By the time this posts I’ll be on the road again, off at the Hell or High Water Fly Fishing Festival on the West Branch of the Delaware River in New York. I even bought New York and Vermont fishing licenses. The world is coming to an end.
But never fear, that trip will be next week’s Vermont Chronicles post. This week, we’re focusing on Montana.
The 2014 Orvis Guide Rendezvous and Down the Hatch Fly Fishing Festival was a rousing success. The weather held out for us, a plethora of fly fishing guides and lodge owners showed up, and attendance at Saturday’s public event in Missoula’s Caras Park surpassed all previous years. I had an awesome time seeing old friends, meeting new ones and networking.
The highlights of the week:
- Tuesday hangin’ in Craig with the Headhunters and Chi Wulff crews.
- Dinner at Caffe Dolce in Missoula.
- Morning walk along the Clark Fork, strolling past my old haunts in downtown Missoula.
- Driving by my old apartment in Cascade and in Missoula. Damn, I’ve lived in some dives.
- Seeing a wolf chase a herd of elk at sunset. Always a thrill.
- Catching a small herd of Bighorn Sheep playing on the rocks along the Missouri.
- Late nights and early mornings.
- Bad hotel food.
- Lots of coffee.
- A new pair of Smith Shorewood sunglasses, right from the rep. Gotta gear up for the season.
- Listening to the Orvis clan read the speeches I’d written for the awards dinner, and making them sound far better than they did on paper. Thanks, guys.
- Simon Perkins introducing the Breaking Barriers Award at Friday night’s ceremony — something three of us have dreamed up at Orvis HQ. More on this to come soon.
- Seeing the Orvis fly fishing culture doc, which I’ve been working on since I started in January, introduced to the crowd of endorsed guides and lodges during the Guide Rendezvous.
- Judging the cook-off during the Guide Olympics with fellow fly fishing media folks Kirk Deeter and Tim Romano.
- Driving from Missoula to Craig — twice.
- Fishing the Missouri on Sunday, and bringing in a reasonable day’s worth of fish despite high winds. Missing way too many strikes due to an average of three to four hours sleep a night for the week (or, rather, choosing to blame it on the lack of sleep.)
I was heart happy and relaxed being back in Montana, despite the week being nothing short of a whirlwind. It was insightful to be at the event as part of the Orvis team, and I was able to do all sorts of networking for Orvis and even a bit for Fire Girl. It felt great to be out of my psuedo-dress clothes from the office (read: nicer jeans and fleece) and into my workin’ jeans and layers of fleece and driRelease and Buffs.
Working clothes make me happy. So does my camera.
Sunday in Craig was the down day. We left Missoula early-ish and convoyed up to Missouri River country. It was beyond fantastic to see the gang of Headhunters guides, old friends and shop rats, and spend some time on the water. Orvis treated us all to a guided day on the water, and it was my first-ever official guided trip. Chad Boedecker with PRO Outfitters treated myself and the Orvis Adventures Marketing Manager Andrew Pierce well, and we ended up with a day full of fat, healthy rainbows and browns, with a few whitefish as well for good measure. The Missouri River grand slam. I had one nice brown and two mid-sized ones… I’d almost rather see the little brownies than the big boys. They’ll grow up to be the monsters of tomorrow. For their part, the rainbows had classic ‘Mo color, little footballs of pink and silver glory.
I didn’t have quite the time I wanted to shoot images — I’m used to covering these events as a journalist, and trying to both work it and shoot images is a different matter entirely. It was an education, and I look forward to trying to find a balance between the two.
I flew home with three of the Orvis gang. It’s weird to travel with a crew… I’m very much used to working solo. It was fun to have folks to talk with and commiserate about airplane coffee and crazy passengers (I had an entire cup of Coke spilled on my leg on the last flight back to Albany. Luckily, a quick shuffle with my feet and the camera bag was spared. Not so my jeans.)
Landed back in Vermont to be greeted by grey, showery skies and temperatures above freezing. I was beginning to doubt the existence of such warm weather in this clime. My apartment was still in once piece, the Fire Girl Suby sported a large new crack in the windshield but still started and I was surprisingly okay coming back to the northeast. I’m a Western girl — this trip drove that home more than anything, and I’ll return to Montana someday. But in the meantime I have things to do, places to be, photographs to take and words to write.
And the season is just beginning.