The Treasure State

I was recently offered a free trip to fish the Clark Fork in Montana on the condition I provided a little evening fireside music. This was an arrangement most agreeable. Our host was enthusiastic, the food was everything you’d expect from six men in the woods, and the scenery was simply stunning.

Quick stop in Seattle.

The front porch of the cabin.
My friend Par doing his best impression of Mickey Mantle doing an impression of Paul Bunyan doing an impression of Captain Morgan.

Once on the river, the 6 of us split up: 4 men in 1-man pontoon rafts, and the 2 least experienced guys in the drift-boat with a guide.  Though my experience is limited, and the sample size is small, based on philosophy and approach I wouldn’t recommend this particular chap, though he had fascinating views on Bigfoot and the human capacity to see other dimensions. 

As I suspected, some Truckee River patterns I trust ended up doing the heavy lifting.  Once I figured out how to read such a enormous amount of moving water, I figured out what kind of water they were holding in and then the fun started.  At some point on the trip, I was given the nickname “Truckee” which I didn’t mind at all.

The diversity of coloring on the cutties was remarkable.

Hares ear for the win. Orange color for the stare.

My friend Gilligan thankfully set the expectations for Montana for me before I left, and he was spot on.  Lots of fish, but none as big as the brutes I’m privy to on my home water.  The weather would have shut down any other outdoor event, but between the deep greens of the untouched forests, the occasional rapids, the bald eagles overhead keeping watch, and the action in the water below you, you didn’t have time or space to mumble about the water above you.

One of the better fish of the trip.

It was my first time drifting a section of river like that, and two days and 24 miles later I could feel it in my back, shoulders, and most of all, my quads.  Staying hydrated helped, but it was honestly more physical than what I was prepared for.  Still, it was the trip of a lifetime.

I came home with a clearer understanding of why Montana paints itself in every fishing magazine, and why what I have at home is truly a world class fishery.  The beauty here in the high desert is a very different kind of beauty, and I’m fine with it not making any magazine covers.  That said, scenes like this below from Montana were enough to physically stop you in your tracks.  Hope to return to this part of the country again soon, and in the mean time I’ll gratefully make do with what I have in my backyard.

We get it Montana.  You’re awesome.

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