A couple of things announced their need for me to post this item. I was dreaming of another fishing visit to the western part of the country, knowing that it had to be on hold. Also, I had just finished rewriting a memoir called Beautiful Like a Mayfly, which I hope to have published in the next year or two. One chapter of the book, called “Coming Off Montana,” contains the following excerpt, a piece that helps me remember what the fishing was like in southwestern Montana and the Yellowstone country a few years back. Please enjoy.
“… I wanted to fish the feeder creek flowing past the camp site, so I grabbed a small cane rod and a four-weight line. Sure enough, cutthroat trout began to rise for a Stimulator laid down on the surface of this stream. I expected fingerlings or stunted fish, not the big ones averaging nearly a foot in length. These cutthroats, possibly remaining from the spawning season earlier in spring, were far more colorful than their noted Rock Creek brethren down below the camp. This stream that averaged maybe 10 feet wide, along with its plentiful fishery, reminded me of the Pecos River headwaters in New Mexico a couple of years before. It was that sublime. It was that challenging and wild, although this stream had a quiet gravel road nearby.
The tributary had its share of log-jams and inviting holds for trout as it poured off the mountain slopes through spruce and fir and aspen forest. I returned to it for a second day of fishing, after hitting up Rock Creek in several more locations.
The wind was horrible on Rock, so I looked forward to bushwhacking the feeder stream above camp. I caught the first 10-inch cutthroat just a stone’s throw from my tent, then headed upstream casting a Yellow Sally. I plied the pocket water, undercuts, and quiet spots behind gray boulders. I hooked, in addition to foot-long cutthroats, a massive brown trout in a piece of fast water locked between boulders and a fallen tree. The little cane rod took a deep bend as I held the downstream trout at the bank and then approached it. Unfortunately I didn’t have my net along. The trout looked to be 18 inches long, but the fly popped out.
Later, as I climbed to the roadway through this splendid valley, I looked to where the creek flowed out of wooded slopes and scattered meadows. The sun was setting and reflected a golden glow and fresh tranquility from the great escarpments of rock and talus. Everything was trout-colored and new, and I gave thanks to the 14 cutthroats and five wild browns that I captured and released this day. With a final glimpse at the upper valley, I imagined swimming toward the source like a trout on a mission. Given the restraints of time and muscle, I could never walk there on my own. All of a sudden I had fins and I could swim. It might have been a dream, but it was Montana….”