That Time I Fell in Love with Fly Fishing. Shhhh Don't Tell.

Growing up near a river in Montana, it's just part of the patchwork that was my childhood.  Hiking down to swimming holes, catching frogs and water snakes, lazy summer afternoons picnicking on the sandbar, and rafting adventures - I'm so grateful to have had these experiences.

For sure my husband loved me long before he knew I had a tiny bit of river in my blood but this fact definitely sweetened the deal.  You see one of his love languages is fly fishing.

So on our trip last summer to Montana, I scored major wife points surprising him with a morning on the Middle Fork of the Flathead river with my favorite fishing guide.  Oh my it was a highlight of our summer.  Hilary has grown up fishing and guiding on the Flathead River and has taken on the mission of educating people on the importance of protecting public lands, especially rivers.

The thought that my boys might not get to have these same experiences is very sad to me.  It's concerning that these public lands could be up for grabs.  It's not a given that this majesty will remain untouched by development and industry.  I want my boys to have these experiences too.  They speak of their fishing and swimming hole experiences as if they were legendary.  I suppose they were.  Right up there with sleeping out under the stars (they made it 'till 11pm when I brought them inside.)

Disclaimer:  The photos below were from different fishing trips.  I confess, we did not take the boys with us this time and they were not happy about it when they found out.

In 1968 Congress passed the Wild and Scenic River Act to preserve certain rivers and keep them free-flowing for the recreational enjoyment of present and future generations.  Today only 1/4 of 1% of U.S. rivers have this designation.  In Montana 2/10ths of 1% are protected.  A new river hasn't been given this designation in 40 years.

Besides recreational use, there are a number of other factors to think about, including...
  • Freshwater animals are becoming extinct 5 times faster than land animals.
  • One mature tree in a riparian area (habitat along the river edge) can filter as much as 200 pounds of nitrate runoff per year.
  • In the PNW over 100 stock and subspecies of Salmon and Trout have gone extinct and another 200 are at risk, a prime factor being loss of habitat and damns.
  • Of the 1200 species on the threatened or endangered list, 50% depend on rivers and streams.

Every Bend, a film by Noble Lab and Trout TV gives you a glimpse into two Montana Rivers, one is protected, one is not.  You can also find out more on the American River website.

Thank you to Hilary for an incredible morning.  I caught my first fish fly-fishing.  (Notice at the beginning of this post I didn't mention any memories about growing up fishing.)  I was shocked how much I enjoyed it.  Don't tell my husband.  But honestly how could you not?

If you are Montana in the Flathead area, you can find Hilary, guided tours, and all the fly-fishing gear you need at Larys Fly Shop.  

"There's a river somewhere that flows through the lives of everyone." -Roberta Flack