Fly Fishing in Southwest Montana

Now as I Was Young and Easy…
For the past couple of weeks this poem was rattling around in my head.  Youtube has the late actor Richard Burton reading it that brings it alive.  What this has to do with fishing is a tough segue.  The poem does have something to do with life and fishing for us is life.  Right now that is the best I can do but there is something of value here.
Fern Hill
by Dylan Thomas
“Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honored among the wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daises and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.”   
The poem has more than a hint of spring along with the reminder that all things are fleeting.  April, May and June in Montana were kind and generous with good rains and mild temperatures.  Montana became a sea of green lush grass with rivers spilling over their banks.  We had wonderful days on the Big Hole  with the river swollen sliding through the cottonwoods.  We chased trout into the mountain section of the Big Hole seducing fish in the soft leeward currents.
Big Hole River
“And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.”
Our first Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing trip with disabled veterans on the Smith River occurred the second week in May.  The first day the weather was warm bringing a rush of melting snow into the river.  The second day a north wind came along with snow in the high country, which slowed the run off.  The following days the Gods favored us as we picked trout off in eddies and inside seams.  We floated for sixty miles with six veterans and a staff of eight.  The trip is five days and four nights and is the stuff that dreams are made.
Camp above
Smith River
“All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
And playing, lovely and watery
And fire as green as grass
And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars
Flying with the ricks, and the horses
Flashing into the dark.”
There is a tangible relief in witnessing a drought end.  We aren’t bracing for a low water year.  In June, the Ruby River was running high along with the Madison, Beaverhead, Jefferson and Big Hole.  The private water we relied on for the last two years is resting.  The real abundance of fishing in Montana is taking place with water everywhere.  The world appears benign which for fishermen means dry fly fishing occurs.
Mike from Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing
“And then to awake, and the farm, like a wander white
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all
Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
The sky gathered again
And the sun grew round that very day,
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
Out of the whinnying green stable
On to the fields of praise.”
July 4 seven disabled veterans from Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing were our guests at Healing Waters Lodge.   They were hosted by some dedicated customers, who floated and fished for a greater good.  It is a true privilege to witness the unbridled joy of someone’s first trout.  But, for many fishermen every trout feels like the first fish which becomes unbound joy.
Jonathan from Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing and Guide Terry
“And honored among the foxes and pheasants by the gay house
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
In the sun born over and over,
I ran my heedless ways,
My wishes raced through the house high hay
And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
Before the children green and golden
Follow him out of grace”
If I have moments of grace in both temperament and action they seem to come when I am fly fishing.  There is something noble in releasing a fish that makes us better.  The high idea of character is doing the right thing when no one is watching.  Releasing a fish unharmed back into a stream reinforces this ideal; and as guides we try to release as many in fish in a day as we can.
“Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land,
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.”
July 18 and I just got off the Ruby River.  The sun is round and high with the hay being cut and piled high in the fields.  I am no longer green or carefree and time becomes the commodity I treasure most.  There is no better time to fish and be alive than today.  If you want to defeat time, grab your fly rod and give us call.  We know some fine places to fish.