Saturday, March 5, 2011

Montana Fly Fishing

So I just bought a new camera.  Now the trick is figuring out how not to look like a total douche while using it.

I have a real love/hate relationship with this blog.  Blogging seems to be turning into an increasingly feminine pursuit and that concerns me.  Not to mention that about half of the posts that I start turn into gibberish and never get finished.  But the fact is that I love writing and have since I was a small child.  And while my normal topics involve things that I think are funny or interesting, sometimes I just feel like writing about something that is truly important to me.  So in a break from the normal format of MOBIYM, I want to write a bit about possibly the only thing I am truly passionate about.  If you are looking for laughs, it may be time to stop reading.

Those that know me well have likely grown tired of my constant expressions of love for my home state of Montana.  I talk about it way too much, so much so that I probably come off pretentious.  Is Montana the best place in the country?  In the world?  Well to me it is.  That's not to say that everyone should feel the same way, because they shouldn't.  For many people, most people, Montana is not an ideal place, and that is a big part of what makes it so great.  I do not think Montana is better than other places (except Colorado) but I do think that it is better for me, and regardless of where I live, it always will be.



Now, it is difficult to really determine why I have fallen so deeply in love with a place that can at times be very hostile and unlovable.   Montana is a very beautiful state, but so are many others.  The answer is very subtle and is something that I discovered while fly fishing.  Fly fishing has taught me that Montana is a place where wilderness can still be found, and a place where that wilderness is still appreciated and valued.  For me, wild forests and water have a way of masking your worries, and they can bring a clarity that I have a hard time finding anywhere else.  Some of the biggest rewards I have ever gotten have been through a relationship with nature that I strengthened while fishing a wild Montana.

Fishing is not just a hobby for me, it is a release and often even a spiritual pursuit; it is a gentle reminder that there are still primitive things in the world and those things are not to be ignored, but benefited from.  And I'm not just speaking about trout and animals, but also the water, the insects, the trees and the intoxicatingly fresh Montana forest air.  At times fishing or even just exploring Montana is a way to relax and enjoy time with people that I care about.  However, when I take the trip alone or with someone that has a similar passion for wild things, it becomes a much more therapeutic experience.

I don't wear waders or bulky gear when I fish, and aside from the fact that they look a bit goofy, I never really understood why I didn't like them, until recently when my younger brother brought it up and made me think about it.  The waders keep you from really being in the water and they keep you from feeling the touch and push of the river.  I know that sounds cheesy, but it is completely true, and it illustrates why fishing has become so important to me, and to my brothers for that matter.  Because it is constant, unflinching and unpredictable all at the same time.



I love catching trout, it is exciting, and I also happen to think that next to women,  trout are just about the most beautiful things ever created.  But catching fish is not always my main reason for fishing, my reason is generally to leave something in the river and forests, and to come away better.  In a way, fishing is sometimes like a type of personal sacrament for me, and that is what makes it very sacred and sustaining.  It is a way to stay connected to the natural part of my life, a part of my 27 year existence that has become increasingly important to me in recent years.

For a few years I dated and fell in love with a girl that added a lot of complication to my relatively peaceful life.  In fact, for a while, our relationship completely ruined it.  But I loved her in spite of our problems for a few reasons, some of them more noble than others.  Unfortunately, a main reason for loving this girl was because she practically completely understood my passion for Montana, the river and fishing.  Almost more so than anyone I have met to this day.  I recognized this understanding when she wrote me a note, a note that out of dozens was the only one I kept.  I kept it not as a token of my old feelings, but because she effectively said what I had always struggled to make sense of.  She perfectly analyzed my relationship with my favorite creek when she said:  You can so easily bring your stress and the confusion of the world to the woods and wash it away in the river.  During those times you are so distant from everything.  

 Now that may sound like an incredibly selfish reason for me to care about a person and it probably was, but it was strangely comforting that she understood my reasons for fishing, and in some ways it allowed me a way to express my passion for my water and my forest even when I was hundreds of miles away.  Needless to say, this was a relationship that was built on a pretty poor foundation, and a "marriage" relationship is obviously made of something much more substantial than one shared understanding, regardless of how important it is.  When you feel the same way about a river as you do a woman, things are not going to end well.  But at the same time, that may be one of the highest compliments that I could ever give this particular girl.

I bring all of this up because it correctly demonstrates the most important and sometimes dangerous reason for my love of Montana and fly fishing.  Because when I am driving through Rock Creek canyon, or when I am walking through the waist high grass to the Bitterroot, when I am lost in the comfortable rhythm of my cast, or when I am bringing a trout to briefly have a pretty horrible experience, I am also bringing something very wild to the surface,  I am forgetting the complications and the things that do not matter and remembering the things that do.  It is important for me because it has helped me cope with just about any problem I have ever faced in my "adult" life.  It  is dangerous because it has become something that I rely on.  Fly fishing for me is a way to learn from the wilderness rather than conquer it.  It is a personal way to know God through some of his most impressive creations.