp 90 degree turn and created a very productive pool. Somewhere in the turn there was always the sound of flowing water entering the river. Since the Gallatin Valley is just loaded with spring creeks, I always thought that’s what we were hearing, a small spring creek entering the river. Those thoughts proved wrong when I made my first float in 2009. The spot was actually a breach in a very narrow (2-4 feet) isthmus created as the river made almost a 360 degree circle over the course of a quarter mile. You could now barely float through the breach which revealed about a two foot differential in river height but there remained sufficient flow in the big circle section.

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