We were teenagers when we found the fly rods in the lodge at the bottom of the hill next to the Stillwater River. The lodge sat across from the small trapper’s cabin. Both remnants of generations gone, when the ranch we worked as children, brought men on horseback, hunting elk into the Beartooth Mountains. The lodge held the treasures of that time. Looking through the drab green packs and canvas tents and dusty boxes we found a tin fly box that brought life to the rods. In it were the large, fluffy, feathered flies that became all we had, so they were all we fished.
It was not the first time I had found myself in this situation on the river, and it would not be the last.
It is hard to mess up a day of fly fishing on the Bighole River in Montana, but in the middle of a PMD hatch and rising trout all around me, I was trying my hardest.