July 23, 24, 25, 2001
My next stop was Ennis, Montana on the Madison River and a RV campgrounds. I got a campsite that was a treeless patch of gravel with a picnic table. I tried to put up my “cabana” ( an open tent top to cover the picnic table) but it was too windy. I did get an invitation to go to a party in one of the large RVs but I was more interested in going fishing. I had seen a beautiful blue fishing shirt in one of the fly shops and sternly told myself I couldn’t buy it unless I actually caught a fish in the Madison River. Anything less just wouldn’t be right.
After I ate some dinner, I headed out on the river. I caught a fish right away but the hook was deep down in his throat. I tried and tried to get it out and soon the poor fish was bleeding in my hand. When I put him in the water he just floated away on top. I love nature and my destructive act made me feel bad. If a person takes the time to really analyze the sport of catch and release fly fishing it can broken down into three steps. (1) Catch the fish. (2) Scare the bajeesoms out of it. (3) Put it back in the water so it can be caught and scared again. Struggling with my conscience, I vowed to be more careful in the future and never kill a trout again.
Fishing is a lot like gambling in a casino, you don’t want to stop until you get a hit. The sun was going down and I knew the diminishing light was in my favor. As it got darker and darker, I became obsessed with the periwinkle fishing shirt.. Finally something took the fly and I reeled it in. It had to be the smallest trout in the world, two inches long. But it was a trout and it counted. I could get my shirt!
I was told the next morning I had missed the RV party. Will people in expensive RVs with large cars in tow ever understand the heart of a fly fishing woman? I apologized and found another campsite with trees. I met some cross country bicyclers there. They were amazing. They traveled thousands of miles and then flew themselves and their bikes back to where they started. It made me realize that if I told people I was traveling cross country I needed to clearly explain that I was doing it by minivan. Big difference!