Lighter Side

What is life if there is not laughter? Welcome to the lighter side of flyfishing! We welcome your stories here!
August 15th, 2005

Full Combat Shopping, Part 1
By Frank Reid

Okay, I'll admit it; I'm your basic male shopper. I need a pair of pants, I pull into the mall, go directly into the one store that I know sells the ones I like, grab a pair off the rack in my size, buy them and walk out. Done. That's the way it should be.

Sometimes, I'm unable to walk directly into the store that I want and I'm forced to "walk the mall." Okay, eyes forward, ignore the cell phone salesmen, no I don't want rain gutter covers, no, my non-existent jewelry is clean enough, thank you very much. Get to the store, purchase, leave.

Well, in all honesty, sometimes the window displays do pique my interest. "We have Tank Bras!" Hmmm, I guess it would be nice to keep the bugs off the front of your M1 Abrams. I hold firm and keep walking. But sometimes, once in a great while, I'll get hooked.

On my recent trip to Montana, I only spent more than 20 minutes of my time in three towns (hey, it's a FISHING trip), Bozeman, Ennis and West Yellowstone. Let's throw out Bozeman 'cause I only used it as my point of entry and exit.

Note to self: check on validity of the TSA (Trout Safety Administration). These guys stopped me in the parking lot at the airport in Bozeman and went through my fly boxes searching for and confiscating any flies on which I'd not yet crimped down the barbs. They also took away my extra set of waders because of possible zebra mussel infestation. They looked official, so I guess it's for my own good. I did happen to see "Senior Inspector Mike Smith, TSA" the next day enjoying himself in a drift boat.

Makes my heart glad to know that even government employees can get a free day off to go fish, though I don't know how they afford it on their salaries.

Okay, where were we? Oh, yeh, we've chucked out Bozeman from this oh so scientific survey and that leaves us Ennis and Yellowstone. According to the sign entering Ennis, the population is 660 folks and 1,100,000 trout. Ennis has two major fly shops. West Yellowstone, according to US census information, has 1,650 permanent residents. It also has five major fly shops (hmm, all centered on a microbrewery).

A quick bit of math leads us to the conclusion that the mandatory ratio of residents to fly shops in Montana is 330 to 1. This holds true for both Ennis and West Yellowstone, so probably works throughout the state. As a comparison, within the city limits of Baltimore, there is one, count 'em, one fly shop for a population of 651,154 deprived souls. It's just not fair! Time for a full Senate investigation.

There is even one fly shop half way between Ennis and Quake Lake, in the middle of nowhere, that has more flies in one place than any other store I've ever been to, bar none. Mmmm, flies... Oops, sorry, drifted off for a minute.

As a final note, there are also fly shops in most of your lodges along the Madison, some of which are very good. This is a good thing.

Lucky for me, at one of these lodges, I was even able to find some size 8 Kauffman's golden stone nymphs with Madam X-style rubber legs and custom angora/silk/Angelina fibre dubbed bodies that looked exactly like the ones that had been confiscated in Bozeman. Figure the odds (I knew they couldn't be mine as, on close inspection, I found that the tyer had crimped the barbs). They also sold used waders. Great shop. ~ Frank Reid

About Frank:

Born and raised in Southern California, my mother taught me to love fishing. I would fish from the piers around Los Angeles as all my friends hung out on the beach. At age 19, I joined the U.S. Air Force to see the world and liked what I saw, so stayed in for 23 years, finally retiring in 2000. I've lived and fished all over the US and the globe, from the deserts of California to the Philippines, Germany, South Korea, England, beautiful Omaha, Nebraska and about 1,000 other places in between. These travels taught me to fish for whatever happens to be in the local water. I now work in the Baltimore area as a computer consultant trying to earn enough to buy that next new rod or go on that next trip. My wife is Brenda (who's quilting addiction rivals my fly fishing/tying obsession) and we have two lovely daughters. ~ FR

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