Its taken me a while to put words to how I feel the way I do about fly fishing. I’ve never had a concise answer to any of my friends who don’t fish as to why I invest so much of my time and money to drive shitty dirt roads to rivers, stand there for hours on end, wave a stick around, maybe catch a fish, let it go if I do and drive back. Even if I’m investing a few days or more into this endeavor, the concept is alien to them. I really don’t expect them to understand. However after this last weekend spent with a good friend on an incredible stretch of water I think I know what I can tell them next time they ask. To be succinct, for me fly fishing is all about a fleeting moment of perfection. It’s a day like this last Sunday, when everything just works out; stars align, moon is in its waning gibbous, and be to honest I didn’t drink too much the night before so I woke up on time. A one day float for all intents and purposes isn’t too hard to plan; a boat, a car or in this case two for shuttle, willing participants, fishing gear , the appropriate amounts of coffee, beer, snack (human and K9 alike) and gasoline. You’d be surprised what kind of trouble you can find with the above combination.
Sunday is my only day off from the shop until Spring kicks into full gear and the shop really comes to life so it’s the only day for me to really get out there and get after it. I like to spend this time of year before runoff really hits, exploring the rivers and streams that are becoming active with early season hatches. One of my favorites is just about and hour and a half west in the heart of south central Montana. Standing behind a counter helping folks with bugs, rods, reels and rentals has its benefits, you get reports from all over that for the most part are BS braggadocio but every once in a while a reliable source shows their face. In this case it was a friend I trust so I took his word for it and headed west. After two hours behind the wheel, 120 miles, one big ass cup of coffee and two episodes of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, the shuttle was run, the boat wet, cooler, stocked, rods rigged and we’re ready to float. It’s a cool canyon in the morning but the suns out and things are warming up. It’s still early so not many bugs spreading their wings in the warmth. Not yet at least, it’s only a short time before the first stonefly silhouette shows itself fluttering between the shores.
The strategy changes with the bugs starting to show themselves. The water is still off-color, tan and two feet visibility at best. It’s a gamble I’m willing to take. I know fish this time of year are getting hungry for bigger meals so the size 10 South Fork Chernobyl seems to fit the bill. Foam, legs and a hackle create a narrow profile similar to the larger bugs that make this river ecosystem their home. After the first few casts against the bank the first cutty comes from under some low limbs and attacks. It’s a short fight but exciting and not long before more fish are showing my companions fly some attention. The gamble has paid off and we find ourselves in a run we cant help but anchor up at see what it produces.
As the day continues to warm up the fishing follows suite. One fish producing run follows the next, each bend providing shelter and sustenance. Like I said before, it’s all a fleeting moment of perfection. Flies land, the fish eats, and steel meets flesh. This process is repeated over and over throughout the day. By the end of the day we have nothing to show for our efforts; save the flies demolished by the greedy fish, and the sun burn.
I can’t tell you how many fish we caught but I can tell you it was
staggering. Again, it was just one of those days where everything came together in our favor and when it comes down to it I fish for days like those. Warm spring days, big dry flies, cold beer, good company and beautiful native fish. If you recognize any spots in the pictures I would recommend checking it out once the weather improves to your liking. Don’t let the gauge scare you off, the river was slowly rising all week before our trip and as the title implies, the fishing was lights out. If you don’t recognize any spots, pull out a map and put your detective skills to use. Just know at the end of the day the local brewery is waiting with a cold Corners Porter for you.
“Live, travel, adventure, bless and don’t be sorry” -Jack Kerouac