These waters bind us: to the river, the fish, the mountains that feed them, and the friends we share them with. Time spent on a trout stream is food for the soul, enjoying the natural cycles of the day and moods of the river. While fishing ebbs and flows throughout the day, we work together to figure it out, changing tactics and mindsets on the sight of a bug or a switch in the wind. In tune. Fly fishing tunes us to the river, the environment, each other.
Drawing upon a bond formed on the banks of the Big Hole river almost twenty years ago, I recently had the pleasure of fishing with a true master of the art of fly fishing, David Decker. Owner and outfitter of the Complete Fly Fisher in Wise River, Montana, David is like a father to those of us guides lucky enough to learn from him. I can truly say that everything I teach on the water today, starts with something I learned from David and the other veteran guides from the Complete Fly Fisher. Those bonds run deep as the gut of the Kispiox and wide as a Missouri river sunset.
So with Skwala stoneflies and March Brown mayflies hatching in full swing on the Bitterroot, a true master casting from the bow, and twelve miles all to ourselves, David and I shared another day to keep close to the heart. The fish were looking up, and nowhere was out of reach or out of drift. Everything is possible. We ran with the mood of the river, keeping and eye on the natural cycles and currents, knowing the next run may be jamming while this one is quiet.
Our bugs were Big Hole style tied by David the night before in Wise River: no foamy Bitterroot flare, just natural fibers and buggy proportions. Another lesson from the old days: keep it natural, simple, quick to tie. And they worked, well. The Bitterroot is really shaping up fine this year with consistent Skwala and mayfly hatches day after day. Our water is holding up good, with cooler temperatures and high country snow keeping the water locked up in the mountains to use later down the road; a fine summer awaits us. So here’s to old friends and teachers, and the waters that bind us together. All photographs in this post were taken by David on our trip, his love of the wild trout evident in yet another art form.