Dave Micus, Plum Island Sound

March 26th, 2007

A Quaint Drinking Town
By Dave Micus, Missoula MT

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.

Land Fish

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.

Lawn Decor

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.

Great Paint Job

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 (danagallery@montana.com) for permitting use of his trout sculpture in this story. ~ Dave

About 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.

Previous Dave Micus Columns

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