Missoula fishing guides are not normal humans. While the rest of western Montana is overjoyed to see the arrival of sunny weather in the 60’s and 70’s fishing guides can be seen muttering under their breath and cursing their bad luck. The spring season is always a tightrope act of temps warm enough to get the big bugs moving but not too warm to push the snowpack out of the mountains and into our rivers. Sunny and 70 seems great, but right now it either means cancelled trips or long drives over to the Missouri river. Give me 55 and cloudy until May 1st and I’ll have less gray hairs at the end of the year. Odd behavior by Missoula guides isn’t only limited to this time of year though. We are a strange lot, and most of this revolves around the weather. Can you think of any other collective group that prays at night for cloudy skies? A lot like ranchers and farmers we look to the heavens every morning and hope our prayers our answered. Clouds mean confident trout and good dry fly fishing while the blazing sun translates into vacant water and sunburned anglers. Add a little light rain in the fall please to get those mayfly hatches rolling full steam. Wind? We never actually say the word, true veterans never even think it. It’s simply referred to as the “W” and if it rears it’s ugly head it can ruin your day in a flash. Sunny and warm with a slight breeze to keep you cool might be perfect if you’re a civilian but fly fishers and especially fly fishing guides live for cloudy and calm. It always makes me laugh at the market in the morning when I’m picking up lunch. The cashier will almost always innocently comment on the weather and you can be sure that I’m always thinking the opposite. She’ll say, “It looks beautiful out there today.” Translation: sunny and warm, Guide translation: damn infernal sun and no rising fish today…I hate life! Or “Glad I’m not out there today.” Translation: cloudy and cool, Guide translation: I live for these days, thank God! I love my job! Fishing guides, we’re not quite right in the head but we have one helluva an office.
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