An advantage to living in a place like Montana is that you
will never lack for company. It's a great place to vacation,
and since I've been here I've had a number of visitors, fishing
friends in particular who appreciate the opportunity to fish
the pristine mountain streams. I appreciate their company.
I was especially pleased when I recently heard from my Dad's
brother, Roger. Roger is retired, and he transverses the
country in a motorhome, camping and fishing and living what
many would consider, myself included, the dream life. He
told me he'd be heading west this summer, and asked if he
could visit me in my house in Missoula (which, by the way,
is just a bit bigger, but not as well appointed, as his motorhome).
I've always had a warm spot in my heart for Roger. It was he,
when I was a young boy, who introduced me to the delights of
camping in the neighboring state of Wisconsin, a unique experience
for a kid born and raised in inner-city Chicago. And though he
didn't introduce me to the sport, he also has 50 years of fly
fishing under his wading belt, and in his travels has probably
fished every major trout river in North America. So I responded
with enthusiasm to his request, and promised him a day or two on
July isn't the best fishing in my area, and if you've seen the
news you know that Montana is currently divided into two sections:
smoking and non-smoking. Record high temperatures and no rainfall
have combined to make this one of the worst fire seasons in recent
history. Most days the smoke clouds the sun and, if you're not
accustomed to it, you might think there has been some kind of major
chemical spill or nuclear fallout. Add to that the river closures
due to low flow and you can see the fishing forecast isn't very
good. But this is Montana, after all, and poor fishing here equals
very good fishing in most other states.
As we rigged up on the first morning of Roger's visit, he casually
mentioned that his fly rod had been given to him by Ted Williams,
which would be like casually mentioning that you own a Monet.
For those of you who don't know, Ted Williams was a famous fly
fisher in his day. He played some professional sport too—baseball,
Roger had been a professional photographer. In 1962 one of his
assignments was photographing Ted William's line of fishing gear
for the Sears' catalog, and Ted insisted on supervising the shoot.
Roger mentioned that he fly fished, and Ted showed him a matching
fly rod and spinning rod given to him by a tackle manufacturer.
"hey're beautiful," Roger couldn't help but exclaim as he turned
the finely made rods over in his hands.
"You can have them," said the magnanimous Ted Williams, and, though
a collector's item, the fiberglass fly rod has been Roger's weapon
of choice for the past 40 years.
I took Roger to an idyllic spot on the Blackfoot river. The day was
blue-ribbon; cobalt cloudless skies, and sing-song runs of lucid
cold water surrounded by a steep, sun-bleached terrain that, on one
side, fell right to the river's edge. Deer wandered from the woods
to drink at translucent pools, and swallows nested in the rockface
like Anasazi cliff-dwellers. I fish hard and Roger kept up, and the
day was all that an angler could hope for—good company, beautiful
scenery, and striking wild trout whose colors covered the spectrum.
Now, I'm not one who likes the "Fishing with Dad's Ghost" genre of
writing. I think it's a theme that's overused, and while these
stories might have deep meaning to the writer, they don't mean
much to the reader. In short, some stories might need to be
written but they don't need to be read.
But I realized, watching my uncle a bit upstream casting the flyrod
given to him by Ted Williams, that, unless the next life is as I
hope it will be, this will be as close as I will ever get to fishing
again with my father. So I was especially excited to see his fly rod
bend and hear Roger let out a "whoop" when a large, wild rainbow took
his nymph imitation in the deep slot of a sparkling pool on the Blackfoot
River in the mountains of Montana. ~ 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.