Fishing & Camping Adventures

Some people catch fish two at a time. I catch a baby brookie and a big stick.

It seemed late, this year, but my wife and I finally hooked up our trailer and headed for the Big Hole that last weekend of May. What with weather, and so many public camping areas being closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, it was about impossible earlier. Of course, our typical spring weather was often more like winter weather.

It was a relief to get out, finally, along with lots of others with the same idea. After several months of pandemic lockdown, and with some easing of restrictions, it seemed pretty obvious that we weren’t the only ones anxious to get out of our respective hometowns for a change of scenery and maybe some floating.

I packed my pontoon boat and did a couple floats on the upper Big Hole, though the floats were more about floating than fishing. Still, there’s a story.

Lots of fly anglers like to fish with two flies on the line. I usually avoid doing that because it just seems two flies triple the chances of getting things tangled up. 

I violated that principle on my first float, because while I saw lots of bugs, caddis and mayflies, on the water, I wasn’t seeing any rises. So, I tied on an elk hair caddis and a beadhead nymph on a dropper to see if I’d catch anything.

After a few casts, I was delighted when a small brook trout took the caddis imitation. I quickly brought it in and did a few more casts. I was surprised to get another hit. I couldn’t figure out what it was, because it felt more like I got snagged up, even though I could feel a fish wiggling. I finally got it up and a three-inch brookie had taken the little nymph, while my fake caddis had hooked a large stick. 

People who regularly fish with two flies often tell tales of having two nice fish on at the same time. It’s probably more exciting than a three-inch trout and a big stick.

On an evening walk around the campground, I had a brief conversation with a guy from Dillon. My black Lab, Kiri, made acquaintance with his black Lab, Tank. They were about the same size and cordially observed proper canine protocol of sniffing butts and other personal parts. As we finished our walk, I mused a bit on giving a dog a name like “Tank,” figuring the owner visualized his puppy growing up to be a indomitable retriever and bird finder.

The next morning, however, I started laughing and I chuckled the rest of the weekend whenever I saw Tank, as our new friend and his kids went down to the river, with the kids calling, “Tanky, come here!” 

Yes, you can give a dog a testosterone-loaded name like Tank, but it loses all credibility when the kids call him Tanky.

When we got home from our long weekend on the river, in the mail was the latest issue of American Angler magazine. I’ve been subscribing to the magazine for a number of years and have enjoyed it, even if it seemed a rung or two down the ladder from FlyFisherman magazine and Fly Rod & Reel magazine. 

Another fishing magazine bites the dust.

A couple years ago, Fly Rod & Reel abruptly shut its doors and went out of business with no warning at all. Greg Thomas, a Missoula-based writer and editor was the last editor of FR&R. 

He landed on his feet as not much later he emerged as the new editor for American Angler. He made a lot of changes, including bringing back some features and some of the feel of FR&R, such as environmental articles by renowned writer Ted Williams. 

I was dismayed to read the editor’s column and learn that this would be the last print issue of American Angler. Thomas said Angler would continue to exist online but the dead tree edition was done.

I hate to see the demise of yet another outdoor publication, though I can’t help but wonder how Thomas feels, having presided over the death of two excellent magazines.

2 thoughts on “Fishing & Camping Adventures

  1. It’s good to know there’s some Montana folks returning to normality with an outdoor pastime like fishing and camping and remembering stuff that no longer is. I’ll check out the American Angler online magazine. I liked that one. I still get Fly Fishing. There’s a comforting act of having it sit around waiting to be read and it doesn’t have to be connected to the grid. I’d like to see Kiri sometime soon. Tanks for a great article!

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