2011 was well, tough but rewarding.
Low water on the Root in Mid March with some of the best skwala fishing ever/ with big fish up on big drakes through April. Another stellar Spring dry fly season.
Then there was high water and lots of driving to the MO. And by the way how many years do I have to guide the Missouri out of Craig MT before I am considered a Missouri guide? (I’ve Guided the Mo 9 years) “Why are you Missoula guides always coming over here?” a guide asks me while I’m dropping my drift boat in at Wolf Creek. My response “well you guys are here for the same reason I am, every thing else is blown !!!!” To my self I’m thinking you Boz Angeles guys would get your ass handed to you on the Bitterroot or the Clark fork, kinda like I’d get my ass handed to me on the Jeff, well maybe.”
Ok I row 110 days on the Bitterroot, Clark Fork, Black Foot and Rock Creek a year and I do consider this my home water. But I work 50 or so on the MO a season, And son of a bitch I can guide this river with the best. I love the fish, the people, the scenery, the wildlife, and the overall feel of the MO. And not to mention it is loaded, I mean Loaded with monster rainbows and browns!
I have two clients, we are driving 20 miles east of Missoula headed to Craig and I see a deer crossing the road, wait it has a long tail,” mother -%%&e$ that’s a mountain lion” I yell. Then 3 more mountain lions, yearling cubs, they are slightly smaller, follow their mom and cross high way 200. We get along side them and they lope over a meadow, and they are kind of bounding with their long tails into the timber.
I feel it may look like a scene from the African plains. We’re all grabbing cameras/ I phones trying to get photos as they disappear. Mike M and Doc, 2 clients from New Jersey are like “wow do you see those often?” I reply ” are you kidding me , I’ve been hunting deer, elk, and fishing in the mountains in MT for 30 years and I’ve only seen 3 in my life.” That was definitely some cool shit!!
I like snakes and have caught garter snakes, bull snakes, grass snakes, green racers, and even a couple of rubber boas in my lifelong pursuit of snakes. This early summer was the year of the snake and I saw more bull snakes and rattlers than I ever have.
I stopped and helped a 5 foot bull snake move off of the pavement next to Stickney creek. My clients freaked and screamed. “Kill that damn thing, run it over!” “Why, these snakes are here for a reason. They are part of this ecosystem, eating rats, being snakes, they are good to have around, they are harmless.” I replied. I’ve never understood the notion of killing things because you aren’t comfortable with them.
A few days later I’m driving out of Wolf Creek, my clients drove back to Helena and I am headed to Missoula solo. I see a monster rattler laying presumably dead/ squashed on the road. I dynamite the breaks, grab my leatherman, thinking this snake won’t miss his rattles too much now that he’s hit, and walk over to get a rattlesnake tail for my boy. I get within a couple of feet of this prairie rattler and he coils up and starts buzzing. I jump back, whoa, nothing wrong with this snake and he’s pissed, probably not willing to give up his rattles. ” Cya bud”
As I walk past my trailered drift boat I reach into my cooler and grab my 2nd and last PBR. I hop in my truck, the sun is starting to break into the mountains to the west. I finish my pre snake PBR that’s getting warm and I wonder what’s more dangerous drinking two beers and driving, or trying to cut rattles off live rattle snakes?