Day 2 was mainly a driving day, so with another 6 hours on the road I found myself in the rain heading toward Bozeman. Now I heard that this town was pretty fishy, and from what I gathered in data over the next day confirmed that.
Seems like this town has a huge audience for the sport of fly fishing and is generally what I would consider a town made up of avid outdoorsman/women. Everywhere you go there is sign of this. Whether by a sticker on their rig, or the gear they are wearing – you can tell that Bozeman folks love them some outdoors.
I pulled into town. after driving the Continental Divide and some snow flurries going through Butte, in the late afternoon and found that my Sprint connection seemed to have reached a dead-zone. It seems that one of the things I needed to fix right away was connectivity since this whole project hinges on my ability to stay in touch with the audience online.
Therefore I would need to park the bus somewhere I could get some interwebs and for free. Thus I found myself in the parking lot of Walmart poaching some WiFi from the McDonalds and also the local Comfort Inn. I ended up spending most of the evening frustrated and decided to pack it in for the night and fix the problem in the AM.
Day 3 started out pretty simple, just getting my feet under where I was and grabbing a 5 Hour Energy from the box along with a couple granola bars for breakfast. I then tried to figure out where I should head first – Fly Shop or Verizon. Well of course the Fly Shop wins every time and I ended up over at Montana Troutfitters.
Needing some local knowledge and a license I happened upon this place and found a boot washing station at the front of the shop with a Trout Unlimited logo and a bunch of other logos on it. Wow! That’s a pretty great concept, and shows the commitment the locals around here have to protecting their waters!!
Jake and the crew there got me all licensed up and offered some flies I might need locally for the few days I would be here. Jake even took down my information and said he would pass it on to the local Madison – Gallatin Chapter of TU. I dropped some stickers off and gave the guys one of my Blackstrap Daily Tube’s for the assist on the map and the places to fish. They were pretty stoked on it and might be contacting them shortly to get some for the shop.
Again the H&H Outfitters logo’s and advertising on the Bus seemed to be paying dividends as well with Jake coming out to chat some more in the parking lot and grabbing a picture with the Bus. Apparently they are going to start working with the folks at H&H soon too! Well with a bunch of great info, contact information getting out to the local TU Chapter, flies in the box, and stoke in my heart. It was time for the next challenge.
Not to get into the history of why/when/where/how of the issue – suffice it to say that Sprint is pretty much non-existent in the entire State of Montana and roaming is the only way to get connected. Now I have unlimited data on the phone and also for roaming, but the signal is just shared way to hard and sluggish beyond belief.
So there I am sitting at the McDonalds parking lot trying to figure out the best next step. A friend from Bend suggested getting a MiFi from Verizon and so I shot over to the local store where I met up with Danielle who, after a couple hours and some serious top-secret stuff, got me wired in to my own little hotspot. Cost incurred and hopefully a write at the end of the year, and I am up and running on the Verizon system.
Turns out that Danielle came from back East and had a background in Farm Ecology and is now studying Environmental Science out here in Bozeman while working for Verizon. So you know the entire time we were hanging out we discussed some of the issues locally she observed. Also trends that seem to perpetuate in the themes of farming/water/environment issues not just here in Bozeman, but throughout the West.
After the couple hours it took to get the data all setup and prepped for this trip thanks to Danielle, I figured I deserved some time on the water. With info from the guys at the shop, and my box of goodies from Jeff at the Fly Fisher’s Place, I headed out to the Madison.
Now I am not sure how many of you out there have fished the Madison. But let me tell you what I think of it – SPECTACULAR. On the drive out I ended up destroying (not literally Mom) the front windshield with a hatch of Caddis that seemed to run the entire length of the river. When the bugs get that thick it’s hard not to get excited about the potential for angling.
Headed to Bear Trap and noticing a lot of people on the water, I thought my chances were pretty good to find a spot where I could explore a little bit of this river and get a line wet. Since it was later in the afternoon and I had an appointment with a friend later on that evening for dinner and drinks, I knew it needed to be a quick trip. Well as we all know – when the fishing’s good – time doesn’t matter. And the fishing was GOOOOOOOOD!!! I ended up running the 5wt with some 5x and a couple different Caddis patterns that Jeff had set me up with.
All in all I fished until about 7:30 and landed about a dozen fish. Nothing of super size – all of the Cutties and Rainbow were in the 12 inch range, but there were definitely some bigger fish out there slurping and smashing the water. It’s pretty cool that the depth of this river is pretty uniform and you can basically wade across it just about anywhere.
After packing up it was time to face the music with my friend Jesse Bussard who was waiting in town for me. I was supposed to be back at 5-6 and didn’t end up in town until about 8:30. OOOPS!! She was a little miffed from the text messages that started popping up on the phone as I was driving in, and I also got a ping from local TU representative Dave Kumlien. I made my way to 406 Brewing and met up with Jessee. Funny thing about the Brew Pubs in Montana is that they stop serving at 8:00pm.
Needing something in my belly, we drove over to Dave’s Sushi down toward Main Street and got a table. They have a great selection of beer’s and also a well rounded menu. I ended up Sashimi style with some Big Eye and another big roll.
The beers washing down the fresh fish after a long day of fishing and meeting people seemed to be doing the trick. I perked up a little bit and all of a sudden a full on dance party started in the restaurant with what seemed like a flash mob of locals who were dying for some sushi. It was pretty funny and a great way to see how the local’s love their fun.
Jesses and I discussed a lot of things this evening including the massive amount of businesses and organizations that are central to the Bozeman area when it comes to the fly fishing industry and support groups. She did express something that seems to be the biggest knot in the line I have heard over and over again. “I’m a member of TU, but their meetings are always at a time or place when I can’t make it.” Either due to work, or to family, or to other obligations, people in her age group seem to have the hardest time connecting to the organization on their time.
So what can we do about that? I think if we can get some of these younger TU members a means to create opportunity for themselves on their time, that may be the best way to create sustainability for the organization. Similar to what we did in Bend and the Deschutes Chapter of Trout Unlimited by forming the Bend Casting Club. There are other models for this out there as well like the Greenbacks in Colorado.
When they get to decide what/when/where to meet up – they will do it. They will also create opportunities that they have time for and can get organized with each other. Time and time again this gets proven when you take a look at either the Bend Casting Club or the Greenbacks websites and read about the programs they are constructing and have put together. While they might not be huge in conservation scope, they nonetheless generate support and foster the future for the organization.
Take the time to consider meeting up with you local Chapter of TU and offer to help create a younger group who can perform like they do. It creates connectivity within your community and benefits it immensely.