Missoula Fly Fishing Guide Photography

This is a salmon fly.  Right now they are hatching and flying on Rock Creek. Right Now. When that happens and the flows are under 1500 cfs I am a very good guide providing numerous dry fly opportunities.  I was a very good guide yesterday.  The summer Missoula dry fly season is here.

Now onto more important things like trashing Brooks Jessen.

Before the above insect hatched and when the flows were too high I was an ineffective Rock Creek fly fishing guide.  So I moved the ten anglers on Monday’s trip over the the Missouri so I could be a better guide.

If you haven’t fished the Missouri I will have to give you some references to help appreciate the frustrating fate of Brooks Jessen. The top boat ramp is called “The Dam”, three miles downstream “Wolf Creek”, 7 miles later “Craig”, 6 miles later “Stickney Creek”.  This constitutes the upper sections of the famous Missouri tailwater runs.  It is extremely popular with an almost constant onslaught of boats enjoying its dense trout populations and their willingness to eat flies.

Myself and four of our Missoula fly fishing guide staff were late to the river because of our drive from Missoula.  Brooks was already in Craig with his clients so he was early on the water.  The way the boat traffic worked out that day it made sense for the 5 boats coming out of Missoula to put in together and party fish. The speed of our fly fishing pace had all ten anglers and guides eating at the Wolf Creek Bridge fishing access.  We hauled all our coolers up to the campground at Wolf Creek and enjoyed a sunny day lunch.  During that lunch of 15 anglers trash was created – paper plates, dead beers, water bottles, and a fair amount of extremely strong garlic/olive oil salad was gathered up by us to clean the campground.

While cleaning up after lunch I happen to noticed that Brooks’ truck was parked at the ramp.  I figured he had done a quick float in the the morning and then doubled shuttled up to the dam and his truck was at his final destination.  I knew he was planning to start early and be off early to get home after 3 days on the road eating at the Oasis bar in Wolf Creek, Montana.  He told me the night before when I was getting the fishing report that “The Suze” is still sorta single but leaning on Bear nightly while Snangler rambles on about secret flies, and the seafood sampler is still something to avoid or order for an enemy.

Brooks’ started his day knowing that the early on the river game was going to keep him ahead of the traffic, stick a bunch of fish in perfect weather, and then be home early after a road trip.  This was going to be an easy fly fishing guide day when it started. However, he did not count on us eating a lunch that had generated so much refuse near his truck.

Brooks always has an extremely nice truck and takes immaculate car of it.  He washes it daily and I believe he polishes his rims with a toothbrush and the inner lining of a diaper.  The current 50k version is a red tricked out F-150 truck that always shines.

As I was gathering odiferous remnants of our large group’s lunch I thought the combination of our garlicy oily trash and his truck would provide me with a smile.  As I tied overfull bags of trash to his truck and driver’s side door handle I found that I got more than I bargained for.  I was laughing as well as smiling.  There were other member’s of our F-150 trash delivery crew, but Brooks has threatened to roll us all in the ditch, so I must take full responsibility for the assault on Brook’s OCD vehicle care.  40ish men who are still fishing guides this late in life start to regress socially to the approximate level of 7th graders.  40ish fly fishing guides also have highly developed knot tying skills so the trash bags would prove difficult to remove especially when they have been placed to prevent easy or sanitary entrance to a vehicle.

As I got back into the boat I rehearsed my inevitable response to the following end of day conversation.

Brooks – “Hey Cummings, really funny messing with my truck. That salad shit was gross.”

Me – “What are you talking about?”

Brooks – “Do you know how long its going to take me to get the olive oil off the rims.”

Me – “Olive oil on your pretty rims?? That is going to be about a 5 diaper job.”

Brooks – “I would get you back, but hanging trash on your truck would be an upgrade.”

I smiled the rest of my Missouri river guide shift planning a string of witty retorts that would effectively needle my good friend.

Sadly the conversation never occurred, because Brook’s short easy day had taken a sharp turn for the worse and greatly diminished his will to partake in our junior high antics.

The reason Brooks’ truck was in our sights was not that it had been shuttled, rather it had not been and would not be. He had forgot to write down on the shuttle sheet the time he needed to be off, so the drivers just didn’t do it. If you think the shuttle driver’s logic is odd, then you have never gotten a shuttle on the Missouri river.

So as Brooks pulled into Stickney creek early he was without a ride.  Because he was early there was no one there to give him a ride.  That there is no cell service at that boat ramp compounded the bum deal that was being dealt. Brooks became a hitchhiker, but once again because of the early off no one was on the frontage road. All the guides that would have given him a ride were still on the river. After an extended hike in the 90 degree heat over the blacktop in fishing sandals he eventually caught a ride to his present laden truck.

I don’t know if he smiled or if in rage he mentally counted up the diapers it would take clean his rims.  Either way when he finally called me he sounded broken so I confessed quickly sans all the wit I had prepared. After he filled me in on his shuttle fiasco we both laughed, but his mirth had a distinct dark edge to it.

The last thing he said was “Karma is a bitch.”

As I was sitting in the rain yesterday on my birthday on Rock Creek Road for two and half hours waiting on a shuttle that didn’t show for me, but did for Brooks, I started to re-think the decision to find humor in Brooks’ Joe inflicted sorrow.

Then a bottle of whiskey showed up from another shuttleless boat. We drank it in the rain and I regaled my new friends with stories of the Missouri on Monday and the Brooks Jessen trail of tears.

7th grade grown men don’t really learn or change.

We do laugh a lot.