Saturday, July 30, 2011

What's wrong with this picture?

Don't look too hard, the answer is not in the picture at all.  This is Montana, it's beautiful, and it's summertime.  And if you're a bird hunter the summertime part is the problem seeing as it's neither legal nor very practical.  Right place, wrong time.  It doesn't stop a guy from thinking about how right the right time could be, though.  Driving through the valleys I stared at sheets of grass for miles wondering how many partridge were hiding underneath.  Life is a series of hits and misses.

This is my token post for the month of July. When it's 100 degrees outside, the grass is turning brown and not because it's going dormant, and when even dove season is still too far out to stir over it's a bit of a struggle to write about bird hunting.  There's just not much of it in the here and now and at times such as these it takes a stretch to tie it all together.

I spent last week in Montana (family wedding) and I don't want anyone to think I'm complaining.  It is simply beautiful, almost perfect, and I see why people go out there and never come back.  The reach of the scenery is beyond words.  Even though I couldn't put a dog on the ground and walk fields anchored at the edges by amazing hills I did manage to have an outstanding time.

There was, for a brief stretch of time, the possibility of doing some fishing.  Far better known for its dry fly bonanzas than wingshooting opportunities, Montana offers plenty to summertime anglers.  Except in years like this one.  Anyone who follows any fishing blog knows about the record snowpack out west, the runoff having muted much of the spring fishing season.  Every river we saw was full right up to the lip, not out of its banks but not offering one bit in the way of sand and shoreline.  We took the kids on a float down the Missouri one afternoon, putting in at Wolf Creek bridge and taking out at Craig, apparently a pretty popular stretch for fishers if judged by the number of drift boats in the water and trailers at each end.

I spoke to a few guides at the put in and the consensus was that they were catching a few on nymphs, nothing on dry flies (in spite of having to pull the caddis hatch out of my mouth to have a conversation), and if I really wanted to catch some fish I'd be better off waiting a week or two.  Easy to say if you live there I suppose.

I'm far too value-minded to console myself after shelling out $400 for a skunking by saying things like "Just being outside was worth it" or "It's not about how many fish you catch".  While I tend to agree with both statements when money is removed from the equation I can go sit on the bank for half a day with a line in the water and still have $400 to do something, oh, slightly more fulfilling or even necessary with.  So in the end I drifted past quite a few guys who paid their money for their intangible reward, never seeing a single tight line.

This little devil on the sign at the entrance to Yellowstone was the final bit of irony in a week that was but wasn't...

In the words of Nuke LaLoosh, "Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains."