The wind was blowing and I could see streams of snow working their way across the lower portions of the Madison Valley. I think I was watching some Canada Geese along the bank and wondering if they would spook or hold their turf. Geese are on the nests now and I always wonder at which point will they feel the urge to fight versus flee. They fled and my attention turned back to the angler that I was guiding for the day.
Water temperatures are cold right now and most of the Rainbows are either spawning or will be very soon. The “boat fishing” hasn’t been great as of late, but getting out or anchoring up and working likely holding water has been reliable day in and day out. I was standing next to the angler, just downstream and out of the way of any errant backcast. I didn’t really need to try to avoid anything that day, but some things just become second nature with time. He made a nice cast, up and across, threw a mend, then another mend. The drift began just as the flies were coming off another spectacular gravel ledge somewhere between Varney and Ennis Lake..it could have been anywhere.
The line came tight with a 15” Rainbow jumping a few times, tearing of this way and then another. We released it a minute or two later and worked our way back into position to setup another drift.
Lunch had been an hour before and we had a lot of fish to hand by then so the pressure was well beyond the pint of gone. I could watch the Geese, the Sandhill Cranes, and the steady change of water without the guilt that comes with neglecting my instructional duties for a few minutes.
The angler then told me that he loves to fish and that this is the only week of the year that he will be able to fish. He looks forward to these moments all year long and was thankful for places like this. He thanked me for helping make his one week of fishing so much fun the last couple of years. He gave me a different perspective on the day at that moment and I thought I should thank him.
I love being a fishing guide in Southwest Montana, particularly right now when the fish are feeding, the grass is turning green, snow is falling in the mountains, life is renewing everywhere around us, and the water is clean and cold. It is a good life that I have and yes, I do enjoy watching others fall for this sport the way I did in my early 20’s.