My last day off was June 2nd.  Today is my first.

I am sitting here this morning in a sleeping house as the sun’s coming up processing what just happened.  This is my 17th season of being a fishing outfitter. We have river scars from the stories that can only be earned by time on the water and the will to produce trout despite the inevitable floods, fires, storms, heatwaves, and two twitchy opinionated anglers who demand shorter guide oars because they keep hitting your blades with their well presented flies. I get it. This is the life, but over the last 7 weeks I saw things that I didn’t know could exist. There were a lot of them – Brutality to the point of comedy.

First lets start with the most important things. The blog wasn’t. It was a victim of triage-

Patch Godown is one of the finest men I have had the honor to work with.  He is loyal, bright, honest, and the hardest worker. He is for me what defines the ultimate river warrior.  He has been a core guide for us and is a major part of our staff’s success.  Patch has been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer at 38 years old after never smoking, so whatever bullshit thing I had to deal with lately pales in comparison the fight he is in. He is a stud and I believe he will make it through.  Over the next month we will be helping Sean O’Brian at Osprey Fly Shop in Hamilton Montana organizing a benefit for him on August 20th in Florence, Montana. He is unable to work right now and it is important we generate funds to help him out.  Cancer really sucks.

Brooks Jessen has been with me since the first day I was an outfitter. He is one of my closest friends and is the clear thinking balance to what can be my overzealous nature.  I have done more two boat shots with him than any other human and he has helped teach and improve all of our angling abilities.  We came up the ranks together as two dumbshit know nothing young guides trying to carve out careers on these inherently unpredictable rivers. We joke about how everybody seemed to get younger at the boat ramp while we happen to be the same age even though the back seems to hurt more and the ten day unshaved guide shadow is starting to look like an old goat’s. The amount of river knowledge he has is stunning.  Brooks shattered his leg in a motorcycle accident June 11th.  There was a chance that the final solution was amputation, but so far it is looking like he will have a long recovery but a recovery that includes keeping his leg.

The loss of these two men during our busiest season took some machinations that I hope to never see again, but whatever consequences we endured on the schedule pales into comparison the fight for health.

Thank you Evan, Ryan, Caleb, Nate, Jacob, James, Chris, Stan, Chase, Aaron B, Aaron F, Mike, Brian, Matt, Doug, Curt, Rob, Bob, David, Mike T, and John. You helped us through this rocky road and have re-booked the vast majority of our trips.

Thank you to Carrie, KJ, and my lovely wife. You guys kept the Lodge operating exceptionally well when I was essentially an overrun fly fishing guide instead of a Lodge operator.

What I learned was we have an incredible team of talented clear thinking individuals that stayed positive in the face of adversity.

As for the other part of  this guide run I can confidently say I will have no shortage of stories to tell about June and early July of the 2017 Missoula fly fishing guide season.  I don’t want more of them, because we are all filled up with crazy for now. All full here, no more room. I will need to get them processed out via the blog.

Like Willie Says – Its been rough and rocky traveling but I’m finally standing upright on the ground. And after taking several readings I’m surprised to find my mind’s still fairly sound.