There are some bass ponds, spring-fed items, that are located on the southern edge of the Bears Paw Mountains over Havre way in north central Montana. I’ve caught largemouth bass to six pounds in them with little effort. But that’s not much of the story. There was a time when I was casting to the fish and a trio of F-15s appeared out of nowhere with no sound by way of introduction – they were going too fast – then slammed by overhead less than 100 feet above the deck in a wall with sound so loud it didn’t roar it crackled and the surface of the ponds did a crazed vibration like their liquid nerves were way past buzzed and the bass leaped from the water with this military madness. I flipped the jets off. Why not. On the next pass the leader, now so low I could touch him, waggled his wings in recognition of my greeting. Pilots are fine-tuned.
Other days with never anyone around, as was the norm, and Ginny and I would burn beneath the sun out on the alkali flats with eroding sandstone formations in ochre, sand, dun, salmon, rust surrounding us. These monstrosities crept ever closer when we weren’t looking as our concentration was mainly on the bass. The ancient stone resembling (or maybe really was) lions paws, spectral battlements, and enormous humans that rarely spoke but kept us company. Still do. We love this kind of country that is really a slight variation on a Missouri Breaks riff wailing a few miles to the south.
We’d been absent from this place for six years. In this time the lakes filled in with soil that mostly clogged springs of artesian coolness. The little ponds are now filled with nutrients that produce the aquatic plant growth that killed off the fish. Doesn’t matter. These things naturally happen. Hard on the bass but that’s how it goes. Wild thunderstorms still wrestle with a setting sun turning the land nuclear blood orange. Deep purple clouds boil over the sage and native grass covered hills. Nighthawks swoop and drone as they feed on insects. Swallows, too. The birds say the hell with the heavy weather. The eating is too damn good right now. We say the hell with cities, MSNBC, BP, MLB and Livingston where we live but won’t forever. We love good country too much to rot in town when we can sizzle out in this stuff, bass or no bass.