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July 2, 2010 in Outdoors
Rich Landers photo

Fly fishers cast for brown trout along the stained rock-garden limestone cliffs that border central Montana’s Smith River where special permits are required to float a 59-mile scenic stretch.

Rich Landers photo

Smith River floaters converge the day before they start at the Camp Baker put-in site northwest of White Sulphur Springs, Mont.

Rich Landers photo

Floater’s line up at the Camp Baker ranger’s office to register for their launching time on the Smith River.

Rich Landers photo

Map shows the campgrounds along the 59-miles permit stretch of the Smith River. Floaters must choose a camground for each night they are on the river before they launch.

Rich Landers photo

Floaters stage at the Camp Baker put-in where the water was high and brown with runoff silt in the third week of June 2010. The river also can be low and clear on the same date, depending on weather and snowpack.

Rich Landers photo

Everett Coulter of Spokane mans the oars of his raft as he and companions on two other boats drift down the Smith River.

Rich Landers photo

Limestone cliffs tower over anglers and floaters in portions of central Montana’s Smith River where special permits are required to float a 59-mile scenic stretch.

Rich Landers photo

Using rafts, this group was able to carry chairs, tables and many comforts on their five-day float trip on the Smith River. A rain fly was an important gear item to shelter the group from rain at camp. Enjoying happy hour as grilled bratwurst simmer in beer are, from left, Everett Coulter and Bob Landwehr of Spokane, Gordy Hendrickson of Ronan and Bob McKee of Hamilton.

Rich Landers photo

A family of merganzers lounges on a log as anglers float by on central Montana’s Smith River.

Rich Landers photo

Gaggles of Canada geese with growing goslings were common along the banks of central Montana’s Smith River in late June.

Rich Landers photo

Fishing is a prime reason many floaters apply for a permit to float the Smith River

Rich Landers photo

The Smith is famous among fly fishers for its rainbows and brown trout.

Rich Landers photo

Everette Coulter holds one of the average-size brown trout his group caught during a five-day trip down the Smith River despite high, off-color conditions.

Rich Landers photo

Outdoors editor Rich Landers climbed up to the tope of one of the Smith River’s iconic limestone cliffs to make this photo of the Smith River near Cow Coulee Campground as hit heads north toward its confluence with the Missouri River.

Rich Landers photo

A raft carring anglers is put in perspective in this shot from high above on top of a rock cliff overlooking the Smith River.

Rich Landers photo

With tents set and a fire built up at Cow Coulee Camp on the Smith River, happy hour begins.

Rich Landers photo

Campers must stay at designated campsites as the float down the 59-mile permit stretch of central Montana’s Smith River. Most of the sites are simple but choice, with fire pits, latrines and great views. Pictured here at Upper Cow Coulee Camp after a day of floating and fishing are, from left, Everett Coulter, Bob Landwehr, Gordon Hendrickson, Bob McKee and, in the distance, Dave Demmons.

Rich Landers photo

Happy hour continued late on this fine evening — the only night the rain fly did not have to be set up during this group’s five-day trip on the Smith River.

Rich Landers photo

Floaters gander at a Canada goose as they drift out of the Smith River canyon section and into the more open prairie and cottonwood bottoms as they head to the take out at Eden Bridge near Ulm, Mont. The River eventually pours into the Missouri River.

Rich Landers photo

Ancient artwork on the rock walls remind Smith River floaters that they were not the first people to enjoy the canyon. Pictographs painted along the central Montana stream are clues that prehistoric American Indian groups were lured to the Smith River more than a thousand years ago.