The lake was shrouded with a thick blanket of fog, its
surface a flat mirror, reflecting back upon itself. The
sun was well up, but there was a significant chill in
the air, despite the fact that it was mid-summer. I had
left home in the dark, and in early August in Montana that
is quite early indeed and had driven over 100 plus miles
to be here, in this place, at this time. No breeze stirred
the cool mountain air, no sound except the sound of my own
breathing and the distant croak of a raven broke the
By Neil M. Travis, Montana
I had come there, not for solitude but for fishing, and
I had not come to experience it alone. Within moments my
fishing companions would be arriving for a morning of what
promised to be exciting fishing. As the sun began to melt
back the engulfing fog, I could detect shimmering clouds
of insects performing their ethereal dance above the water.
Their numbers were so great that in the silence you could
hear the hum of their wings as they rose and fell in their
ghostly dance. This vast swarm of tiny insects would soon
fall on the water and make their final contribution to the
ecosystem of this lake by becoming food for the hungry trout
I had come to catch.
My friends arrived, Wally and Kim Eagle, a father and son
team who, for several years, had graciously included me in
their fishing expeditions. Quickly, without need for words,
we assembled our gear, squeezed into our float tubes and
launched ourselves upon the mirrored surface of the lake.
The fishing was all I could have hoped it would be and more,
as the trout rose with abandon to the tiny spent, insects
that carpeted the surface.
What strikes me most about that day, from the perspective
of several intervening years, is not the number of fish
that we caught. Quite frankly, I have not the slightest
idea of the numbers. That day was not special because of
the size of any particular fish, although I suspect that
several may have been admirable. What made it special
were my friends, Wally and Kim.
Ours is a friendship initially fashioned by a shared love
of rising trout and sustained by a mutual admiration of
each for the other, forged through years of sharing all
that life has to offer.
Friendships, such as these, are like fine wines, carefully
aged and consumed, not with haste but with deliberation,
each sip awakening a new sensory experience. Among us
three there is no sense of competition, just a shared
joy in the accomplishments of life.
While this event seems like only yesterday, it has, in fact,
been nearly 15 years ago. Kim has gone on to become a
Cardiologist and holds down a prestigious position at a
midwestern university. Wally has retired and resides
within minutes of the lake we fished so many years ago,
yet I suspect he seldom fishes there anymore. I have
other duties that consume my time, providing me with
too few opportunities to wile away a midsummer day
watching the ethereal dance of ghostly mayflies over
a fog shrouded lake.
Yet the bonds that bound us then are still strong,
invoking emotions that supersede words, taking the
chill from a cold Montana morning as surely as it
did years ago. ~ Neil M. Travis, Montana
From A Journal Archives