Fly Fishing In Southwest Montana

Perchance to Fish
April 1: A friend sent me this video with the title “No Fishing”.
Marmot scream
Marmot scream
April 9: Montana is in lockdown until April 10. Healing Waters Lodge isn’t opening until May 18. Guides, outfitters and lodge owners begin to think of career changes. In times of crisis, 9/11, the Great Recession, and the NFL strike, we are left with few vocational opportunities. My pal and fellow outfitter, guide and lodge owner Brandon Boedecker of PRO Outfitters says the only alternative occupational avenues for guides and outfitters are to become real estate agents, bartenders or screenwriters. I love watching TV. Does this qualify me? Screenwriting has an appeal. I could be like William Holden in Sunset Boulevard smoking Camels, wisecracking, down and out living on the edge. I am going to shop around for 1947 Buick, I like the look.  I turn on the TV and see a stake entering a Vampire’s heart. The attacker screams, “Die you Mother F…. die” and I am thinking I could write this. Maybe even class it up with “Perchance to die, you Mother F….” In the background, I would have Ahmad Jamal playing Poinciana giving the recently greased vampire an air of cool and hipness.
April 10: I am suffering from writer’s block already. I bought a ten-foot, three weight Orvis Recon along with a Hydros three weight reel for something called Euro-nymphing. You have super long leaders, you splice in yellow monofilament calling it a sighter, then attach a metal clip to add more tippet and you become a fish nymphing machine.  You don’t cast, but lob 18 feet of monofilament into the water and conjure up Edith Piaf’s singing La Vie En Rose. You need to find a piece of water with a riffle that drops into the pool. The flies enter the riffle descending into the pool. The long leader with no strike indicator offers a pure natural drift that is supposed to translate into a fish. We have had a few French anglers at Healing Waters Lodge and they make you a believer in this technique.
April 15: As as a young man I read Ezra Pound’s Collected Poems. Inside the Collected Poems is where I discovered the Chinese Poet Li Po (701-762 a.d.). I found him accessible, lyrical and moving. This poem is titled Taking Leave of a Friend and I hope it gives some solace:
Blue mountains lie beyond the north wall,
Round the city’s eastern side flows the white water
Here we part, friend, once forever.
You go ten thousand miles, drifting away
Like an unrooted water-grass.
Oh, the floating clouds and the thoughts of a wanderer!
Oh, the sunset and the longing of an old friend!
We ride away from each other, waving our hands,
While our horses neigh softly, softly….
April 23: The Governor has slowly committed to opening the state. People can fish and use fishing sites. The Smith River opens up for use on May 5. There is a 14-Day Quarantine in place for travelers arriving in Montana. The Governor is emphasizing a gradual opening. We now become part of the lives vs. livelihood dilemma.
April 25: The NFL draft ends and the Seahawks could still use an edge rusher. Note to Seahawk management, time is fleeting, do not squander the Russell Wilson years.
April 26: This was supposed to be the first day of our “Fish Like A Guide, But, Live Like A Client” fly fishing school at Healing Waters Lodge.  We have beautiful weather with rivers in good shape. Laura and I are workers. We are mowing lawns, painting, repairing sprinklers, hauling away deadfall cottonwood trees. Over the winter, we had that last two guest bathrooms remodeled and added another guest room in a renovated barn. Plus, we had all of our buildings re-roofed. A business like a shark, it must keep moving forward or it will die. We are always moving forward… The April and May fly fishing schools have been moved to October 1.  This school will be five days of immersion fishing therapy and six nights lodging.
April 28: Another beautiful day. Laura and I fished a small creek on the ranch next door. She goes upstream and I go downstream. The creek is about 2 feet wide with plenty of trout slashing for a small streamer. The world becomes benevolent and kind again.
Trout Release
You gently hold on to life while watching it go…
May 1: I finish the novel Stalingrad by Vasily Grossman which is a warm up for his 1000-page novel, Life and Fate. 65 million people perished in World War 2. Highly recommend reading Rick Atkinson’s Liberation Trilogy, a history of the European War from North Africa to Berlin. Kirk Hudson is a both a friend and customer whose opinion I have valued for years. He recommends Nigel Hamilton’s Roosevelt trilogy. UPS just dropped off my copies.
The recommendations for books, movies, series and music from our customers has been wonderful and a real gift.
Books:
The Way of a Transgressor by Negley Ferguson. More than just a fishing book.
Edmund Burke, The First Conservative by Jesse Norman.
The Infidel and the Professor by Dennis Rasmussen. About the relationship between Adam Smith and David Hume.
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts big brawling novel of India and the Underworld.
The Unwomanly Face of War by Nobel Prize winner, Svetlana Alexievich, is based on a series of interviews she conducted with Russian women about their involvement in World War 2. This is an exceptional work.
Movies, Series and Music:
Downfall is a movie about the last days of Hitler.  Hitler liked dogs which does nothing to mollify the nightmare he created.  Hitler is evil and he seduced a nation.  This is a horror movie for adults.
Babylon Berlin is a German detective series set in Berlin in the 1920’s. You have the Commies, Czarists, Nazi’s, Cabaret music, murder and drugs. Wonderful family entertainment, what could go wrong.
Generation War is another German production centered on five characters in World War 2 with the action taking place in Berlin and the Eastern Front.
Band of Brothers it the best series I have ever seen.  It follows Easy company from Boot Camp, to Normandy and finally Germany.
The French Village is a French series about an occupied village in France in World War 2. I watched every season and miss the characters.
Herrens Veje aka Ride Upon the Storm is a Danish series about a family of Danish vicars that was thoughtful, poignant and important.  There isn’t another series where they elucidate the implications of Soren Kierkegaard’s Existential Loneliness.  For fly fishers think dry fly or wet fly, while staring into the abyss.
Bosch series on Amazon. The LA detective Harry Bosch to paraphrase a description of Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe “is a white knight in a dirty city.” Love every season.
Hillary Hahn playing Bach; I play this every morning since the virus took hold. Hillary playing the violin is so personal and expressive, I think she is touched by the Divine.
May 3: We are working toward opening the lodge on May 18 to an empty house. We received PPP money and our staff will be busy cleaning, sanitizing every surface, trying out new recipes and menus, getting the lodge organized and preparing for our guests. We will adapt our meal service to ensure social distancing and protection of our guests and staff. Masks and hand sanitizer will be readily available to all guests and employees.
For our guests on the Smith River, we are offering single-tents for anyone that desires one.  With 60 river miles to move around in, we have literally no problem doing social distancing. We will supply masks and anywhere you turn there will be a bottle of hand sanitizer.
Healing Waters Lodge is adapting and moving forward, in 2020 and 2021 and 2022…and beyond.
Healing Waters Lodge was recently awarded the Orvis 2020 Endorsed Fly-Fishing Lodge of the Year. We are honored by this award and firmly believe it acknowledges the hard work and dedication of the wonderful people employed at Healing Waters Lodge. The staff here is committed to providing excellence in customer service.
May 7: While we await for the Governor to explain the 14-day quarantine. The news this morning reported another 3.5 million unemployed Americans, bringing the 7-week total to 33.5 million, and an unemployment rate of 14.7%. I am back to considering becoming a screenwriter. Problem is you have to write something.
“The snow melts, the rivers cleared and the trout begin to rise. This always happens in the spring but this year is different.”
Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter.
Sincerely, Mike Geary