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Looking for Mr. Johnson

Beer Boots in Big Sky Country

Hog Johnson is a shape shifter. When I first started fishing, he was a 14-inch cutthroat in the little creek by my house. As I grew older, he changed into a two-foot bull trout in the same stream. Put simply, he is the next big fish. I’m always looking for Mr. Johnson.

“Well, that was demoralizing,” I said as I collapsed next to photographer Jonathan Finch, already stretched out on the bank of the Blackfoot River. “Yup, over it,” he replied—he had traded reading the water for reading Harry Potter. As we sat in silent defeat, my eyes searched the dark water and I asked no one in particular, “Where is he?”

In 2015, I finished college. For the first time in my life I was left wondering, “What am I going to do with my life?” So, I decided to go fishing. I took my remaining $2,000 out of the bank and called Jonathan. We built a janky sleeping platform in the back of his truck and were off as trout bums with one goal: to find Hog Johnson…


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The Flyfish Journal Volume 8 Issue 4 Feature Looking for Mr. Johnson

above Paul Heffernan releases a cutty back into Montana’s Rock Creek. After spending nearly a week on the Blackfoot River with little to show for it, we decided to hit this gorgeous flow. We finally found some fish – and some morale – along this blue-ribbon trout stream. With our newfound confidence we decided to put one more day in on the Blackfoot, which was a mistake.

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