Thunder, Lightening and Solitude by Jake Walbridge

June 2, 2017

Thunder, Lightening and Solitude by Jake Walbridge

 Spring in Montana roles through bringing high dirty water, solid fishing, and the seemingly daily thunderstorms that sweep through the river valleys.  As fishermen, we realize it is not wise to be waist deep in water waving around a graphite lightening rod during these storms. These storms do present a perfect opprotunity to sit back, allow the river to clear, and capitalize on some fishing solitude.

  Recently, while fishing the Madison River, one such storm seized the river and illuminated the sky with brilliant flashes of lightening and blasts of booming thunder. In this situation it is best to take to the banks of the stream away from the water. If available find a grove of small trees with larger trees around or find low ground like a depression or a ravine. Minimize contact with the ground and try to stand on the balls of your feet in a tucked and crouched position, do not lay flat. Avoid lone trees and rocks as these are lightening targets and if struck, lightening can travel through them and into you.

  As the storm nudged closer to striking distance I crouched in a small ravine watching the hoards of drift boats, rafts, and tubers headed ass backwords to the take outs in harmonized fashion. When the storm hit it seemed everyone was safe and sound in their cars preparing to go home. As so often happens in Montana, the storm hurried along and the brief 15 minutes of danger passed. As the threatening skies cleared an even more infrequent situation unfolded, peace and quiet on the Madison.

  As I returned to the river, the bugs danced along the surface, wings wet from the rain, the fish were rising, and I was all alone. As I fished to the willing trout, I reminisced on the days that made me fall in love with the sport of fly fishing. One quick storm brought me back to tight lines, dry flies, and solitude.



Jake Walbridge

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