Missoula, Montana has been described as a "quaint drinking
town with a serious fishing problem," and one needn't look
far to see it is a fitting description. It is perfectly
understandable, as the city is located "at the junction of
great trout rivers in western Montana" as St. Norman so
accurately described Missoula. Living in Missoula and
not fishing would be akin to...well, there is no apt analogy.
Don't misunderstand. Missoula is not like Paulaski, New York,
the Dollyworld of fishing, whose very survival depends on the
salmon and steelhead fishery and where every thing is named
Salmon this and Steelhead that and where there are actually
soft-drink-like machines on the street that, for a fee,
dispense not canned pop but live bait in a Styrofoam cup.
No, Missoula is a good bit more dignified than that.
But it is hard to drive more than a block or two without
seeing a driftboat in a driveway or on the street, and
even the parking lot for student housing at the University
of Montana sports a number of these fishing craft. The
University also reflects this influence, with semester
long fly fishing classes and English seminars devoted
solely to the literature of fly fishing.
Nor is business immune from the lure, and I don't just mean
fly shops, though there are plenty of those. Art galleries
sport trout paintings and sculptures, hardware stores sell
accessories like trout cabinet handles and door knobs, and
the local rental car agency sports a huge blue marlin painted
like a rainbow trout. There are fly fishing film festivals,
and it's common to see wader-clad-korker-wearing shoppers
perusing the aisles in the supermarkets.
But the best thing about Missoula is that, in spite of this
fishing fanaticism, you need only drive a short distance
from town to have a pristine stream filled with wild trout
all to yourself.
The same, however, can't be said for the bars.
Note: I want to thank artist Jonathan Qualben
(jonathanqualben.com) and the Dana Gallery (firstname.lastname@example.org)
for permitting use of his trout sculpture in this story. ~ Dave
Until recently Dave Micus lived in Ipswich, Massachusetts.
He just moved to Missoula, Montana. He is an
avid striped bass fly fisherman, writer and instructor.
He wrote a fly fishing column for the Port City Planet
newspaper of Newburyport, MA (home of Plum Island and Joppa Flats)
and taught a fly fishing course at Boston University.