What do you do when you purchased a 2-day Montana fishing license, and day-1 with kids went terribly wrong? We came up with some ideas: plan better, and bribe the kids with everything we had. Ice cream? Yes. Money? Of course. Hot Springs? You kids are going to have the best afternoon ever if you let your mamas fish this morning.
With careful consideration, the three of us moms decided the best way to keep the troops happy was to give them what they want: movies. Some moms take their kids outdoors to get their kids away from technology, but [in this case] we take our kids into nature to use technology as an
educational piece babysitter. It balances out, because we spent last evening bouncing all over Yellowstone National Park, yelling at Bison and listening to the word “geyser” more than the average parent ever should. It was like sensory over load, which justifies bringing them back down to the real world by watching movies in a car while their mom’s fished. The tag-team approach was the name of the game, and we were sure planning on winning this one.
I borrow Holly’s knife and therapeutically cut off half of the felt from my flapping wader boot, soaked in cow excrement and bad memories of the day before. With a creepy smile I throw the cut off piece in a bag, empty out a pile of sand toys next to the car, slap sun screen on my prodigy, and tie on the caddis puppa arrangement that I know will be money today (well the fly shop had a sign next to them that said ‘these are hot’, anyways).
Meagan graciously said she would take the first shift since she bought a full year license and possibly saw my eye twitching from too much kid time. How did I get such good friends? I remind my kids of the deal we have, of good behavior-meets-rewards, and follow Holly down to the river.
Is it strange I’m satisfied just being on the river? I am even more excited when I catch my first rainbow near the shore and look upstream to see Holly has a fish on as well. “Just one fish”, I always tell myself. But today, I know the kid movie is just getting started, so I decide to cross through a swifter part of the river to get to an island in the middle that looks promising. One step in front of the other, with felt only on the back half of one boot, I don’t rely on it much.
I can see some rough water, with a slower riffle above it that looks trouty. No one else is around, and I cast out my nymph rig, mending while my indicator bobs joyously on it’s ride. Then bam, it dives under and I set the hook. Its a nice rainbow; I fight it for a bit and drag it into the slower water to avoid the rapids below. My mom-pants are wet at the bottom legs and I can’t help but flash the trees with my purple underwear when I bend over to take the hook out of this lovely catch.
I let her go and holler, “Redemption!” When I look up, I see a fly fisherman, inching his way closer to me. Cool. I’m sure he saw my purple underwear. Oh well. I cast again and catch this:
Then, once I realized my purple underwear were hanging out again, I looked around and noticed the fisherman is now directly across the river from me now. He is fully decked out, with the fancy fly fishing gear, buff to cover his entire face, expensive glasses, top of the line waders, and every gadget you could possibly need hanging off of him. I’m standing there in my outfit that says I didn’t expect much today but I’m not afraid to change roles. I catch a brown trout next and he watches me the entire time. He’s not going to cast here, right? Who would do that? I hold my ground and cast out all the way across the river so he knows I can hold my ground, and even though I look like an un-prepared stay at home mom dinking around, I actually know what I’m doing. I catch another bigger rainbow and he casts upstream from me a bit. I call Meagan and kind of yell so ‘people’ can hear, “I’m in this awesome spot. Come out here and I’ll trade spots with you!”
I see Holly in the distance, doing the fish dance of reeling in at the same time I dance with another one that looks like a cutthroat this time. This is like the money/melting pot of fish right here! Holly starts walking back, going to take a turn with the munchkins (did I mention I have cool friends). Gear guy fishes the smaller back eddies almost right across from me. Meagan makes her way over and we hold our ground on the pot of gold stretch of river I found. She catches a fat white fish. Once she lands the fish, gear guy decides to walk back downstream. I think we won, so I make my way back to the kids, so jazzed that I just caught so many fish in a row! Like, really jazzed…
The scene at the car is perfect: sand toys scattered, kids running around laughing, and nervous fly fisherman hiding near their cars to avoid eye contact with us. Holly and I chuckle a bit at the scene, stoked that this tag-team-mom-rotation is working so well today. She heads back out for a bit and the kids and I decide to walk to a little creek to make sandwiches and explore. Holly’s son finds a gardener snake and the kids reel over that for a while. Of all the things we do, pushing the stroller through the grass as a lawn mower is their top priority and not one single kid asks to watch another movie. What an amazing day.
Meagan makes her way back and has caught some more fish, but couldn’t believe what gear guy did after I left: He forged his way through the swift water to set foot ON MY ISLAND. Then, Meagan said he inched his way up-stream so close that she could see his dry fly, pathetically tossing it out as far as he could. Holly had a similar experience with gear guy. So we ganged up on him and broke his fly rod and ripped his fancy buff off of his white face, like the evil step sisters did to Cinderella, and told him to NEVER come here again. 😉 (I’m sure his face is really pasty from all that buff on a not too sunny day. Come on don’t we need a little bit of sun?)
No, we didnt beat him up, because we were the ones winning! My friend, Meagan, wrote this on her facebook, and I couldn’t agree more:
“One of my favorite moments of this past week was realizing that, at least for a few hours on this river, three tag-teaming mothers were consistently out-fishing the full Buff-faced, well-outfitted dry-fly snobs who kept encroaching on our space. (Isn’t there a rule that if I can see your midge, you’re too close?) I am still very much a beginner, so moments like this still make me smile and feel grateful for other mothers who need to fish. #justnymph #flyfishing#montana #cutthroatleaders,” ~Meagan Newberry
You know in the movies when people gather after they pull off a heist? When they stand there, with a smile, just feeling proud of what they accomplished together…. This is how I felt after a few successful hours on the Madison River with these wonderful ladies and our well-
bribed behaved children. I hope the gear guy learned a few things: some moms wear purple underwear, get more creative on exploring the river, and have that fly shop that sold you all that gear teach you a few manners.
Here we are, the valiant heroes: (my daughter took this picture so we all look a bit funny, and the 3 yr old was spent and refused to be in the picture. It captures our scenario nicely I think)Thank you to Holly, for inviting us to her cabin and taking us to some great places. Thanks to Meagan for coming with me on this crazy adventure, being our Yellowstone guide, and putting up with my wild three children/tag teaming with me! We tackled Yellowstone for a few days after our fishing day, and had some great times, but next time…we need to schedule some babysitters in the middle of the week! Cheers to finding fishy friends who are as crazy as I am!
Side Note: Don’t wait to head to the river until you have all the gear, or the perfect cast, or a belt to hold up your pants….Just go, you will be glad that you did! Great moments happen on the river, I always say. (embarrassing ones do too lol)