Fishers and hunters are made, not born. Sure, some folks tend to have interests and desires to celebrate the outdoors, but it may require a mentor or guide. For generations, potential candidates have been shown the trailheads to the watersheds and hunting grounds.
Recently I shared a fishing day with a new candidate. Sue, a retired teacher from Maryland, and a lifelong friend. For years, she has endured my stories and adventures in the outdoors. After over 40 years as a teacher, she asked me to share my love of fly fishing with her. Sue, along with her husband John, had never cast or fished. They both recently retired and were now celebrating their earned free time together. They came all the way to Montana to get a fishing lesson!
We started with some casting tips using both a fly rod and a spinning rod. The methods are different, but usually some prefer one over the other. Our drift would be along the lower Madison River. We would put in at Warm Springs and take out at Damselfly Access. Montana weather was as usual, unpredictable. This would be the first “cold” day of the fall. Fishing would be slow, and nymphs would be the choice of the day.
The one thing about fishing is that there is not one thing! Every aspect of fishing requires a new tip, trick, or skill. Tying knots, casting, building a leader, matching a hatch, reading the water, seeing a strike, setting the hook, etc. There is always something new to learn. Experienced anglers normally learn a new trick every time they venture out.
We boarded the drift boat and began the float. Fall colors were already showing their final brilliance before winter. Flights of mergansers and ducks were escorting us. A shore lunch, some drinks, and snacks always add to the experience.
Few insects were visible, but a fish must eat. We drifted double rigs of caddis and larger nymphs. I attached 3 spaced Palsa indicators, several feet up the leader. Each strike indicator was a different color of hot pink, chartreuse, or orange. This way, a rookie can see the strike and manage a smooth drift.
For the most part my new anglers did as directed. Their casting was adequate, and they took advice willingly. I answered many great questions. Both had some action as trout struck their nymphs or chased a spinner. Sue was seeing the strikes but could not figure out how to set the hook. Finally, the strike indicator stopped, and Sue struck!
“FISH ON!” Watching a new fisher catch their first fish never gets old. The squeals, yells, and excitement remind us of the joy of fishing. Size doesn’t matter. The moment is gigantic and will never be forgotten. The brown trout was netted and released after a few pictures were taken. Care of the Catch and Released trout was paramount.
We never catch enough fish. That’s why we keep going fishing. The excitement is a healthy addiction that will never be satisfied. Sue is already talking about gear, places to fish, boots and new adventures. Seeing Montana from the bow of a drift boat is amazing. Another candidate is hooked for life!
Tight lines and screaming reels!
For more Montana Grant, catch him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.