Winter has arrived with full force in Montana and most Missoula Fly Fishing Guides finished their season a few weeks ago. The end of the trout season overlaps with the most magical time of year in the west. There are so many possibilites each fall and such a short window of opportunity to try to cram it all in. It is a fascinating time to watch the guide community scramble in pursuit of their other passions. We all truly love trout fishing, but after a season’s worth of early mornings, long days, and sore bodies it is time to do something else, anything else. The pull of lounging on a comfortable couch is strong, but the clock is ticking in the fall and no one knows for sure when the window will slam shut. The alarm is set earlier for the morning after the last guide shift. Some are steelhead junkies who spend the remainder of the fall swinging flies with two handed rods for chrome needles in a haystack. Others follow their bird dogs through the plains of the Big Sky in search of the next flush. Big game tops the list for many who sight in their rifles and can’t wait to get to elk camp. You would be hard pressed to find any Missoula guide who wasn’t engaged in one of these activities in their first week off. Some even attempt to do it all each fall and no one does it better than my good friend, Karl. After his final guide day he was off for a quick three days of steelhead fishing, then four days of pheasants in eastern Montana, back to Idaho for three more days of swinging flies with his wife followed by three days in central Montana for elk, and then early morning duck trips and afternoon deer hunts an hour from town. His first baby is due any day now so his trips are limited to those with flawless cell coverage. The post season is the perfect release for Missoula fly fishing guides who have worked hard day in and day out to help others experience the bounty of Montana. By January we will start to feel the itch to get back on the water, but right now the stories traded over beers are about the recent hunt, the swung steelhead, and the next trip. We all want just one more trip!
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