I caught a fish! Well, actually 3 trout, but who’s keeping track?
Last weekend, my brother and I ventured up to Big Sky, Montana to visit our dad and step-mom. This is a solid 9 to 10 hour drive, so we don’t get up there as often as we would like, but it is like the place for us. You know how people just have a place where they feel at home and relaxed and like it is separated from the rest of the world? Yeah, Big Sky is it for Stetson and me. Which may seem a bit strange since we did not grow up there and my dad and Stacey just moved there about 3 years ago. But, that was our vacation spot growing up. We would go on hikes (and at the time I literally dreaded our hike days more than anything—they would tell me that when we got to the top I would get a peanut butter and honey sandwich, so I also hated those for a long time), Stetson and I would spend all day swimming, and we would fish.
Yes, I did used to fish with my family. I had a bright pink Berkley Nibbler spin rod, that I used. It came with a bright pink plastic fish that I would tie right on to the end. That way I was guaranteed to reel in a fish every time! I loved it; it drove Stetson absolutely nuts.
After going up to Big Sky so often, my dad took up fly fishing. Then, a couple of years later the rest of us did too. But, I lost interest around age 12 (shocking that a junior high girl didn’t want to participate with the rest of the family fun, right?). So, when the family would head out for the day I would tag-along with my book and hang out on shore.
Recently, though, not fishing just doesn’t make sense. My dad, Stacey, and Stetson are all very skilled fly fisher-people. My mother’s soon-to-be-husband has an awesome cabin right on the river. Brady loves fishing all summer long. So, for Christmas I asked for a fly rod and reel, and now I don’t have to be just the tag-along.
Of course, if you have been reading, you know that I’ve gone out fishing a few times already. Mostly, it was practice casting, untangling knots, and relationship testing (with Brady being my teacher, but so far we have come out completely unscathed).
And this weekend it finally paid off in actual fish!
Like I said, the drive is long, so Stetson and I got up to Big Sky just a bit after midnight. Then, we stayed up for quite some time having a few drinks and catching up. Which put us in bed right around 2 in the morning. But, we were up and at ‘em at 7 a.m. next morning! Well, Teton mostly forced me to get up, regardless of how it happened though, I was ready to go.
My dad, my brother, his dog, my step-mom, and myself all headed out on the lower Madison River. And we looked like complete Griswolds. Seriously within about a hundred yards Stetson had caught his first fish. And honestly as I was watching him reel it in, I got my first bite and set the hook!
It was a bit chaotic: my dad trying to row and coach me up on how to land the fish, Stetson reeling in his first catch, Camden getting used to the whole boat concept and really wanting to see the fish, Stacey attempting to net both of our catches, and me yelling about not doing anything but having a fish! Of course, Stetson was pretty indignant because Stacey jumped out of the boat to net my fish for me, while he claims his was close enough to slap against the side of the boat and she didn’t make a move. Mainly, he was just jealous because my brown trout was bigger.
Now, I know catching a fish in the first 100 yards has you thinking I am an expert fly-fisher. Obviously. But, that is not entirely true. My dad kept telling me to “get my tip up” and I kept raising my pole higher and higher… only to sink lower and lower into my power squat. Which completely reverses the whole point of having my tip up. I get into this really awkward squat position whenever I am doing something new, or that I am not very good at. I just always have. To this day if you ever see me skiing—cross country or downhill—I will get into the world’s most awkward looking squat, with my knees all knocked in because I am super flat-footed. I even do it if I get really excited while I’m talking about something.
And, no, the squat does not help you catch fish. Really, I caught fish in spite of the squat.
After, our incredibly eventful first 10 minutes of fishing, we kept going for the better part of the day. Just with a little less action. I kept on the massive and ugly fly that I caught my first fish on (it was so big, it took some time to get used to casting with it), and managed to catch another fish a few hours later. This one I feel like I really earned. It wasn’t like the first where my fly seemed to be just floating there for the world’s laziest fish to grab. This second one was a really pretty rainbow trout. Stets caught probably 5 or 6 more throughout that day. And thank goodness we had my dad and Stacey to help me handle all of my snags and questions and hitting Stetson in the face with my rod.
The next day we took a much more laid back approach. We went out for a late brunch. Stopped so I could pick up some waders of my very own (I got these Patagonia ones and cannot tell you how much I love them!). Then headed down to the Gallatin for a few hours. It was pretty darn cold, and the water was still super muddy (or chocolately as the more hip fishermen say), so we weren’t expecting much.
That’s exactly how I like my fishing. Expectations low, with a good excuse if I get skunked.
Surprisingly, I did manage to pull out a nice trout right before we packed up. At first, Stetson had this spot where he pulled out three right in a row. And he gave me the spot—which is about the nicest thing you can do while fishing as far as I am concerned—but I managed to pull out exactly zero fish. So, we moved on and luckily I was able to snag one at our new hole.
Unfortunately, after just tearing it up fishing (yes, I consider three trout to be “tearing it up”) we had to face a 10 hour drive back to Laramie. In order to make that drive a bit less miserable, my brother decided stopping for fishing pit stop would be necessary. Now, I really, really, hate a change in my plan. A lot. But, I decided it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, since our entire day would be spent in the car anyway, so I went along with it.
We headed over to a little area of the Madison River between Hebgen Lake and Eatchquake Lake. Of course, Stetson caught fish while I didn’t. Most likely because he had a better attitude going into it. A little fishing karma, I guess. But the stop still wasn’t a loss for me. It was ridiculously gorgeous and both of the dogs got to enjoy running around for a little while.
Basically, I have come to this conclusion: in order for me to catch fish I needed to get back to my Montana roots. Now, that I have a couple of Montanan trout under my belt, I think I can take on the Wyoming fish.
Thanks for reading,