In 1940, Thomas Wolfe published his classic novel, You Can’t Go Home Again. That phrase rings in The Flyfish Journal contributor John Holt’s mind as he revisits the Montana waters of a misspent youth. In Montana ’72, Holt is ready to find degraded streams, smaller fish populations and wildlife much less wild than it was more than four decades ago. What he finds on those streams, besides cutthroat, browns and bull trout, is either a surprise or a hallucination.

“There are intervals of living which time passes so slowly the seconds seems not to move, the black hand of the eternal clock is frozen, but when examining scenes from a few years back, they feel like right now. Driving along a rough dirt road west of Missoula and a little south of Tarkio, the forested mountains, the pine scent and the stream itself trigger memories from more than 40 years ago—long hair, crazed behavior, the unsophisticated optimism of a youthful mind, the beauty of this country and this clear water. All of it comes back from the first time—then and now, now and then.”

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