I was lucky enough to grow up in the beautiful state of Montana. My hometown of Bozeman was nestled neatly between the Madison, Gallatin and Yellowstone rivers and surrounded by a bounty of lakes, ponds and small streams that were all a fly fisherman’s delight.
At the age of 8, my mom would drive me the 27 miles to Livingston where I would present a box full of my hand tied creations to the local fly shop hoping to take home a few dollars for my trouble. I’m sure I didn’t appreciate at the time the effort that my mom was making for me as I pursued my passion for the sport of fly fishing. In the hustle of today’s busy world I often look back at those days and wish I could fall back into the comfortable arms of my family and especially those of my mom.
We would take day trips through the Gallatin Canyon or the short drive to Ennis where she would lay out a blanket along the bank and keep a watchful eye as I would wade as far as possible into the rushing current in hopes of landing a fish. I always knew when I had gone to far as I could hear her clear her voice and use her favorite nick name for me as she would encourage me to come back closer to shore. Every now and then I would actually catch a fish and she would celebrate with me as it danced across the surface of a blue Montana river. I’m sure they weren’t big fish and there certainly wasn’t a lot of them, but at that stage of my fishing career, it didn’t take much to make me fall in love with the art of fly fishing.
My mom is gone now but I still feel her presence each time I make a long, silky cast. I can still hear her voice of encouragement just when frustration grows. I also share her patience as I teach others to love the sport as I do. After all, that’s what she taught me to do.
If I had one wish on this upcoming Mother’s Day, I would take her fishing! I would prepare her favorite lunch of thick potato salad, roast beef sandwiches and of course, lots of black coffee. I would carefully place the red, plaid blanket under a big shady tree, making sure there were no ants close by to ruin the party. I would fish close so she could share in the fun and have pride not in my ability but in my passion for doing things right and to make the most of my ability. I would take more breaks from fishing to spend time with her in the sun. We would talk about when I was small and what I would do when I became a dad. I would promise her again that I would always give my kids all the opportunity that she gave me and I would keep that promise for all my days on earth. But more than anything, I would cherish that day with her more than I may have when I was young. Age certainly brings funny lines to your face, a little extra weight here and there but it also brings wisdom which is truly a gift. My gift was having the best mom in the world and I’ll never forget her.
I hope that you all have the same wonderful thoughts that I have at this time of year and I hope that if you have a chance this Mother’s Day, you’ll take take your mom fishing and cherish the time as you make memories for a lifetime! Happy Mother’s Day Mom, I love you!
Fish Strong, Fish Often!