from Deanna Travis
Publisher & Owner
Of all the folks I've had the pleasure of knowing over the years, fly fishers just strike me as being for the most part so much more optimistic than 'normal' society. That is a good thing because it means most conversations are so much more uplifting and fun than the doom and gloom stuff we so often see on TV or in our newspapers.
It doesn't take someone with rocket science to figure that out either. Spent a little time reading the Bulletin Board here on FAOL and you'll see for yourself. Why else would the folks who tie flies do that at all much less try out new flies with new untested materials except for the expectation the flies will catch fish? And of course they expect to go fishing with them.
We drove down Paradise Valley south of Livingston (MT) yesterday in search of bugs. Ya right, another couple of optimists in search of the ephemeral - well not exactly we were looking for caddis not mayflies - but anyway, what we did find is absolute proof of the existence of those who continue to strive to find not just the insects but the fish that eat them.
There were only a few cars at the Mallard's Rest Access off 89 South. I think all were from Park Country (local). No bugs so we headed back north, right turn at Pine Creek. When we all first moved out to Montana from Michigan back in the early 70's we found winter digs at the Pink Creek KOA.
The area is very familiar. Back in those days there wasn't a state access with a nice ramp at the bridge - in fact the bridge was an old one with wooden floorboards that made a very distinct sound as you drove over them. Long gone and a modern concrete span replaces it.
We all fished this stretch of water. Over the years it has changed of course as rivers tend to, especially when floods are involved. I wonder how many fish have been caught in this stretch? An island or two and wonderful holding water.
Yesterday there was an abundance of anglers - mostly fly fishers, a couple wading across and upstream and lots more in drift boats. We watched as one tried to back the rig and trailer down to pick up a waiting drift boat. He was out of practice, it was a long winter here, but he finally got the trailer on track. Three more boats were waiting their turns. This was about one o'clock in the afternoon, no bugs or they wouldn't have been pulling out. At least it wasn't raining like today.
I checked the license plates on the vehicles - lots from Bozeman, a couple of Livingston cars, one from Colorado, one from Wyoming and one from New Hampshire. Now before you shake your head, Bozeman over the hill is a college town and a lot of the people who go to school there are fly fishers. They choose to be here because of the fishing and skiing and the Rocky Mountains.
Sure can't fault them for that - but we did remark while waiting for the traffic on 89 to go by so we could get back on the highway that it looked more like the Friday flee from Seattle than being in Montana. That is what it is like and we don't necessarily have to like it. And yes we know it is good for the local economy. But it isn't even summer yet and the Park isn't open.
We didn't stop at the access at Carter's Bridge; we could see the trailers parked in the 'overage' lot on this side of the river. That means the lot at the access itself is full. It looked like most opted to float from Pine Creek to Carters. You need to take a number to pull your boat out, it gets really messy. We did see a couple of caddis at DePuy Spring Creek where we walked the river bank for a bit, but not enough to make a hatch.
The Gallatin River is in Bozeman, but it isn't the draw the Yellowstone is of course, and by now it may already be blown out. There are several fly shops in Bozeman and they all have guides so it is common to see a lot of Bozeman license plates here.
There's something about the almost giddy outlook of anglers in spring hoping to hit a major hatch when the trout are looking up and very hungry after a tough winter. When you do hit it right it can be a nearly religious experience. It is that experience (or the expectation of it) that brings people back year after year. Of course that includes Trav and me.