A friend is entertaining a job offer in Helena, Montana. I wrote this email to a mailing list he's on and another friend on the list suggested I put it in my blog. At first I figured "Who the hell is going to care?" On reflection, if nothing else it'll be a good place to archive an interesting bit of babble. :)
Now I'll tell you something about fishing. Montana has, bar none, the best fly fishing in America, IMO. Idaho is a close second and tied with Alaska. If you live near Helena, you'll be damn close to the Missouri River, one of the best rivers for browns and rainbows I've ever had the pleasure of fishing. While you can fish it from the banks, it's not nearly as productive as fishing it from a drift boat. So when you get all settled and have some extra money, you *want* to buy a good drift boat. Not a raft, not a pontoon boat, not a kayak, but a drift boat.
The pictures I've shown you of fish I took out of that water are typical. There's at least 3 or 4 good fly fishing shops in town, and a dozen others that "will do" in the general area. I also know of an excellent guide up that way who can help break you in to the scene on that river, at least.
You will fight big fish, and they will fight you. It will be epic and momentous and you will know no greater joy in life after the fact. Not even sex with a broad that knows what she's doing and how to do it and when to do it comes anywhere close to fighting big fish on big water with razor-thin leaders and nearly-microscopic flies. Afterwards, when you reflect on what you've just experienced, you'll realize the only thing that ranks up there is the birth of your children.
And then you, like me, will be a goddamn addict. You will focus any free time and money on chasing fish. You will stand in an early October snowstorm, cold as fuck, glad to be there, waiting for the take. You will "Chase the Rainbow" as I've taken to calling it to get your fix. You will be a cheap, broke junky with an expensive habit. You will forget birthdays and anniversaries and other so-called 'important' things. Cars will smell like fresh river water, you'll have a sunburned neck and you'll only know it's time to grudgingly go home because the sun has gone down and you can't see your line any more. On the drive home, you'll be thinking about the next trip down the river and which pattern to try. You will own 17 pairs of polarized sunglasses but never be able to find more than one pair at a given time. You will ignore trivial things like hunger and thirst and minor amputations. Odds are you'll have a good pair of pliers on you at all times to pulling hooks out of fish (and your hands). Fly boxes will seem to breed in your vest and "appropriate workplace attire" will mean "something comfortable for the river after I get off work."
Oh, my friend, when you make this move, you aren't just relocating your body and your family and your home. You are fucking relocating your brain to another state of goddamn being. You will start learning to pray (and pray well you must) for mornings without wind. In secret, you will beg like a dog for "one more cast" or "one last hookup". You will start to see non-fishing people as those who are "missing out" on one great secret of the Universe. You will scorn people with dry boots and office-soft skin. A new language, "reading rivers" will be yours. Baby steps at first, just getting the alphabet down is tough enough. The words will come to you when you open your eyes to them or the water decides to show you one of its secrets. The flowing water will taunt you. Some days the River will be a kind and loving mistress. Other days she will treat you like a cheap whore.
You, my friend, are in for a ride.