Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to be on this journey. Then I meet people and talk to them about what they are doing in their day to day lives and realize how fortunate I am to be on this trek across the West and the people who are making it possible.
Just for a moment I want to remind everyone that this blog and trip is just the first of what I hope is many, and serves not just to show you amazing places but also helps to inspire you to get involved however you can to keep these places sacred for generations to come. I say sacred because that is what they are. The only way they can be saved for future generations is by taking active steps (however small or large) to ensure their survival.
To H&H Outfitters, Blackstrap Inc., and The Fly Fisher’s Place – I cannot thank you enough for your support on this journey. For those of you reading this, lease take the time to thank them as well by emailing them, visiting them online or in person, and supporting them with your dollars. This would not be possible for me to do without their contributions to the effort and yours as well.
So the past couple days hanging around Bozeman were really interesting and I had the chance to catch up with Will who used to work down at Confluence Fly Shop in the Old Mill District of Bend. He’s out here now going to school, working, from shiny and still putting stuff together for his project called The Drift. You might think that traveling and moving may have changed him somehow, but the smile he greeted me with and his obvious continued stoke on life was apparent from the moment he reached out to shake my hand and greet me on the Upper Madison.
As I arrived Will was temping though the Maddy with his rod folded up on what seemed to be a pretty big fish and he moved down the riffle carefully to get to a soft spot where he could land and release the fish. My eyes didn’t deceive as I saw quite a brute come to hand and a quick pic he took of it before releasing back into the water. As I stood there I creeped closer to the water and saw his buddy (sorry, totally spacing your name right now but will edit and put it in later) cruising the bank beat me and fish NF a hole under a cut bank. Before I knew it, I was too close to the edge and saw that I HF spooked a huge fish.
Bad etiquette on my part. Never get that close to someone from someone actively fishing a run. I apologized and fished the rest of the day with some success and explored the river above Ennis until dark. Me shooting some video and they mostly fishing.
The next morning I awoke in a campground on the Madison and felt more alive than I have in a long time. Or maybe it was because I hadn’t seen the inside of a shower for about 6 days. Luckily for me, Jessee Bussard offered to alleviate my noxious odor by offering me a cup of coffee and her shower. I drove the half hour back into town and got myself cleaned up.
After a meeting down at Simms with Rich Hohne, I grabbed a bite in town and set up a meeting with Kris Kumiien who is a board member of the Madison/Gallatin Chapter of Triut Unlimited. I had learned the previous day’s that his father Dave is a staffer for TU National and covers the Invasive Species issues. As well, both have served this area on behalf of TU by previously owning and operating Montana Troutfitters before selling it. A multi-generational commitment to the resource – that’s an amazing thing to witness and something I had to learn more about.
Kris and I met up near his office at a local coffee spot where he suggested I “look for the only guy in Bozeman wearing a tie” and i said, “Look for a long hair scraggly guy that sticks out like a sore thumb.” A few minutes into discussing the fishing locally and more about each of our backgrounds, and I knew this was not just an intelligent, well spoken, and informed man – his passion and caring about the future of this area was without doubt and its future is in strong and extremely capable hands. We spoke for about an hour or more about the rich history of the fishing In the area and how amazing it is to live somewhere wild fish thrive. That is not to say there are not issues for fish here, it’s just that there is really no hatchery program to speak about that adversely effects the region.
We continued on and the issues I pointed to in my previous post about engaging a younger demographic kept coming up. I offers up some examples of the different ways we constructed the Bend Casting Ckub back home and the time it took to reach some critical mass. Kris being in the business he is and of the target age demographic we were discussing, I started to hear his time change from slight frustration to a bit more inspired as we spoke.
I hope I helped give some good examples of low hanging fruit ideas that he can use like our Bend Fly Fishing Festival and casual meet ups at local breweries to get more people of his age inspired and connected to TU. The vast majority of the people I saw on the river the past could days were young families with children and young guys with their buddies and dogs out for a coupe hours enjoying themselves. If Kris can get some of them engaged, this place will remain wild and free with amazing fishing for future generations.