I take a specific route from my home to a friend’s cabin in Montana. Drive time is five hours, give or take, but when the mind is somewhere between a buzz and hangover, the return always feels longer. Fortunately, the path borders water nearly 90 percent of the time and when flows are low, window-shopping over the river’s deepest pools and exposed riffles helps pass the time.
Near the midway point, I set my sights on a particular spot. A section of pocket of water I’ve studied dozens of times from the comfort of the driver’s seat. I hug a little curve in the road and there it is, staring back at me like a half-buzzed hottie on the other side of the bar shooting flirtatious glances. I know everybody and their brother has had their way with her, but I can’t help staring back. It’s too good to be true, just close enough to a pull-off, but I’ve never seen anyone fish it.
On my last trek, I finally cracked. A man can only take so much, and I’m weaker than most. After several hypothetical promises, the wife granted me fifteen minutes. It didn’t matter if I was putting the last piece of the puzzle in place, when the buzzer sounded, I needed to shake the waders, jump back into the truck, and shift into D.
Fortunately, the code was easy to break. Ten trout came to my hand. That untouchable pocket of water I’ve driven by for all these years—the one I thought every tenderfoot on vacation dredged before me—gave it up in spades.
Sadly, I’m sure it will be the first and last dance. For fifteen minutes I was a roadside spectacle, like a Yellowstone Park elk outlanders line up to photograph with their point-and-shoot cameras. Above the sound of humming tires passing behind me, horns honked, and people yelled. One minivan copilot even wanted me to give a thumb up or down to rate the fishing. I gave him the finger. I was the equivalent of a jig-dancing pauper on a street corner with a large cardboard sign plugging wireless services, pizza specials, or inventory liquidation. No sir, I don’t think that pool will be lonely anymore.