Fall, Glorious Fall

We have had, presumably, a magnificent fall this year. The problem is that most of it was hidden by smoke from all the forest fires in the area that closed out the summer. It sucks to have it so warm, but with air that scorches the lungs and makes the eyes water. With the drop in temperature and some rain (after something like 50 straight days without it), however, it’s finally cleared up. This is what fall in Montana is supposed to look like; Julia and I headed south of here a few miles to get some angling in on the Bitterroot River in the midst of a gorgeous Thursday.

It’s been just a little over a year since we took up the sport with any kind of seriousness, and had a great time doing it whenever we could all summer. We didn’t catch many fish (oh, the thrill when it does happen!), but that doesn’t really matter. I love to get outside and hike, but fishing is something else. It’s a great way to get right down close to the world around you, and I can’t get enough of that.

That spec in the sky in the preceding image? That’s a LARGE bald eagle, catching the thermals and floating up and up into the sky. There was also a martin I watched running on the opposite bank of the river, where Julia was. I pointed it out to her. Shortly after, it literally ran right over the top of her feet and continued on its way. Just yesterday we also saw several ducks, some deer, and a big pheasant.

There is a beaver dam near another of our favorite spots, and we’ve seen the beaver several times. One night as darkness fell I could hear it upriver a short distance, its teeth gnawing at a fallen tree. Julia was nearby, wading in the water, casting and casting. Fish were rising, taking bugs off the surface of the river, sometimes with loud splashes. An osprey flew overhead with a piercing cry. I couldn’t have been more content.

Much as I like the cold, though, I realized that mid-October may be just a tinge late in the year to be chest deep in a Montana river wearing just shorts, a t-shirt, and sandals. I could only endure it for 10-15 minutes at a time, then I’d have to retreat to thigh depth. Time for some waders, I guess, because I’m damn sure not ready to call it a year yet.


Author: Chris

Chris La Tray is a writer, a walker, and a photographer. He is an enrolled member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians and lives in Missoula, MT.

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