It was a subway-like reflection of light in an oh-so-natural place.

With terrible fires ravaging western Montana, a cavalcade of insects streamed above us doing what they do – racing up-river to mate, reproduce, and ultimately create the fly-fishing bonanza we humans were waiting for.

If you’ve ever stood on a subway platform and seen people streaming by on trains, this is a similar sight – only it’s above you, mirrored by a soft pink sky created by smoke from the horrendous fires hundreds of miles away.

But so unlike the cacophony of a subway station, it was delightfully quiet and peaceful.

I was a bystander – more a “bysitter” – in the drift boat, waiting, like all the other anglers at certain spots on the river.

We were up at 4:30 a.m. and launching the boat by 5:30 toward this select spot that was perfect for fishing the Trico hatch. (I encourage you to Google “Trico hatch.” I will not elaborate on it now for space and time reasons.)

Floating down a large river in the dark is amazingly vibrant.

While we could see light from a few distant houses and streetlights, we were mostly surrounded with sliver-black darkness — coated in the backdrop of a magnificent starscape.

There was the gentlest breeze at times, and it was remarkably warm for early September.

Water at night has a different feel. Perhaps because you hear it more than you see it.

Rivers have that dark, inky look at night, and from a fly fisherman’s perspective, a completely different feel from when wading in daylight.

Maybe you notice the water more. It can be a constant reminder of the flow of life you are in at that moment, and overall … but I digress.

As we floated to our destination, the three of us in the boat were more silent than talkative, which was pretty much the opposite of when we floated during the day.

The silence was refreshing, and allowed for a deeper appreciation of the moment.

We arrived at the spot we wanted to fish, and the wait began.

Eventually, the fishing provided by scores of rising trout was more than memorable.

As the sun rose on this new day, the soft, hazy and pink light filtered through the smoke created a surreal setting.

I felt I was inside a painting by Russell Chatham.

It was lovely.

Maybe we’ll see each other on the water.


Fly fisherman with headlamp on by the big horn river dam

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