Dave Micus, Plum Island Sound

October 29th, 2007

The Visit
By Dave Micus, Missoula MT

An advantage to living in a place like Montana is that you will never lack for company. It's a great place to vacation, and since I've been here I've had a number of visitors, fishing friends in particular who appreciate the opportunity to fish the pristine mountain streams. I appreciate their company.

I was especially pleased when I recently heard from my Dad's brother, Roger. Roger is retired, and he transverses the country in a motorhome, camping and fishing and living what many would consider, myself included, the dream life. He told me he'd be heading west this summer, and asked if he could visit me in my house in Missoula (which, by the way, is just a bit bigger, but not as well appointed, as his motorhome).

I've always had a warm spot in my heart for Roger. It was he, when I was a young boy, who introduced me to the delights of camping in the neighboring state of Wisconsin, a unique experience for a kid born and raised in inner-city Chicago. And though he didn't introduce me to the sport, he also has 50 years of fly fishing under his wading belt, and in his travels has probably fished every major trout river in North America. So I responded with enthusiasm to his request, and promised him a day or two on the river.

July isn't the best fishing in my area, and if you've seen the news you know that Montana is currently divided into two sections: smoking and non-smoking. Record high temperatures and no rainfall have combined to make this one of the worst fire seasons in recent history. Most days the smoke clouds the sun and, if you're not accustomed to it, you might think there has been some kind of major chemical spill or nuclear fallout. Add to that the river closures due to low flow and you can see the fishing forecast isn't very good. But this is Montana, after all, and poor fishing here equals very good fishing in most other states.

As we rigged up on the first morning of Roger's visit, he casually mentioned that his fly rod had been given to him by Ted Williams, which would be like casually mentioning that you own a Monet. For those of you who don't know, Ted Williams was a famous fly fisher in his day. He played some professional sport too—baseball, I think.

Roger had been a professional photographer. In 1962 one of his assignments was photographing Ted William's line of fishing gear for the Sears' catalog, and Ted insisted on supervising the shoot. Roger mentioned that he fly fished, and Ted showed him a matching fly rod and spinning rod given to him by a tackle manufacturer.

"hey're beautiful," Roger couldn't help but exclaim as he turned the finely made rods over in his hands.

"You can have them," said the magnanimous Ted Williams, and, though a collector's item, the fiberglass fly rod has been Roger's weapon of choice for the past 40 years.

I took Roger to an idyllic spot on the Blackfoot river. The day was blue-ribbon; cobalt cloudless skies, and sing-song runs of lucid cold water surrounded by a steep, sun-bleached terrain that, on one side, fell right to the river's edge. Deer wandered from the woods to drink at translucent pools, and swallows nested in the rockface like Anasazi cliff-dwellers. I fish hard and Roger kept up, and the day was all that an angler could hope for—good company, beautiful scenery, and striking wild trout whose colors covered the spectrum.

Now, I'm not one who likes the "Fishing with Dad's Ghost" genre of writing. I think it's a theme that's overused, and while these stories might have deep meaning to the writer, they don't mean much to the reader. In short, some stories might need to be written but they don't need to be read.

But I realized, watching my uncle a bit upstream casting the flyrod given to him by Ted Williams, that, unless the next life is as I hope it will be, this will be as close as I will ever get to fishing again with my father. So I was especially excited to see his fly rod bend and hear Roger let out a "whoop" when a large, wild rainbow took his nymph imitation in the deep slot of a sparkling pool on the Blackfoot River in the mountains of Montana. ~ 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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