For a long time I've wanted to see how much I could fish in a calander year. I never bothered doing this back during the years I was guiding. For one thing, it never crossed my mind. And usually the time I had off between summer and winter guiding was used for recooperating.
Last New Years' eve I decided that 2015 would be the year I kept track of every day I fished for one calander year. In January I wasn't thinking of it much with the area still receiving winter weather. February changed everything! Who at the time knew that the thaw that month would be the beginning of spring.
That was when the days started to string together. First two, then three, then by the end of the month I was out on the water four to five days a week. I still wasn't thinking ahead to what the final tally might be. It was early in the year and I felt fresh, we'll get back to how I felt later in the year.
When you fish a lot you start to notice patterns. Some things show themselves in a matter of days while others take years of observation. Over the years we have come to expect the Mothers Day Caddis hatch to appear a week, sometimes two, before the actual holiday. Last year the pattern wasn't normal. The caddis came off in full force an entire month ahead of schedule. From that hatch forward it became apparent that everything would be happening early in 2015.
Late spring and early summer I kicked things into overdrive. This was when I fished 7 days a week for a few months. I was like an addict craving his next hit. I couldn't get enough. I would set my alarm so I was on the river for at least an hour before work. I remember one summer night that I didn't even sleep. A co-worker and I did a two boat float on the Madison until 1 in the morning and since my shift at the fly shop the next day started at 11 o'clock, I was on the Gallatin the next morning at first light. Work that day was a blur.
By the end of summer I was starting to feel my body wanting to slow down. This was most likely due to a combination of things. The days were starting to add up and I saw my 40th birthday a few years ago so my body doesn't recover as fast anymore. 200 days was now within reach but I was going to have to ignore what my body was telling me. Justin got tired of seeing how crooked I was while at work so he got me a Teeter Hang-up. If it wasn't for hanging upside down every night before bed I wouldn't have come close to my final number.
The arrival of fall brought hunting season. This is a time of year that always becomes a balancing act. This year even more. I needed to fill the freezer for the coming year but I still wanted to go for the highest total I could. The days I hunted did give my body a chance to rest, at least the ones that I didn't climb a ridge line. In early October I broke the 200 mark but I wasn't done yet. 200 was an original target I had set for myself but now fishermans greed started to overcome me. \"One more cast\" had become \"One more day\", no matter what my tennis elbow was telling me.
With the arrival of December it had become crunch time. Now the weather was going to be my greatest obstacle. Unlike the previous winter that brought us a number of 40 degree days to comfortably fish, this December was seasonably cold. I wasn't going to let this stop me. I managed to get a weekend of camping in Craig over the frigid Christmas weekend. Thompson, my faithful fishing companion, didn't enjoying that fishing trip. At least he has his own zero degree bag so he won't try to get inside mine anymore. I think I fished in more 10 degree weather this past December than all of last winter.
At long last, It was finally January 1st. Time to rest and count up all my days. I sat down with my calander and a PBR. When I finished adding up all the check marks on the calander it finally made sense as to why I felt like lying down for a month. I knew the number was going to be high but when I counted the final check I was suprised that the number of days I fished was 226. The $26 I spent for a Montana fishing license meant that each day of fishing cost just over 11 cents per day, now that's a bargain. Some days outshined others but none were bad. Even the few times I was skunked. From now on, whenever I hear someone say \"just one more cast\" it will bring back a lot of fun memories from 2015. I'll probably never try this again, I don't think my joints would allow it, but never is a long time. On to 2016 and more great fishing.
Enter your number below to receive new, up-to-date river reports from Montana Troutfitters.