About a million years ago, (1992 if you want to be precise) a much younger, more innocent Badfish stumbled out from a movie theatre. He was all starry eyed and in rapture because he had just seen the most amazing cinematic event his twelve year old eyes had ever soaked up and burned into his soul. After watching the movie a few more times in theaters and really thinking about what it all meant; he proclaimed to the world (which consisted of a couple dogs, a fishing buddy and parents) that from this point forward he was strictly a fly fisherman and would be moving to Montana at his earliest convenience. Only the dogs really understood the gravity of this vow. THE MOVIE, of course was "A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT"
In the course of years that followed (many fishless) I did manage to stay true to the part of my vow that I would only fly fish (even at twelve I could fathom pretentiousness, but remain unashamed) but Montana never happened. The chance to visit with a fly rod in hand eluded me as lack of time and money and steelhead mania traded blows on my young psyche. Sometimes I would have the time, but no money. Sometimes I would have the money but no time. and Sometimes the native Salmonids would eclipse my dreams of real western trout fishing in a setting that was almost a make believe story land. And thats almost what it became. My grandiose ideals of what montana could or should be, threatened to get
bigger than the big sky country itself. I can say with some shame that part of me was afraid to go there and have the whole dream crushed... then what would I have? Smelly, dismal reality?
Well last week it finally came about. My tour guide/ girlfriend Julie, delivered me to Montana and it was all that I had ever hoped for, which is a bold statement for someone who is notorious for expecting way to much out of things to begin with. We stayed in the town of Hamilton (Julie's home town), where her great grand father opened MT's first Jewelry store back in the day, and where her Grandfather fly fished until he caught his first stocked trout in the Bitterroot river and put away his fly rods for good. hamilton is a bigger-small town and aside from marginal coffee, it has all the amenities that I deemed righteous and holy, (under the right circumstances I would never find the need to leave Hamilton).
Aside from amazing fishing for west slope cutthroats and browns I did manage to catch one of the few "Im pretty sure things can't get better than this" moments in my life. We were warming up at the Barnes and Noble in Missoula after catching some browns at rock creek, and I happened to find the one John Gierach novel I was missing... smelling like trout, drinking starbucks, and reading Gierach IN MONTANA!??! Im sorry but, things just don't get any better than that. I was at my height of glory.
I could write volumes of the wildlife and scenery and fishing and then more about the fishing. or how my hands trembled when I landed my first trout in montana
and it just happened to be a brilliantly colored brown with blue tinting about its face. or about the bear that came face to face with Julie while I was yards away with german browns on my mind. I could write about the hillsides smoking from forest fires. or a sublime moment with a Double Haul IPA after catching my first tiger trout. or the trout I spent two hours trying to cast through the wind to. or the best fried chicken I ever had after enjoying fried chicken for nearly 29 years. Or how Julie caught her first white fish and was thrilled to death with it, and how i wished to find that kind of joy while fishing again. I could write about bighorn sheep that refused to get out of the way. or how I spent 60 bucks on flies and only used the ones I tied at home... Perhaps someday I will. But for now Im still digesting it all, with nothing but some chewed flies on my hat brim and some pictures to prove to myself that yes, one of my dreams really did just come true.