from Deanna Travis

FlyAnglers Online

Publisher & Owner



August 29, 2011

It has been a rather strange summer - scheduled to be in the 90's today. In fact the last several days have really been warmer than usual, but since this was one of the longest, toughest winters in anyone's memory the hot weather is welcome.

The problem is summer came late; some hatches never came off at all. Nephew Tom stopped by the other day and brought several photos of a blanket Mother's Day caddis hatch some years ago. He commented we haven't had one of these is a long time. I remember some very heavy hatches in the past too, somewhere on FAOL there is a photo of Debbie Freele from Canada with hands full of hex on Michigan's Au Sable.

The thing about fly fishing is it really is unpredictable. You might have some idea of what you may expect, but no guarantee. We try and prepare for what we 'think' might be happening, even turn over some rocks and see who is living there and what their condition is. Going to hatch soon? The weather of course plays havoc as well; too cold? Bugs stay put.  If it's Windy – Rainy – Snowy: well maybe fall Baetis prefer the cold snowy stuff but it's not as much fun for the anglers.

The sign for us the summer is gone are the activities of our friend Mitch. He is a long-time friend and a fishing and hunting guide. Instead of big game he guides upland bird hunters. He has a passel of fine dogs and when it's time Mitch is out of here. My husband Trav had an email from him today saying he is off to north-eastern Montana, bird hunting is the game and it soon will be on.

Some years Mitch will winter in Texas or other southern states that have winter hunting. I haven't heard what his plans are for that, but I find it interesting how fellow guides have worked out a means to keep from starving over the Montana winters.

Tommy Travis will head out for their winter home in Florida about the same time we head for Arizona. Tom is also a contract fly tyer for Orvis and will spend a bit of time this winter filling their orders along with some for private clients who also come to Livingston to fish with him each year.

Livingston took a real hit this summer. The economy was partly to blame, but the Yellowstone River, our biggest attraction, is still running high today. It is clear now, but for so long was like chocolate malt. 

The long winter left lots of snow everywhere, including Yellowstone National Park. So even once the local snow was pretty much gone the huge run-off from Yellowstone Lake is still going on and it is nearly the end of August. Fishermen just didn't show up here, the motels, restaurants and other stores will all go into winter a bit short I fear.  For some the winter season coming won't matter.

The fishing community is still grieving the loss of Chester Marion (73) who died when his raft hit a tree across the Boulder River just above the confluence with the Yellowstone. One of his longtime friends and companion was also lost in the accident, and the friends wife was the only survivor. It was high, fast water and we heard from other guides who also float that river who told us they had walked their boats through that section because it was just too dangerous just the day before Chet attempted it.  

Don Williams, (75) known as Donnie, also passed Tuesday morning. Don battled cancer for three years. Don really was a master of the river if one can be. He made friends with everyone he ever guided - one of those, Bob Soloman became like a brother to Don. Bob took Don fishing many places, so he was able to visit New Zealand, England, Argentina, Alaska, Canada, Idaho, Wyoming, the Rio Grande River, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Florida, Key West, Russia, Mexico's Baja Peninsula, Iceland and many places around Montana. Upon returning home he would share his experiences with his family and friends. His zest for life and the ability to teach others is admired by all who knew him.

These two men were noted trout fishing guides and each one left a legacy in the angling community that will outlive them. They were a part of the old guard whose passing marks the end of an era. We pray that God will comfort their families and friends, and that their passing will remind all of us that life is short, death is real and you need to make certain before that time comes for you that you know where you will be spending eternity.

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