Fishing the Big Hole River

The trick
Fishing for lunkers
This side of the Continental Divide
On a stretch of the Big Hole River
From Glen to Twin Bridges
Has little to do with incredible graphite
Or a tailored 6 lb tippet.

Flip your streamer
Up and across stripping line off
In a dead drift, back slow then
In hand rolls, now and again
With a short twitch,
Your marabou muddler like this
Underneath the surface,
Every inch a sculpin.

When evening winds rise
And the sun stacks up on top of the hills ­—
you’ll tie a blood knot on the line
Between you and the world.
No cinch, the brute the current cuts loose
In pursuit of its life,
Knifes the air once
And again in such twists
You know this is it where you stand.

And where you step in hard,
Hard because you stand straight
Balancing grace at each end,
Though a sure knot held,
A light grip cushioned each lunge,
Tempered steel barbed bone,
Snapped and let go.

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