Tuesday, March 10, 2015

35 Fish

Inspired by Fitz Cahall's video 35 in which Brandon Leonard climbs 35 pitches on his 35th birthday, we set out to catch 35 trout on my 35th birthday. A lofty goal, indeed.

You can't just go to every 10-fish hole you can think of - the spots need to be near each other or you'll spend too much time driving. So we settled on the Madison River - everywhere but the Kitchen Sink.

Early to rise, late to bed, until I catch 35 trout....

When the first hole yielded a fish, our hopes were dashed. When the second hole yielded no eats, we waved the white flag in the interest of enjoying the day over stressing over an arbitrary goal. We were 10-run-ruled in the 1st inning. Not saying I did everything right, but I've never caught that few of fish at those two holes ... So we adapted.

Drive the car 35 miles per hour for 35 miles? Get 35 drifts in 35 mph winds at 35 degrees? Lose 35 flies? Shout 35 curse words? Drink 35 beers?

The 35-fish challenge highlights a difference between fishing and climbing (as the inspiration did). Climbing is slightly more in one's control; even the best anglers need cooperative trout. Not making excuses, just sayin'. What fun would fishing be if every fish was a guarantee?

But lamenting a long day of trouting is silly. We had views of sunlit crags. We caught fish - some chunky - ate well, laughed hard and shared it all with the dog. I saw the biggest bighorn sheep herd and the biggest elk herd of my life. We returned to Belgrade in time to share a mug at the brewery with friends, and my heart was full. Despite the dearth of trout, we celebrated every minute and ended the day with well over 35 memories - the real measure of any birthday or fishing trip.

I better brush up - these fishing birthdays will only get more difficult from here...

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Disenchanted on the South Fork

Dear steelhead:
I can tell that you don't like me.
Sometimes things feel good between us, like in the first hour we're near when the excitement is fresh, and when I'm catching the whitefish around you, and for about 15 minutes after we hook up (I know it hasn't been often). I don't know why it can't always be that good.
You can't deny that we had a strong connection on my first-ever visit, but you seem like you're avoiding me now.
Just between you and me - I did some really demeaning things for you, like nymph a plastic bead. I want you to know that I am not really that kind of angler, but I'll do whatever it takes for us to be together.
If we cannot be together, please promise me that you won't hook up with my friends. That'd be pretty hard on me.
I'm doing my best to move on. I've even started seeing some other fish in your area.
And while this has been painful, I am learning some valuable lessons. Just like every love, each rendezvous between us is a glorious miracle. I cherish you, and hope we can eventually work things out.

With love,

Please confirm that this is a steelhead...