Friday, March 8, 2019

Fishing the vortex's aftermath

It was my birthday on Thursday so a friend reached out to see if I wanted to play hooky and go fishing.

My first reaction was excitement to spend river time with a friend who I don't get out with much anymore. My second reaction was doubt that we'd be able to find fishable water on a week that barely got above zero, including a day that hit -46 degrees. My third reaction was dread - is this even going to be fun? But my fourth reaction was yeah, this'll be good.

Somehow, we did have a few options as there is almost always somewhere to fish in Montana. We could hit a Paradise Valley spring creek, the upper Clark Fork at Warm Springs, maybe the Ruby, and the upper Madison was still flowing.

We decided on the upper Madison, which apparently hadn't seen temperatures quite as cold as elsewhere, and even had reports of dry-fly action. I was ashamed to admit I wasn't even sure if I had any Rubberlegs in my box, which speaks to my fly-fishing zeal this winter.

Driving upstream from Ennis, we watched the truck's thermometer climb a degree every half mile or so until it stopped at 38 degrees at 9:06. Winds were light to medium and the snow was deep - getting to and from the river was a bit of an adventure.

Fishing was excellent - about as good as the upper Madison fishes, according to my fishing-guide buddy. Between the two of us, we probably landed 35 hungry and feisty fish from 12 to 18 inches including one on a dry. I was a bit of an out-of-shape, out-of-practice shit show, but it was a superb, two-moose birthday.

I can't decide if I am grateful to have friends that will drag me out fishing in this weather, or resentful that I could be expected to brave the water after this bullshit weather. But life's too short, as they say, and I've settled on grateful. Very grateful.

So here's to the 2019 Montana fishing season, to friends who are probably a little crazy, and to another trip around the sun with four more crazy seasons. We should have good flows all summer long (despite what my previous post says :)).

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