The first week and a half of 2016 have been chilly in Livingston, MT–normal for this time of year. And though I did get out last week for my first Yellowstone River fishing trip of the year (more on that in my next post), few of us have been thinking about floating the river. After all, most of it looks like this:
But not all of the river is frozen to this extent. In fact, there’s a fair amount of open water above the Yankee Jim Canyon due to the hot springs that enter the river. And that’s where we meet Justin Nash.
Justin lives in Kansas where he’s a student. And while most Kansas students were having fun somewhere warm on their college break, Justin decided it was time to visit Montana to float the Yellowstone. After all, he wouldn’t have to “worry about bears,” he told me.
Justin visits Sweetwater Fly Shop after his big float.
When Justin called our fly shop to ask me about floating the river, I told him that some sections would be frozen; that he might float around a corner and find an impassable river encased in ice. What then? He told me that he was going to float in a kayak and that he’d just portage if he had to. I still advised against the trip (hypothermia is no joke and who wants to begin 2016 dead?) but Justin didn’t drive here from Kansas to stand on the shore. Justin was going to float the Yellowstone.
Justin was worried that there wouldn’t be anyone to shuttle his car after his float, so he rented a car and trailer to do his own shuttles. That’s a first for me in 20 years of watching river shuttles.
And so after floating in his kayak on January 3 and 4, Justin is probably the first person to float the Yellowstone between Gardiner and Livingston in 2016. He’s got my vote for this year’s man of the year award (though the year is still pretty young). So on the first warm spring day of this year, or maybe the perfect July evening when the floating and fishing feel like heaven, you might wonder who was the first person to float the river in 2016. Well you don’t have to guess. I believe we know.
Have you also floated the river this year? Maybe even before Justin on January 1 or 2? Let’s hear about it.