Early Flyfishing amid Mass Shootings

Trophy of the day.

There’s something special about that first fishing trip of the season.

 While we’ve had a relatively mild winter, it was still cold and snowy, and there’s a season for everything, and since January, after hunting seasons dragged to a close, I’ve been happy to build cheery fires in the fireplace after fun days of skiing at Discovery.

 As the days lengthen and get warmer, however, I start looking at weather forecasts and making plans for fishing, not skiing. Writing about flyfishing in Ireland, as I did a couple weeks ago, certainly put me in a mood to quit thinking about fishing and actually go and do it.

 Part of the rituals of that first trip is to collect gear from its various storage areas in the garage and house and then to organize my collection of fly vests, gadgets, rods, reels, boots, waders and all the other paraphernalia we think necessary for fishing. I like to think that flyfishing is simpler and less complicated than other types of fishing. I don’t have a boat, motor, fish-finder, and other such toys that a bass or walleye angler might consider necessary. Nevertheless, after many years of flyfishing, the pile of stuff continues to grow.

Over the years, the Beartrap Canyon area of the lower Madison River has gotten to be a favorite for early season fishing. The river gets a lot of pressure; I’ve never been there when there weren’t other people fishing, whether wading or boating. Still, it’s remarkably productive, especially when we consider how warm the waters get in summer. The canyon is also notorious for poison ivy and rattlesnakes in summer, but in March and April that’s not an issue.

 The Madison River is also notorious for wind, and that was the case on this first outing. The weather forecast was for breezy conditions and so it was, with gusts that make one question the whole enterprise. The temperatures were actually pretty mild, but the wind coming off the icy river was cold.

Canada geese keeping an eye out for me.

 My expectations for fishing success were low, as these first trips of the year are more to get out than to expect a lot of fish action in the icy waters. It was a pleasant surprise, after about ten minutes of casting, to feel a fish on the end of my line, a small rainbow trout that grabbed my beadhead pheasant-tail nymph. About ten minutes later I caught a small whitefish. The trophy of the day was a 14-inch rainbow that put a nice bend in my 3-weight rod.

 I caught my first fish about 11 a.m., and the third fish just before noon. After that I never had a nibble.

 Still, I had enough action to call the outing a success. I got out on a favorite river, caught some fish, and my waders didn’t leak. Can’t ask for much more than that.

 Alas, since that happy outing, the news has been dominated by mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder. While those events drew the most headlines, there were also mass shootings in Stockton, California, Gresham, Oregon, Houston and Dallas, Texas, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They didn’t have the death toll that the Atlanta and Boulder had, but that’s small comfort.

 According to Wikipedia there were 35 mass shootings in January, 41 in February, and 31 in March (as of March 23), with 122 deaths and 325 wounded. A mass shooting is defined as when three or more people are killed or injured by firearms violence.

 The Boulder shooter reportedly used an AR-type rifle, purchased the same day as the Atlanta shooting. Ironically, Boulder had, for the last two years, a ban on AR-type rifles, following the Margery Stoneman Douglas high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Less than two weeks before the shooting, a judge barred the City of Boulder from enforcing the ban, because of an older state law that barred municipalities from making their own firearms rules.

 The National Rifle Association cheered the ruling, “A Colorado judge gave law-abiding gun owners something to celebrate.”

Tell that to the ten grieving families.

 Paul vang’s new book, “Golden Years, Golden Hours,” is available at How Novel, The Second Edition, Isle of Books & Books, or online at http://writingoutdoors.com.

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