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The Blackfeet Indian Reservation (*) just east of the Rocky Mountains in Montana has received lots of publicity about its trophy trout fishing, but I recently discovered a guide and lodge here that very few anglers know about. The guide is Ed Anderson (*) and the lodge is Jennings Ranch (*).

I got to know Anderson on a recent trip to the reservation with several friends. We began our fishing on Duck Lake, one of the best known of the reservation lakes. Anderson took us to an isolated bay where we caught several dozen trout that ranged from 12 inches to six pounds all in just a few hours of fishing in the morning. Later, we went to several other lakes that I had fished previously. Again, Anderson took us to areas I had overlooked, and they all produced sizeable trout.

Perhaps more important, Anderson also took us to some streams that run through private land in the area. These are streams Anderson has arranged special access to. These are not just run of the mill streams, though. In fact, they are what I would call world class streams. They are as good as any I’ve ever fished for sheer numbers of fish, ease of wading and overall enjoyment. A friend and I actually caught more than 100 cutthroat and rainbow trout in three hours of fishing. The fish ranged in size from eight to 19 inches and averaged a little over a foot. They were all chunky and extremely acrobatic fighters that showed a remarkable fondness for a size 14 Royal Wulff or an Adams in the same size.

The scenery is spectacular. The streams pour out of the Rockies and on to the high plains. To the west are spectacular mountain vistas; to the east are the plains, and they seem to stretch away in the distance forever.

Add to all this the experience of staying at the Jennings Ranch and you have a truly special trip. The ranch is located far up a gravel road in wild country that abounds in game, including grizzlies. The ranch is what I always imagined a Montana ranch should be. The buildings are made of rough hewn timber and are over 75 years old. The only running water is in the main lodge for showering. The cabin I stayed in had electricity but the only facilities were those of an outhouse. All the buildings are heated by woodstove, including a large lodge adjacent to the dining room that is perfect for late night conversation and card games.

The meals are home cooked and there is plenty of food. One breakfast, I remember, included sourdough pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs, a fruit platter and a variety of juices and strong coffee. All considered, the ranch is decidely "rustic" If your tastes run towards contemporary American motel, this is not your trip.

Anderson recommends a nine to 9 1/2 foot, medium action No. 6 to 7 weight fly rod for the lakes, and a seven foot, No. 4 weight rod for the streams. In addition to Wulffs and Adams, bring along an assortment of nymphs in brown, gray and olive, sizes eight through 16. Ed will provide float tubes for the lakes, but chest and hip waders and long underwear are essential.

Ed’s forte is turning people on to high quality fishing, not lively conversation if you get my meaning. Still, as he gets to know you, he will often display a very subtle sense of humor.

Anderson’s rates vary depending on the type of fishing you want. Room and board alone at the Jennings Ranch runs around $50 a day. The season runs from early spring (March/ April), which Anderson says is the best time for big fish, on into November. Expect cold, windy weather early and late in the season, but pack for both hot and cold weather no matter what time of year you fish. Wind will likely make fishing the lakes impossible an average of one day in three. During my trip in July, the temperature ranged from the mid 30’s to near 100 degrees in the afternoon! – John Holt.

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