Fly-Fishing in Montana – Beyond Peace and Beauty in the Majesty of the Mountains

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Fly fishing in Montana is synonymous with surfing in Hawaii. It is poetry in motion; an art form disguised as a sport. From the moment you whip the line over your shoulder in the four-count rhythm and hear the line cutting through the air, you become addicted.

For the beginner, there are basic moves, like the 10 and 2 approach, which simply describes the range of arm movements, from 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock on the timepieces we used before digital became the fashion. From this basic fly-casting 101 repetition, you will evolve your own rhythm of casting: something that you are comfortable with.

As you develop your skills, you can learn how to perfect the advanced technique called shadow casting which keeps the line and fly above the water. This casts shadows of an insect flying across the water over the head of the target fish, supposedly submerged and lying in wait for just such a lunchtime invitation. The fisher who masters this technique is considered more artist than fisherman.

Some, like my brother, argue that the best part is actually catching a fish, though I believe it is more about the experience for him. He will fish on a daily basis at any river he happens to pass by. And I know for a fact that he’s not all that fond of fish as a meal. He merely loves fishing for the recreational leisure it brings.

As for me, I too, am happy to simply stand on the bank, whipping the line, seeing the fly dance on the surface of the water. In my mind’s eye, I see myself on the river, rod and line in hand, and can relish the experience, fish or no fish, river or no river.

If you are a novice, you’ll begin with dry flies. The fly sits on the surface of the water, and is much easier to visualize when a fish has swallowed it. The other option is to use a nymph. A regular dry fly is intended to mimic insects such as a mayfly, caddis fly or stonefly in its adult phase. A nymph is just the same insect but in an immature state. Nymph fishing requires more skill of the fisher since the nymph sits just below the surface. This can be one of the most frustrating experiences for the novice fisherman or woman. The dinnertime bonus to perfecting your skills with the nymph is that the fabulously delicious trout are primarily sub-surface insect eaters, and with increased skill comes a matching increase in the bounty of gastronomic pleasures.

There are four major rivers in Montana that are well known for their appeal to anglers; the Gallatin, Missouri, Yellowstone and Blackfoot. Coincidentally, all of these rivers lie in Western Montana. The most beloved is the Blackfoot River, which winds through the Lolo National Forest near Missoula. This river was made famous nearly overnight by the movie A River Runs Through It back in 1992. The Lolo National Forest attracts all kinds of recreational enthusiasts due to the breathtaking landscape and combination of forest, mountains, and river. Anglers love it best for the world class rainbow and brown trout that swim within its currents. The Blackfoot River is the most heavily used river in Montana but at 130 miles long, there is still plenty of elbow room. Any local will tell you it is easy to find that perfect secluded spot to fish. Whether you prefer wading into the Blackfoot River or standing on the bank, you become engulfed in a peaceful bond with your surroundings. The beauty is unparalleled.

Outfitters in Montana are plentiful and right there waiting to take you out into the vastness and wildness that is Montana’s outdoor recreational masterpiece to hunt or fish to your heart’s desire. A week with an outfitter to go fly fishing will easily set you back a few thousand dollars per person. But for those of us that live here, we have the luxury of simply venturing into our 145,552 square mile ‘backyard’ to enjoy this recreational bliss any time we want. You simply can’t put a price on that.

write by torres

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