Lake Fausse Point, Louisiana

July 18th, 2005

Oh! Montana!

It all started when I decided that I'd publish my first book, and Native Waters became available back in March.

I figured, oh, if I'm lucky, I'll sell a hundred or so copies to family, friends and unsuspecting foreign tourists and that would be the extent of my career as a published author. Never could I have guessed that my life as a reclusive hermit was ending quickly.

Now, I didn't want to make too much of this, because I am always of the opinion, "I'll believe it when I see it," a philosophy that comes quite easily to a person who has chased many a rainbow down more than one dead-end street. My first book signing was a grand success, though, thanks to you good folks. "That's it, nice ride, time to get back down to earth." That's what I thought.

In late March I was contacted by a gentleman from the television program Fly Fishing America, which runs on the Outdoor Life Network (OLN), who said they'd like to do an episode about me, my heritage, my fishing and my native waters.

"Moi?" I thought, astounded. "Lil' old me?"

Well, it's a good thing he contacted me by email, otherwise I would have accused him of being any one of several friends whom I thought were playing a practical joke on me. I admit I did go on the Internet to find out if there really were such a production company and a man by his name who worked for them, I agreed reluctantly.

Yes, I said reluctantly. Remember, I wanted to be a reclusive hermit author, shunning all fame and publicity, like Harper Lee. Now I got these folks wanting to come make film of me fishing, for Pete's sake.

But you know, it occurred to me that all my life I have been complaining that, "If I could only get a break," I'd make something of my writing. I mean, I tried publishing for years. I would send out manuscripts, wait eight months and get them back with rejection slips. I started taking a razor knife to cut a tiny sliver of clear tape that I put along the edge of the sheets of my manuscripts, mailed them, waited eight months, got it back with the usual rejection slip and, sure enough, there was my sliver of clear tape, undisturbed. They had not even looked at my work. That's when I realized it really didn't matter if I had any talent as a writer at all - getting published is all a crap shoot. A roll of the dice. So I bit the bullet, grumbled about vanity, and published Native Waters myself.

So here are these people offering me a chance to be on national television. Here's the "break" I've always whined for, staring me in the eye and challenging me to be man enough to take it. I took it. They'll be here in October for the shoot.

Fly Fishing America is not a "how-to" type of show so much as it is a "character-driven" show about people who fly fish.

I'm a "character" now. Jeesh.

What would my father say? I come from a long line of characters, you know. My grandfather was quite a character. My father was a rather famous character. Reporters, television documentarians, anthropologists and historians came from all over the nation and world to meet him, that's how much of a character my dad was. I guess I'm expected to be a character too. It's my torch to bear. I just haven't had a lot of practice at it.

Then a couple months later, the film company called back. I really expected him to say that they had discovered, despite my best efforts to conceal the truth, that I was in fact a catfishin', bait castin' Neanderthal and that the show would not happen, leaving me with no star at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood and more than a little egg on my face for having told my friends about my upcoming spotlight.

But it turns out they are doing a show on the Blackfeet reservation with an Indian there who's a professional trout fishing guide. I thought, "Well, that's it, they found some other Indian to do a show on!" But no. They decided it would be kinda cool if I fished with him, and he came down here and fished with me when it was my turn, and they'd do two shows on Indians fly fishing on their native waters.

I hate flying. Terrified of it, completely schizoid about it. I have flown six times in my life, therefore I am not imagining anything and my fears are not groundless (pardon the pun.) I know I am terrified of flying because I did it six times.

But I survived and I ended up in Montana! Montana is the Shangri-La of fly fishermen, you know. It's where A River Runs Through It was set and filmed. It's like, fly fishing nirvana. Fishing on the Blackfeet reservation for trout. Trout! Trout that are not speckled and do not live in salt water, thank you very much. We're talking real trout here, also something regarded as a fictional beast down here in the south. Dragons, unicorns, jackalopes and freshwater trout, all make believe animals.

I even wrote a little diddy about my adventure, to the tune of "Oh, Susanna!" and it goes like this:

I come from Looziana
With my fly rod on my knee;
I'm goin' to Montana
Where the trout-fish wait for me.
I cried all night the day I left,
the airplane went so high;
I'm scared I'll fall right to my death,
Montana don't you cry.
Oh! Montana, don't you cry for me;
Cuz' I come from Looziana,
with my fly rod on my knee.
I had a dream the other night,
When everything was still;
I thought I was in Montana, dear,
I was fishing just o'er that hill.
The little fly was in his mouth,
That trout-fish caught my eye,
Said I, I'm coming from deep down south,
Where the cat-fish we do fry.
Oh! Montana, don't you cry for me;
I come from Looziana,
with my fly rod on my knee.
I'll then touch down in Lah-fah-yette,
And then I'll look all 'round,
And when I find my Chevy truck,
I'll drop and kiss the ground.
But if I do not find it,
This Injun'll surely die,
And on Surrey Street I'll be buried,
Montana don't you cry.
Oh! Montana, don't you cry for me;
I come from Looziana,
with my fly rod on my knee.

Okay, so it needs a little work. Gimme a break, I'm a columnist, not Rodgers and Hammerstein.

So stick with me over the next few weeks and I'll tell you about trout fishing in Montana, grizzly bears, Blackfeet cousins and air travel misery.

I still think Harper Lee had the right idea. ~ Roger

It's out! And available now! You can be one of the first to own a copy of Roger's book. Native Waters: A Few Moments in a Small Wooden Boat

Order it now from,, or Barnes & Roger will also be giving away three autographed copies to readers. Stay tuned, for an announcement on the Bulletin Board on that soon.

Previous Native Waters Columns

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