Books: Writing the West (Arts 2013)

Literary reviews of the Northern Rockies


Local Knowledge: King of the Road

The only remaining AAA reporter hits the back roads of Montana

Photo by Denver Bryan

Letter from the Editor: The Secret Weapon

Before I was old enough to understand obsession, my grandfather was passing on his love of fly fishing to me

Written by Seabring Davis  

Seabring Davis

Other Contributions

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 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 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: 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: Staying Power
March 2010

Before I was old enough to understand obsession, my grandfather was passing on his love of fly fishing to me. He’d talk, as much to himself as to me, about his days on the Yellowstone, the Firehole, California’s Russian River and countless others as he practiced roll casting in the yard.

All year he’d prepare for his fishing trips, researching, reading, talking to other fisherman about his plans. He was preoccupied with fly fishing. He built his own rods. He tied his own flies.

When it was just the two of us he’d furtively untuck treasures from his fly-tying box to show me — an eagle feather, a snow white ermine tail, coyote fur — things that resonate with a kid. He had boxes of neat stuff stashed and categorized like treasure. In the evenings he’d take out his trove of what my grandmother called junk, pull the desk light close to a vise, and for hours he’d weave, twist and tie flies to match designs he’d seen in a book or a magazine.

But it wasn’t until I was about 11 when I got to fish with him for real in Wyoming. It was on the North Platte River in late July. The high plains sky was clear blue, the day was hot and the river was slow. Drifting for a bit, then wading for a while with huge hopper imitations tied on, my Grandpa let me flog the river for several hours, patient as a saint. He talked and smoked, coached and laughed along with me, content to just be on the water.

Ambling into afternoon, I remember he called the river “legendary” and declared those big fish too smart for any of us. Maybe he talked about the nuances of fly fishing a tailwater stream, of the storied reports of the biggest rainbow fishing in the Lower 48. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember. I was so busy trying to hook a fish and to impress this man, that I barely recall anything but frustration.

Thankfully, my grandfather was no saint. Though he was a purist of a fly fisherman, he also knew when to draw the line. In response to my continued frustration, he pulled out the secret weapon, only to be used in the direst of times during an angler’s life — a rig with a spin reel, bobber and bait. Yes. Bait.

In what seemed like seconds, I had a fish on. A nice-sized rainbow. We cleaned it and cooked it for dinner that night. He didn’t mention anything about the blasphemy of bait fishing. I was a kid and my Grandpa taught me to fish, that was all. Obsession came later.

With this annual Fly Fishing Issue, we hope you’ll discover the best of what the Northern Rockies has to offer.