Moving from Massachusetts to Montana, east to west, from the
ocean to the river, has required some transitions. I've
traded the 9 wt. for a 4 wt., and 3/0 streamers for size 18
dry flies that a 3/0 streamer could eat. For the most part,
I've adjusted, but only after double hauling a 70 foot cast
into the trees on the opposite bank of a 30 foot stream, and
sentencing the first few trout I caught to death by hanging
on the tree branch behind me when I set the hook a bit too
hard. A habit I can't seem to break, though, is getting up
at first light, when stripers feed best, only to find both
trout and Montanans fast asleep. Still, Montana for me is,
if not Mecca, at least Madina.
One thing that's new is the phenomenon known as run off. If
I had given it any thought it wouldn't be too hard to imagine
that the snow that is up in the mountains since October
eventually melts, and that snow melt has to go somewhere so it
makes its way down the mountain to the rivers, but I'd never
really considered it before. Of course this brings trouting
to a crashing halt as, even if the fish could feed in the
raging currents, they would have a hard time seeing a fly in
water that one local fly shop website, which gives water
conditions and hatches, describes simply as 'yoohoo.' I'm
told that it won't be until mid-June that the rivers are
suitable for fishing.
And this is not necessarily a bad thing; at least that's what
I keep telling myself. I have a lot of chores to do on a house
I recently purchased, one of which is to make the yard
maintenance free (no, not astro turf, but I considered it) so
that once the bite is on I don't have to spend hours each
Saturday and Sunday mowing and weed wacking. The goal is 15
minutes of lawn care a week, whether it needs it or not.
But, even with runoff, each Sunday morning at dawn, while trout
and Montanans slumber, I brew a thermos of coffee and drive the
23 miles down Interstate 90 from Missoula to the Rock Creek Road
exit. I grit my teeth for the bumpy road and bounce another 20
miles up river. The water is high and the current is fast and
there is no one fishing. The fly rod, always strung up in the
bus, usually stays put. But there is wild life, and native plants,
and scenic gems that confirm the Sapphire Mountains are aptly named.
The water rushing over the rocks makes a discordant sound, a mixture
of high and deep tones, that reminds me of a symphony warming up—a
cacophony. I'll usually find a site close to the river with a fire
ring, start a twig fire, drink coffee, and just be where I am.
When I lived on the north shore of Massachusetts my two sons
worked as stern men on a lobster boat. The captain, Peter,
when not out pulling pots, would drive down to the boat ramp,
sit in his car, and stare at the water. I noticed his father,
a retired lobster man, did the same.
"Just making sure the Atlantic Ocean is still there," is how
Peter explained it.
I know exactly what he means. ~ Dave
Until recently Dave Micus lived in Ipswich, Massachusetts.
He just moved to Missoula, Montana. He is an
avid striped bass fly fisherman, writer and instructor.
He wrote a fly fishing column for the Port City Planet
newspaper of Newburyport, MA (home of Plum Island and Joppa Flats)
and taught a fly fishing course at Boston University.