RIVER RUNNING — A Montana man drew a coveted new permit that allows him to pick the ideal flows and perhaps the best fishing period any day of the year to launch a group of rafts down Montana's strictly regulated Smith River.
Sean O'Connor of Drummond, a local fire chief, won the first Smith River Super Permit this week.
He said he'd bought five $5 raffle tickets. His name was drawn from a total of 2,435 tickets sold.
Other people who draw permits during the normal February drawing are lucky to get them, but they are locked in to launch dates regardless of whether they coincide with high or low water in the river's notoriously unpredictable flows.
The Smith River winds through a spectacular limestone canyon in the Lewis & Clark / Helena National Forests. The typical four day, 59-mile float offers great fishing for cutthroat, brown and rainbow trout, plus mountain whitefish.
O'Connor said he plans to float the Smith River sometime in late June, or when the fishing and the weather are at its best.