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Brett James Smith's vibrant watercolor and oil paintings

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Books: Writing the West (Fly Fishing 2014)

Literary reviews of the Northern Rockies

Photo by Bryan Gregson

Back 40: First Sight

Fishing the Madison River

Written by H.G. Moser  
February 2014


After years of reading about the Madison River’s legendary trout fishing we crossed over Raynolds Pass onto Route 287 and followed the river northward toward Ennis. We had waited until our son was just out of diapers to make the pilgrimage to Montana. Three days of driving in our six-cylinder Plymouth station wagon had brought us to our destination. Looking at the river to our left in the late evening light, there appeared to be a veil of smoke several hundred feet high rising from it, along its entire length. Something from all the magazine articles clicked and I realized this was the evening hatch of caddis, mayflies, stoneflies and midges. A sight beyond imagination, my eyes welled up. After 44  years of countless days and nights spent on the great river, remembrance of that moment is as clear as the blue sky of a Montana morning.