Dining Out: The Taste of Whitefish

Local food lovers reap the benefits of friendly competition among local chefs at this annual Montana event


Outside: Steelhead in the Magic Forestgreen on the Sol Duc

The Northwest's Queen Charlotte Islands are as wild as it gets

Photo by Tom Murphy

Letter from the Editor: I Know Where the Fish Are

We took the plunge

Written by Seabring Davis  

Seabring Davis

Other Contributions

Timeless Fusion Mountain Tradition A Modern Vision Summer Camp Perfect Harmony Winter Getaway: Red Lodge, Montana Beyond the Cabin A Fine Balance Good Country Authentically Western A Home for the Ages Where the Living is Easy Music in the Mountains The Flight of the Hummingbird Living the Dream Integrating Nature Mountain Exposure Eclectic Parkitecture Uniting Color Historic Symmetry The Year Of The Horse A Yellowstone Club Retreat Hearth and Soul Building a Timeless Legacy An Uncommon Cabin in the Woods Letter from the Editor: I Know Where the Fish Are Letter from the Editor: Big Sky Country Letter from the Editor: Forging Ahead Dining Out: Barn Dance Letter from the Editor: Like an Open Road Letter from the Editor: The Language of Fishing Letter from the Editor: Cast Again Editor’s Letter: The Passing Season Dining Out: Saffron Table Dining Out: Lone Mountain Ranch Serves Up a Sense of Place Western Design: Uniquely Rustic Western Design: JLF & Associates Letter from the Editor: Season of Possibility Dining Out: A Montana Tradition, Chico Hot Springs Letter from the Editor: Design Trends Dining Out: The Ranch at Rock Creek Redefines Montana Cuisine Dining Out: Seasonal Bliss Western Design: Refined Rustic Letter from the Editor: Winter Wave Letter from the Editor: Blending Seasons Western Design: A New Mountain Lodge Western Design: Historic Haven Western Design: In the Studio with the Viers Western Focus: Classic Connection: Miller Architects Western Design: Reviving the Barn From the Editor: Seasons of Simplicity Dining Out: Innovation Meets Tradition at Bisl Letter from the Editor: What is art? Dining Out: Holland Lake Lodge, Rustic Wonderful Letter from the Editor: The Secret Weapon Letter from the Editor: Fly Fishing for the Greater Good Western Design: Mountain Zen Western Design: Creekside Contemporary Living Big Sky on HGTV The Spirit of the West in Jackson, Wyoming Letter from the Editor: First Snow Dining Out: The Old Hotel Letter from the Editor: Signs of Summer Letter from the Editor: The Angler’s Sojourn Dining Out: Simply Good Food From the Editor: Hit the Road Making a Statement: Miller Architects Letter from the Editor: Winter’s Toll Letter from the Editor: Evolving Home Dining Out: Comfort Food Western Design: Cowboy Modern Western Design: The Idaho Club Letter from the Editor: Talking Art Dining Out: Conserving Montana One Table at a Time Dining Out: Cosmopolitan Cuisine at TEN Dining Out: Ranch to Restaurant Letter from the Editor: Waiting for Summer Letter from the Editor: Arts Economy Letter from the Editor: First Frost Letter from the Editor: Why Art? Letter from the Editor: Up Close and Personal Letter from the Editor: A Tradition of Talent Letter from the Editor: Winter Reflection Dining Out: The Taste of Whitefish Letter from the Editor: How Big is Your Bucket Letter from the Editor: Falling Short Western Design: Rustic Allure Dining Out: Fish Food Western Design: In the Studio with Painter Hugh Wilson Western Design: Home Base From the Editor Dining Out: Tradition, with a Twist Letter from the Editor: Staying Power
February 2012

In late September my husband and I made a date for our anniversary. “Dinner?” he suggested. “And snorkeling,” I said. He raised his eyebrows questioningly, but called the restaurant for reservations. I secured a babysitter while he gathered the gear.

Let me backtrack. I’m not the first to think of snorkeling the Yellowstone River. A few guys in Livingston have braved these waters for years; my husband is one of them. They plan treasure hunts and full-moon forays into the river geared up with drysuits, gloves, flippers and, of course, mask and snorkel. Although they fish and hunt, raft and hike, bike and run, among other stuff, the exploits they talk of most are days snorkeling. I’d heard plenty of their stories and I wanted to try it for myself.

The next evening we began at the Mill Creek bridge. The plan was to snorkel to our favorite restaurant, about two river miles downstream. My husband, he likes to swim. My agenda, however, was deeper: I wanted to know where the fish are. This was a recon mission; I was out to find the honey holes.

We took the plunge. Eyes wide open, enduring the head-freeze sensation, I adjusted to the cold water and let the current take me. Head down, swimming freestyle, my husband moved to the middle of the river. Disoriented and moving faster than I expected, my face in the water, I watched rocks, logs and river algae zoom by. Just in time, I pulled my head above the surface to see a massive boulder coming up quickly. My husband swam deftly around the obstacle. Slightly panicked, I righted my body to float feet first downriver, narrowly skirting the rock.

We reached a slow bend and I tried again, putting my head down and traversing from bank to bank. I tried to breathe steadily, hands out, body flexed and flat along the surface of the water, Superman style. I focused on my purpose. See the fish, be the fish. This mantra took on a rhythm to match my snorkel-breathing. See the fish, be the fish.

For hours I spotted flashes of silver darting away from me as I flew past. Autumn sunlight illuminated certain underwater sections to gold, while trees shaded other parts to black. My eyes adjusted. A pair of kayakers raced by above. The afternoon rolled on: no fish.

Then just at our take out point, the river eddied. I duck-dived to a deep spot, which we often cruise by when floating this stretch. Down there, the river bottom turns to pebbles and it is quiet. Near a gravelly bed I grabbed hold of a prominent rock to anchor myself. When my eyes adjusted to the soft light I saw them. A group of big browns schooled up on the bottom. Their tails wafted in the current. Their spots were shimmery-camouflage in the aquatic light. I counted 30 fish before I had to come up for a breath. When I dove again, they had scattered.

Now, I know where the fish are. We’ll see if it does me any good this season.

Luckily, the BSJ roster of experienced anglers have more to offer in terms of advice. In our annual Fly Fishing issue, read how the prestigious Jackson Hole One Fly tournament just might save a fishery near you (“Casting for Conservation") and accompany Jeff Erickson (“Fire and Ice in the Rockies”) in his Northern Rockies odyssey. In the photo essay "Planet Fish," Jim Klug shares his macro-glimpses of far-flung catches, while troutman Steve Akre keeps things closer to home following the Bitterroot Skwala hatch (“A Sign of Spring”). Look for the best yarns on the water (“Fish Tales") with stories from Greg Keeler, E. Donnall Thomas and Fred Melton.

See the fish, be the fish.

Photo by Tom Murphy

Photo by Tom Murphy