Monday, September 19, 2016

A Brief Respite in the Summer Heat

I know, I know.  This blog is about bird dogs and bird hunting!  I have so many friends who are accomplished fly fishers, when not pursuing their bird dogs, and they convinced me to give the genteel sport of fly fishing a try.  My (long-suffering) wife wanted to give it a try, as well, so off we went, inviting ourselves in to people's lives, favorite fishing holes, and, sometimes, homes.   

Bird dogs and bird hunting
BJ, Gary Bauer, Randy on the Madison

Our first stop was to see Gary and Martha Bauer, in western Montana.  Both are accomplished fly fishers and Gary is a bird hunter with excellent Gordon Setters.   Martha opened her home to us and Gary took us to the Madison River, near Yellowstone.  We floated the River in his drift boat two separate days, with Gary gently helping us with casting, teaching us fish biology, river lore, entymology (bug stuff), equipment history, river reading and fishing courtesy and protocol.  Back at the ranch, after she came in from a different river, Martha, who's pretty well known on the river for some big fish, slapped together a gourmet meal!  At first we were somewhat overwhelmed, but slowly it started to make sense.  After all, Gary and Martha had been fly fishing for many years.  We began to see that every little nuance had a reason behind it. Far from being a stuffy sport, this was a great way to spend a day (or lifetime) outside on a river.   A friend mentioned to me a tidbit which rings true every day, "Trout don't live in ugly places."  

bird dogs and bird hunting
BJ and Gary T.

We, regretfully, said our goodbyes to Gary and Martha and crossed through Yellowstone Park to Wyoming. We met up with another bird-hunting friend, also a fly fishing expert.  Gary Thompson, from Sheridan, WY.  We encamped in the Big Horn mountains (well, glamping, really, in our 27' camper) and Gary met us each morning to take us to a different stream or river in the area. Once again, we learned so much about the fish, bugs, flies, history, courtesy and protocol while fishing in an exceptionally beautiful setting! Gary and Leslie came up one afternoon and cooked dinner for us over the coals using cast iron pots!  My mouth still waters thinking about the roast pork, vegetables and trimmings. 

bird dogs and bird hunting
Snake River Cutthroat

Being a redneck from Georgia, it took a me a while to embrace the idea that people would spend a significant amount of money to catch a huge fish, take a picture of it and gently put it back!  How weird is that?  But, once Gary B. and Gary T. explained the reasoning, it made perfect sense and we both accepted and endorsed the idea.  In West Yellowstone, a park entrance town, we met with Dick Greene, owner of Bud Lilliy's Fly Shop, another bird dog man when he's not on the river or in his world-famous store. I could spend hours in there, looking and coveting. I gaze at fly rods (don't call them "poles", apparently) with the same affection as fine shotgun!

bird dogs and bird hunting
The one that got away!

When, finally, we turned East and South and headed back to Georgia, we felt a lot better about the mystical art of fly fishing for big (and small) fish using dry flies, nymphs, streamers, etc. We gained friends and cemented friendships and counted ourselves lucky to know such good people!  We saw moose, bison, Grizzlies, elk, deer, Eagles, and the all-important Caddis and Salmon Flies. We bought and carried bear spray- and it was no joke. BJ and I had some true experts take us down some "bucket list" rivers.  We will be forever thankful to all of them. 

bird dogs and bird hunting
Dutch Oven cooking!

(I discovered, after spending two days fishing with him, that Gary Thompson is a registered Montana Fly Fishing Guide and also a Wyoming fly fishing guide. I may have the terms mixed up and I had to pull it out of him, but he's an amazing resource for Wyoming fly fishing as well as fishing the Big Horn River. ( (303) 324-5767 or  

bird dogs and bird hunting
Madison River Drift Boat