With a few days of August doldrums between booked trips, I ventured east to waters I first wrote about almost 20 years ago in Due North of Montana. Just me, the boat, the tent, the chance to play around with some new patterns and stare into popping campfires. Kicking back, fishing by my hours and whims, changing flies and techniques like a mad scientist in a riverine laboratory. To me fly-fishing has always been one big experiment – one that I know I’ll never solve but will die trying to.
Every now and then a breakthrough, a heart-pounding moment when it does come together, and a truly big trout severs the current and peels line off the reel in spinning coils.
Mid-August and the woods are already browning up. Reds and yellows to match the cheeks and bellies of big ole westslope cutties and foothills’ browns. Fall is just around the corner – my favorite time to guide and be afoot on my own. The hoppers are two inches by then; September brings the big Orange Caddis out of the conifers. The dry-fly fishing is ablaze as well on rivers like the Elk, St. Mary and Columbia.
One of the things I like best about guiding with Dave Brown Outfitters is the diversity and breadth of the rivers we fish. From the Bow in Calgary to the Slocan in the West Kootenay, D.B.O. has the guides and expertise to get the job done. We don’t affix ourselves to any particular watershed: ‘Buy Local’ works in the produce business, but we find that our clients prefer to fish where conditions are best at any given time. That message comes through again and again, as evidenced by the glowing reviews we’ve been getting this season on the Orvis site.
It’s always good for a chuckle to see the fervid Fernie outfitters in the rear-view mirror as we head to Alberta or the West Koots; they’re like fish out of water as they cover up their “local” decals and take paying clients to derelict put-ins. We welcome competition – its good for staying sharp and even better for the industry – but not when it jeopardizes the reputation of this world-class region.