Panorama of river running through forest.

Tomorrow’s weather forecast is calling for a sunny Saturday with a high of 54 degrees.  With above freezing temperatures as far out as the predictions go, it finally feels safe to say that spring has arrived here in Missoula. We have a couple of boats heading out tomorrow to do some scouting before things get rolling, and I’m sure we’re not the only ones cleaning out boat coolers that may or may not have been touched since the fall.  You can feel the shift happening, and I’d expect tomorrow to be a very busy day for the shuttle drivers on the Bitterroot.

Spring is sure to return each year just like a new sunrise each day, yet its arrival is always greeted with welcome arms and relieved expressions.  Wade anglers take to the recently cleared banks, and oarsmen eagerly hop in their boats anticipating the changes that the shifting ice has made to the river.  Many people may accept that the first official day of spring in 2022 is March 20th, but for restless Missoulians we’ll celebrate it on the 12th this year.

Blue bird days reignite connections in small communities annually dimmed by winter’s grasp.   Something as simple as a phone call to a shuttle driver sparks conversations of holidays, warm wishes, and memories of seasons past.  There is always a common denominator and tone throughout the springtime conversations; anticipation for the unknown season to come.

Springtime brings with it each year a blank slate.  Fabled fish from last year are now back in our discussions, and we look forward to being reintroduced to one another.  Tomorrow we have our sights set on a specific fish that has haunted our dreams all winter. We’ll impatiently make our way downriver to his former lair, and try to be the first angler to drift a fly over his nose in 2022.  For now, we’ll clean our coolers, double check our gear, and imagine the endless possibilities that spring may bring.