Catching Up – Fins and Feathers Bozeman
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Catching Up

I’m siting here in my newly acquired travel trailer, parked at Cottonwood Camp on the Bighorn River, watching the morning sun slowly start to find the sky to the east. I’ve spent plenty a morning here at Cottonwood Camp with friends and guests, but those mornings were always focused on getting on the water. Today though, savoring the moment and reveling in some gratitude is so much more fulfilling.

I’m siting here in my newly acquired travel trailer, parked at Cottonwood Camp on the Bighorn River, watching the morning sun slowly start to find the sky to the east. I’ve spent plenty a morning here at Cottonwood Camp with friends and guests, but those mornings were always focused on getting on the water. Today though, savoring the moment and reveling in some gratitude is so much more fulfilling.

2020 has sucked, plain and simple. I’m looking forward to what lies on the other side of the next few months rather than the slog that we will all making through them.

In terms of our business - the numbers, the sales, the transactions, and new customer acquisition has never looked so strong. The surge started back in mid-march when 5000 people lost their jobs in the Gallatin Valley one Monday morning. The phones rang off the hooks and people stood in lines outside our store to buy fishing licenses, get some information, and pick up some gear for their next outing. Many of these folks were new to fly-fishing, but Bozeman, Montana is about the easiest place on the planet to get into fly-fishing and they took advantage of the opportunity en masse. They headed to the rivers, lakes, and streams with their new kits and learned how to have fun with fly-fishing, largely on their own or with just the aid of some online tutorials. The sport and the experience hooked many this year that might not have discovered the sport for decades to come.

It has been refreshing to see so much enthusiasm from so many people about the sport, it gives me hope that our voices will be louder and cleared as continued pressures on our resources start to impact the waters we all love. I’ve never been much of an environmental activist, mostly just because I know that there are always two sides to a story and the loudest voices aren’t always right. Although some will encourage us to write our senators, show up for courthouse rallies, and hash tag this or that in social media posts – I am of the ilk that the best way to protect our natural resources is to enjoy them, cherish them, and let that joy drive you to protect them for your kids – or your neighbors kids. It is my hope that our collective “environmental compassion” is and will continue to be a priority in our daily lives as we navigate the brave new world together.

It seems like Mother Nature is pissed - rightfully so. I’m trying to do a better job of giving a shit about things that I used to not.

The call of the water and the fish is as strong and loud as ever in my life these days. After watching my youngest child spend months alone at home, I resolved to make sure that we made up for it as soon as conditions at work allowed. Things stabilized in mid-August, so the little guy and I have been on the road a few days a week –fishing and exploring Montana and Idaho. In addition to just having fun, we have been practicing for remote learning and remote work – we are just doing it from cool places with lots of fun in between.

We have certainly not been alone on our travels, it’s been inspiring to see so many people engaged with the great outdoors. Solitude and quiet can be easily found in your basement, so don’t complain about running into other people on the water anymore – it’s an ineffective, selfish and petty way to go about the day. Believe me, I spent decades complaining about crowded rivers – I was wrong to complain about that.

The sun is now up, behind a smoky haze making the day ahead appear to be overcast rather than “sunny and clear.” I miss my friends from around the country that took the year off from traveling to Montana. I miss my friends and staff that have moved on to new adventures. I miss the “good ‘old days.”

However, I can’t wait to go fish with my kids today. My older son has just developed a passion for fly-fishing in the last year and his youthful enthusiasm just makes me smile. The little guy has always been my fishing buddy, but he is now starting to become his own man and I miss the little guy more so than I realize at time. He will be rowing us at times today though – which sounds great to most but causes confusion to me.

That’s always been my job, so now what I am supposed to do? Just catch them all, I guess.

Thank you to all for being a part of the great outdoors and letting myself and our staff at Fins & Feathers share in your passion – whether it’s new or old! Your patronage is important, but it’s your excitement for the experience that breaks the monotony and makes our jobs actually seem fulfilling at times!

Enjoy the rest of the summer, fish until it snows and then look for me, dressed in Yellow and spraying rooster tails wherever the fresh gnar piles up this winter!