Streamers & Dreamers

The Professor arrived a few days earlier so he was waiting for me when I landed in Butte last week. It felt so good to be back in Montana – cool air, mustard-color autumn trees, bright skies, and snow capped mountains. The rigors and responsibility of everyday life vaporized on contact. We made our way to Dillon where we poked around, ran some errands and prepared for the first day of our fall fishing vacation. After much deliberation we decided to kick things off on The Big Hole.

Ooh la la, I am having a mad love affair with The Big Hole River!

brown closeup dreamyI fell hard for this eerie, dreamy stream last summer. It was my first time to fish on the Big Hole and my first time to fish with The Professor. Both adventures were delightfully successful, so I was thrilled to launch our fall excursion there as well.

Oh, I’ve got it bad for the Big Hole alright….majestic mountain views, swift moving current, tea-colored water. A canyon that wraps you up then presents you to a gorgeous valley as if introducing a visitor from a foreign land. And let’s not overlook the remote Montana dive bars — or the aggressive trout that are just as native and just as wild.

The one thing I’ve learned on The Big Hole is that I have much to learn about fishing.

PA210001 That’s where The Professor comes in. He’s not really a professor mind you. It’s just another tongue-in-cheek nickname, although I can’t take credit for this one. His three nephews dubbed him The Professor since he taught each one of them, as they came up through the ranks, to fish for trout on a flyrod. Casting, rowing, flies, knots, boat etiquette, netting techniques. He passed on everything he’s picked up over the years.

These days his nephews are well into their twenties and fishing on their own. The Professor needed a new project and graciously took me under wing. Of course there are many people who deserve credit for teaching me to fish and teaching me to love to fish – namely my parents. But in the spirit of continuous improvement, The Professor has taken a keen interest in fishing with me.

PA210016Plus, we have a hell of a good time together on the water.

Last week was no exception. At first The Professor was startled to learn that I had very little experience streamer fishing. (Here we go again with the assumptions!) But he dug deep into his gear bag for a hearty dose of patience and an irresistible streamer pattern. With each cast, I threw out that big ole streamer and a little dash of hope. Whoa! There is nothing quite like seeing those fish follow that streamer, sometimes all the way to the boat. I’m happy to report that in its never-ending quest for dominance, my passion won out over my inexperience on this particular day.

PA210004The brown trout on this river are a different breed. First of all, the colors are exquisite. The yellowy-green is electric and intoxicating. And the red dots are magnificent. I have to say, this fish was particularly bejeweled.

The other thing I’ve learned from some trout that have mocked me on The Big Hole is that, once hooked, they behave differently than they do on The Missouri. Most of the big Missouri browns will hunker down before a dash downstream. As long as you stay focused and don’t horse them, you can often lure them to the net with the mind control of a snake charmer. But twice now I have broken off some big Big Hole trout that laughed at me over their undoubtedly hefty shoulders as they sped upstream in heavy current faster than I could mutter “3X Say What?”

PA220019 Our second day on the Big Hole offered slightly less action. We started out of the gate early and were hopeful, but things slowed down as we drifted through the canyon. 

No worries though because The Professor put me on the sticks and coached me on my rowing. Since I learned to row on the Missouri, it was a new challenge to these navigate faster waters and hidden rocks.

PA220023I couldn’t just cruise along, telling stories and watching him fish, I had to look downstream and pay attention to where we were going….constantly. And I heard “C’mon now, you better dig in and pull us away from this rock!” quite a number of times. I’m still not sure how to power stroke when you’re in shallow water. But that’s okay, much to learn in the rower’s seat, and I love it.

PA220024As our second day on the Big Hole neared its end, The Professor reminded me of yet another important lesson: perseverance. We’d been fishless for awhile, and my mind was drifting to the heater in the truck and a burger at the bar in Melrose. But The Professor, who is not one to go easy on me, made me fish out the last half mile with a sense of urgency. Thank goodness he did because we ended the day just above the takeout with this Big Hole calling card.

There is nothing better than topping off a cold day of fishing with comfort food, draft beer, and a jukebox stocked with Merle Haggard. Add some red wine and it’s a veritable fly-fishing fairytale. It was a magical time on The Big Hole to be sure. Throwing streamers, flirting with The Professor, hooking up with beautiful browns. Proving once again that on a trout stream in Montana, dreams really do come true.

10 thoughts on “Streamers & Dreamers

  1. The Big Hole-one of my favorites! Have not made it out there in the fall yet, but have hit it a few times in the early and late summer. If you hit it at the right time, the browns can be tremendous A friend of mine guides out of Dillon and he has sent me some pics of some absolute hogs caught in the fall.

    Looks like you had a great time.

  2. Harry — share some of those big hole pics from your buddy in dillon. bet they’re great!

    Josh — Thanks for the accolades on my writing. Nice to be appreciated for my mind

    Oatka — Thanks for the accolades on my beauty. Better to be appreciated for good looks

    kidding!
    (sort of.)

    Anotoine Smoking — am pretty sure you are a phantom ISP spam commenter. or Bruce Willis. Either way I kinda like the whacked out comment.

  3. FFC says: “Josh — Thanks for the accolades on my writing. Nice to be appreciated for my mind”

    Excuse me….are you under the impression that anyone of us including me, was captured by anything else but your writing, FFC, you have a wonderful imagination if so……Heheheheheh.

    Ok, so the smile helps and the ponytail (you cut off) and your sence of humor but the most important is the confidence…along with that little “smartass attitude” which probably drove mom and dad nuts in your younger days.

    Nice work young lady….Grade A Class.

  4. Hello Fly Fish Chick,
    Up to my ears in work and web orders, your regular postings become my fishing adventures.
    Keep up the good work for you keep me sane, and one day I will brush off the rods and reels, book a ticket and head off to the US of A for some adventures of my own.
    Regards
    Alan

  5. Montana really honestly seems like a beautiful place. The only problem for me is that it is too far away from the ocean which I absolutely love. I live in massachusetts and it just seems so much more laid back out there in Montana. Down to earth chicks that wear cowgirl hats and go fishing etc… must be nice!

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