Spring Flyfishing Highlights and the Pursuit of a Dream

By BRYCE MCLEAN

I started fishing when I was around five years old.

Like most people, I would fly fish for an hour until I got frustrated, and then I would throw spinners up against the banks. Every weekend we would pack the entire family into an old bathtub style raft (non-self bailing, which can really suck), and cruise down the Missouri between the dam and Craig.

I remember fighting with my brothers, hooking each other, and crying when my older brother caught more fish than me. A whole lot has changed since then, but there is one thing that never has.

Before every one of these family outings I remember my dad watching bonefishing shows on tv, and wishing as hard as he possibly could that one day, that would be him out there on the flats. Naturally, this wishful thinking was passed down to me. For the last 20 years or so we have all been talking about going salt water fishing, and actually catching something. For reasons I can not explain, this dream has still not become a reality.

I’m proud to say, that is finally about to change.

We have fished Hawaii for massive bonefish and the flats in Florida for tarpon, but nothing has ever really seemed to work out. Last week, our luck began to change.

 

Fish It Blog.  Pursuit of a Dream.It came in the form of a five foot long tarpon inhaling my Dad’s fly about 20 feet off the front of the boat, jumping three times, and making a few hard runs before spitting the fly with ease. He might not have landed the fish, but it was a whole lot better than his last trip, which ended with his guide puking off the side of the boat and calling it a day. We call thatprogress.

Next week, we have the distinct pleasure of watching my older brother get married, and we get to go to Belize to do it. It seems like every choice my family makes revolves around fly fishing in some way, so why would this be any different?

You can imagine the big shit-eating grins on our faces when my brother told us he had convinced his fiancé to go to one of the best bonefishing destinations on earth to tie the knot. It’s most certainly not a coincidence that the dates were picked during a time when all of our rivers are blown out and un-fishable.

We know that nothing is for sure, and no fishing destination guarantees success, but I have a very good feeling that the quest to land a fish on the flats is about to come to an end.

So, here’s to all of you other crazy anglers who are willing to spend a bunch of money that you don’t have just to catch one fish in a tropical setting. Good luck to everybody rolling out across the world in search of permit, tarpon, or bonefish this month. May your luck be good and your beers cold as you cast endlessly over and over again while awaiting that life-altering moment when your line actually goes tight.

We plan to film the entire thing and edit a video together as soon as we get back so hopefully we will have plenty of GoPro shots, and plenty of bro-downs. Good luck to everybody fishing the Mo’ over the next couple of weeks as well, it should be damn good up there.

 

 

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Fishing for more tales from the river? Check out Matt and Bryce’s other posts: Skwalla Season on the Bitterroot RiverZen and the Art of Not Fishing At All, and How to Escape the Boat Hatch, or visit the Fish It archive.

Be sure to visit the Make it Missoula fishing page.

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Missoula Fly Fishing Experts Matt Devlin and Bryce McLean

Matt Devlin (left) is originally from Annapolis, Maryland and learned to fool trout on the technical waters of the Gunpowder River. He has fished in Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Maine, Michigan, Indiana, North and South Carolina, Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. He thinks about flies and fishing a whole lot.

Bryce McLean (right) was born and raised in Montana, and has been fly fishing here for almost 20 years. He first learned to fish on the Missouri River, but when he was ten, his family moved to the Bitterroot Valley. He’s been fishing the Bitterroot River ever since. This has been his second season guiding the Missoula area rivers, which he consider to be some of the best trout fisheries on planet Earth.

Their most recent fish-related project is BigSkyTrouting.com.