Fall Fishing in Montana
This is one of the first years where I have spent the entirety of the fall in Montana. Prior to this year I would visit Bozeman for a couple of days here and there, but after moving to Bozeman to attend Montana State University I have been enjoying the crisp morning air, the changing of colors on the trees, and the unforgettable days on the water.
I try and get out on the water two or three times a week. With classes and work it has been more difficult than before, but I have managed to sneak out for a few hours with some buddies on the weekends in between studying and other extracurricular activities.
One of my more memorable times on the water occurred just a few weeks ago. It was a cool morning, one where fall had introduced itself quite abruptly. The kind of morning where a coffee was essential before rigging up, and the fleece pants underneath the waders were a nice touch to the layering system.
John and I had met not two weeks before in our Writing class, and became friends as soon as we started talking fishing. In writing class our instructor gives us prompts to generate our ideas and thoughts before discussion, and when we are asked to share we typically describe something in our responses that revolves around fly fishing.
It was the second day on the same piece of water. We had returned because the first day had been unbelievable, and we were skeptical as to in the fish would perform like they did two days in a row.
We were fishing streamers on our first day, and found many fish willing to take. John had visited this spot only once before and had a feeling it had some potential with a streamer. I had not fished streamers outside of a few guided trips a couple of years ago, and was curious as to what would happen.
Our streamer patterns, 3-5 inches in length and articulated, were doing the trick the day before. Articulated streamer patterns have two hooks, and add the flies’ motion and attractiveness in the water when retrieved. I had a couple of Sculpzilla patterns in my box that I was excited to try, and John was fishing a fly he had been developing for this specific piece of water.
To our surprise, the second day on the water was better than our first. The browns were hungry and on the move, and John and I both found fish pushing 18 inches. The fish would eat hard, and fought harder. We were trying lots of different patterns and colors throughout the day, but came to the conclusion that olive and black colored streamers produced the highest numbers.
Many fish came to hand over that weekend, lots of excited interactions and laughter were exchanged, and John and I both had a blast. I find it so neat that you can meet someone who is from a different state and become connected through this sport. John and I met in Writing class and started talking fishing after I saw some of the stickers on his laptop. Next thing I knew we were planning out our weekend on the water.
Experiences like these bring people together faster than anything else. No amount of interactions at a coffee shop, passes in the library, or tilts of the hat in the dorm. Connecting with another person, netting their fish, yelling and smiling on the bank, and releasing the fish are moments that I have shared with John, my Dad and Grandpa, and many others
This sport continues to amaze me with its capabilities to connect people, and for that I am forever grateful.
The colors on the trees are stunning and the cool air is refreshing as I walk to Writing class on Monday morning. I wonder what John and I will talk about in the few minutes before we are prompted to write in our notebooks. If I were to take a guess, it’s going to be about fishing.
Photos and Words by Ben Nelson of The Angler’s Hatch.