Annual Report 2016

I'll start this post with a scene to warm the holiday season.  A summer pond reflection from near Cooke City, Montana.  Only the mosquitos are missing.

The year started and ended frosty.   Sub zero temperatures in January and December bookended the year.  Other than minor inconvenience, the cold weather was short lived and offered a brief respite from fishing.

I've grown to prefer fishing midges.  Often, they're a most reliable hatch.  And, mid-winter, the only game if one desires casting to rising trout.  Thankfully, February and March were both nice and offered several pleasant days and opportunities for squinting at the waters surface. Midges continued to fish well into May.

In spite of declining visual acuity, fishing with twenty-two's became routine.  I comfortably ventured into the use of 7X and now view 6X as a luxury.  Five X is nearly suitable for dredging up halibut.

Lucy, the matriarch of the sofa claiming dog clan made it beyond sixteen.  She left behind three daughters, a grand daughter and two sometimes perplexed humans.  She was most photogenic and posed prettily with retrieved birds.

Brittany posing with ruffed grouse

Meanwhile, Katie, aka Noodlehead, showed signs of becoming a credible bird dog.  When birds were scarce she demonstrated her prowess at finding and retrieving the bones of big game animals of seasons past.

Brittany retrieving a Hungarian partridge

Summer arrived, and minor infirmity and a sudden bout of sensibility kept me from embarking on a major assault on the high country, at least one wherein I was the pack animal.  I had great plans.  I bought a new pack in the spring.  It still has the store tag attached.  It will still be new next year.

More days were passed on the water without wetting a line.  I spent more time watching, waiting and  hoping that all of the observing would teach me something.  With all due respect to Rene Harrop and his wonderful book Learning from the Water, I learned that I'm capable of spending  a lot of time doing nothing while staring at the water.

After a dismal 2015, the fruit trees and strawberries produced bountifully this year.  The wife's vegetable garden took most of the summer to come out of its early season funk.  But, eventually there were tomatoes on the table.  It was a great year for flowers though.  Why is it that the blooms are at their best when the first frost hits?

And, I reached a personal milestone, geologically speaking.  Sixty.  I've concluded that I'll never be perfect, bullet proof or young again.     The accumulated indignities have taken a toll.  This skinny little carcass wasn't designed to haul animals five times its weight or for shoveling countless truckloads of landscape rock.  Apparently, my lack of physical stature has been more than compensated for by an equal lack of common sense.  But as they say, life goes on.  How many more score remain?

Idaho.  My nemesis was and still is the Henry's Fork.  Someday I'll catch a "real fish".

It was another outstanding autumn.  September, October and November all fished well and I piled on miles between Montana, Idaho and eastern Washington.  Most satisfying were a couple of late November afternoons of casting blue-winged olives to rising trout.   December likely will pass without knotting a fly to the leader.  

Jo and the girls continue to be the hunters of the household.  My hunting license remained unused.  The old 30:06 stayed in its case.  I was content to watch deer rather than shoot.  Maybe next year the hunter gatherer urge will stir.

Til then, I will, as the natives say, continue to play with my food.  I'll content myself by casting small flies to small fish, which if caught, will be released to play the game on yet another day.

That is, at least, when I'm not staring blankly at the water.

All the best to all......


  1. Never perfect, bullet proof or young again? Henry's Fork still a nemesis! Jeez, Les, almost thought you were talking about me for a moment. Otherwise, a fine summary of a good year, and I'm hoping you have a happy new year with wife, pups, and Montana hunting & fishing grounds.

    1. Walt, who needs youth, we still have our good looks to fall back on, don't we?

      All the best to you and your family for 2017.

  2. Lester
    Really enjoyed reading this post; details time past and some good years left----I got you beat by 9 come January---where have the years gone?? You and the family have a great Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

    1. Bill, I sure hope that we've got some good years left. The one's we've had have passed in a hurry.

      Merry Christmas to you and your family in your new home.

  3. Hi Les, great yearend review. Happy New Year! Bob

    1. Hi Bob, looks like Alberta and Montana have been sharing the same snow and cold since near after Thanksgiving. It doesn't look like we'll see a forty degree day 'til the New Year. Likewise, have a happy....

  4. I love those dog photos Les..can't get enough of them..

    1. They're pretty photogenic aren't they? Glad you liked them Mike. I'll post more as I get them but my photography and fishing have slacked a bit lately. Hope you and your latest understudy pup are doing well.

  5. Lester, couldn't find your email so I'm leaving a comment on your last post----Hope everything is find with you, haven't seen a post in months, hope to see you back on the blog circuit soon-----Bill

    1. Hi Bill, thanks for the concern. I've started a few posts but they all ended up as drafts. None struck me as being particularly good. The few photos that I've taken just got filed away too. Other than some vision issues I'm doing ok. Sometimes the dogs roll around on me as if I were a mackerel that's been out in the sun too long. I tell them....."I'm not dead yet!"


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