Anyone who has experienced opening day fishing knows the feeling of not being able to sleep in anticipation of what morning brings. It seemed as though I had slept only an hour or two when I awoke at 6 AM in my log home in Montana, rented via VRBO. As I rushed downstairs to make a pot of coffee I was thinking to myself, was the day ahead on the Bitterroot River with guide Kurt Long of Grizzly Hackle Guides to be the greatest?
Kurt was recommended to me by my fishing guide and friend in Bend Oregon Damien Nurre. He told me that Kurt was the best in all Montana, and just a crazy guy, which fits the description of most fishing guides I have experienced. As the day progressed, I found that Damien was correct, on both counts. Kurt Long who guides for the Grizzly Hackle in Missoula is the guy you want if you want to fly fish the famous waters of the area. I have made a friend for life.
Now back to the story. My wife Marsha and I packed up our fishing gear, and our ten week old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Oliver, and left the cabin we had rented on the Rock Creek. We arrived at 9 AM at the Hackle where we met Kurt. First expression..not impressed. Here’s my guide, in flip flops, old shorts and shirt, and shades to cover the red eye I’m sure was beneath. Oh well, time would tell I guess. Then I remembered my guide of 15 years in Alaska on the Kenai River, Kyle. I usually have to wake him up in his old trailer and feed him coffee to nudge him back to reality from the bars the night before. But my fishing is always excellent with Kyle, because he’s the best on the river.
So off we go to load our gear into the drift boat, when what to my dismay, I find we will be fishing in a smaller rubber raft fishing boat. Crap! what will we do with all our gear, and then there’s Oliver in his special kennel. As we begin situating everything, Kurt assures we will be fine, and then he spots my gear, and comments on how usually clients have not so good equipment. He admires my Orvis and custom RL Winston rods, and I begin to feel a successful day ahead.
When we get to the Bitterroot River to launch and start our day, I watch as Kurt secures Oliver’s travel kennel to the seat next to him. He tells us not to worry, he will take good care of the little guy. For the next nine hours we traveled a good portion of the Bitterroot, catching an abundance of trout, some excellent in size. Of course, as responsible fly fishermen and woman, we always catch and release.
The moral of this story is that everyone needs to go out and do something in nature, see the beauty, and live life. You may not be a fly fisherman or woman, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Guides work with you and gracefully show you how to catch fish, and you don’t even have to handle them, he or she will. The fact is that my wife Marsha only fly fished once before and that was with Kyle once in Alaska, but by te end of this day, she was casting like an expert..almost.
So get out there, explore the opportunities, try scuba diving, skiing, surfing, fishing, or any activity that you have never done before. You will see the endless possibilities.
And yes, at the end of the day, this was our reward.