Thursday, July 30, 2009

Big Price, Big Sky

Just got back from a week in Montana. Katie's family had a little reunion at her Uncle Mike's place in Hamilton, just about 45 miles south of Missoula. It's in the big middle of the Bitterroot Valley with some of the best fly fishing in the world every direction.
These reunion things are tricky. With 4 generations, I fit into the second oldest. The age range present was 1 1/2 to 88. I always know there will never be enough time to fish where and when I want, but at least this time I did get a couple of chances, with one day to myself on the East fork of the Bitterroot. I like the E. fork because the water is smaller, much to my liking. Supposedly so are the fish, but I've managed to catch and land a few that go to about 12 inches. Works for me. I think that's what makes the East fork such a solitary place to go; it gets a bad rap. People generally believe that bigger is better. Maybe, sometimes. I rarely get to fish waters inhabited solely by cutthroat trout that going there makes it even more special. (technicality: there some crossbreeds between cuts and rainbows called cutbows present) On the photo of the river is a drop of rain that caught the camera lens.
On Tuesday, July 28th I took off for a few hours just above Sula, Montana. Sula is one of those one gas station, one bar towns that's easy to pass if you are expecting more. Somewhere between mile markers 11 and 14 there is a grassy shelf on the shoulder of the road and it's fairly easy to access the river. Just a slight incline down a rocky bank. Good snowmelt this year, as the river was deeper than I've seen and rushing by in some parts with plenty of white water. Too swift to get a decent drift on a dry fly, so the fish I took were all on nymphs. The nicest one was on a green bead head dark stonefly nymph I made myself. Just when he was positioned perfectly for a photo, he flipped me off and himself back into the river, breaking the fine tippet in the process and telling me just what he thought of the fly I tied.
The picture I got of him is just before he took off, in motion and slightly out of focus. I've come to see it as a metaphor for my relationship with fly fishing in Montana. All too fleeting, but definitely beautiful, unpredictable, and always leaving me wanting more time.
That evening we went to Uncle Mike's partner, Bonnie's home for a 7 year- old's birthday party. Right before a typical but formidable thunder and lightening storm hit, I caught a few shots of the big sky and accompanying surroundings. This is horse country, too. The horses in a nearby corral were instinctually herding themselves and running in wide sweeping circles just as the first lightening strikes hit. They, and we, all went inside by nightfall.

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