BIG SKY THINGS
"Fish miss us sometimes too. Due to the location of eyes on most fish, there is a short window right before the initial strike of the take when the fly is in a blind spot for the fish. We just tend to blame ourselves, but in reality, the fish miss too.” _ Coach
I went to visit my lady, Via. She works at a ranch in Big Fork Montana. She has caught more Montana trout than I have, and mistook a stonefly shed as a poisonous scorpion. I’m lucky she doesn’t get jealous of my fish. I’m lucky she even touches fish. Me and Via are on the same page and she reads to me. Besides for her dance moves, what is most important to me about Via is how much I learn from her. Sometimes I think she makes me a better human.
We tried to drive to Missoula one day, the site of the Novel and movie A river Runs Through It, in a clapped-out blue minivan. The van died 30 miles from our destination. It quickly turns into a scene out of a movie; us rolling off the highway onto a dirt road, opening the hood to a sizzle sound as smoke rises. AAA saved us, but no Missoula. Funny how things work out, I caught my first pike later that day.
Montana is epic, but it is probably not best to only spend 5 days there. Intel had suggested good pike and trout fishing around where I was, so I made sure I was equipped for both. We scoped out a long and slow stretch of deep water leading into a damn, where we had heard was good fishing. Armed with bikes, we found easy access to the pike. Via tells me to slow down, I hit the wrong brake and almost do a front-flip into the water. A couple casts around some sunken structure and soon enough the chartreuse fly disappears, darting off to my right. Pike. My first pike on the fly, and he absolutely inhaled it. Good thing I brought Big One’s 3-Tand pliers along. Not to many teeth to show on him but a very nice and bright red coloring on his back dorsal. Beautiful fish in crystal clear deep water in Montana. Not a bad way to catch your first pike.
Aside from that my fishing luck was not the best. I caught a few stockies in a lodge pond, as well as some crappy off docks, which I gave to kids fishing next to me who use dead fish as a bee trapper. I did have one full day on the river though. Woke up with Via and she had arranged a morning float. She worked at 12. We didn’t make it back in time.
The float was what I would have pictured of a Montana river: big rapids and turquoise colored pools and lots of fish. Unfortunately for me none of which I could land. Plenty of strikes to keep us entertained though. There was a dog that reminded me of Boh that came along with us. I can’t help but thinking the fish gods are easier on us when a dog is part of the crew, I may be bias though. At a certain point we bailed on the fishing, mostly because Via was already 20 minutes late for work, and we still had another 20 minutes to float. Before we took out we passed an epic zone of slow-moving water. The bottom was covered in tall grass that was pressed down as if a constant surge of wind was blowing in the direction of the current. Before I knew it I was staring at 30-inch trout again and again as we floated passed. Hype was real, no need for casting. Just watch.
Somehow Via managed to sneak into work late, under the radar. Her walki- talki worked 30 miles from the lodge. Via’s back at work, I’m back on the trout scene. Riding a mountain bike on Montana highways to a suggested river access proved more eventful than anticipated. I walked my bike into a canyon along a stair pathway just because I had no lock and it was the Lodge’s bike. I hid it in a fork in the river at the bottom. I scouted a couple holes as I rigged up. First two pools were textbook. A couple flashes but no takes. Rest pools, move on.
Down a ways I see a fellow angler, a spinner who says he’s caught about twenty to my zero. Great. With a miss on a big take I realize someone had told me to de-barb all my trout hooks. So that was good. On my way back, discouraged, I hit the top two pools again. Both with luck this. First of the two: Two casts, stripping a home-tie black mamba, BOOM. Nice eat, good fight deep in a pool of multiple outflows. Good size trout. I fuck up first net attempt and miss the fish. Top pool, first cast: see a darting flash in the direction that my wooly is drifting in a fast moving stretch. Fish on, fish jump, fish off. I go home.
I was going to end this post with some self-righteous warning about how technology is taking over the world, but then I’d basically be a giant hypocrite. I’m lucky enough to say I’ve seen trout in Montana. It’s not about the fish, and its not about the photos. Sorry Thorny. It’s about seeing signs for Grizzly Bear territories and scaring Via when I slip into a fast-paced run. It’s also about loosening up and relaxing. It’s about being rogue. One night we got drunk playing Kings with a couple of the Lodge staff. Lets just say Via found out some stuff that I won’t blog about. We’re ok though, I think.