Mike revisits the events that brought him to the Mo
Mike O from Headhunters today tells us the story of how he arrived on the Missouri River and the extenuating circumstances leading to his lifelong passion for Mother Mo.
Do you remember where you were on 9/11? You do if you were alive and older than six at the time. And you probably will remember where you were on 4/1/20. Both crazy times which change the world, but life for most did and will go on… and if you wait it out, the fish will rise.
My name is Mike Owen, Headhunters newest full time employee, yet oldest in years. Neither new to the Missouri River or the fly fishing industry, I live locally and look at the Mo all day and all year long, as I can see almost a mile of it from my home. I have fished Montana since the early 80’s, but didn’t stumble upon the best until just after a small bunch of extremists diverted 4 jets into high profile buildings on September 11, 2001.
”Screw you original plans…..meet me on the Missouri River at the Mid Canon campground.
You’ll never regret it”
My 2001 trip was supposed to start on 9/13/01, leaving Philly for Bozeman to fish Yellowstone Park, the Madison, Henry’s Fork, etc. I had just resigned a good job to start a really good job in CA and had cleverly planned a vacation during my swan song.
It was pretty well over 4 hours into that day, 9/11, that the facts began to come clear about what just happened…and my fishing trip took a back seat. Unfortunately, this current tragic event folds out much more slowly. Yet, when the phone rang in 2001 on 9/14, the nice person calling me from the airline said I could fly to MT the next morning. We would be the first flight leaving Philly since the shut down.
No brainer….me and buddy Mark would be on it. I had already talked to my outfitter out of Bozeman as I couldn’t make my guide trips, but a quick call to him with this update changed my LIFE. He said, ”Screw you original plans…..meet me on the Missouri River at the Mid Canon campground and you’ll never regret it”. Well, I guess he was right.
We figured we would fish there a few days, then head south. He hooked us up with local legend Neal Streaks for our first full day on the MO. The dry fly fishing was amazing. We threw at pods of 50 plus and singles all day long. There were not many anglers around, partially because it was 2001 in general and partially because it was right after 9/11. I imagine it will be similar in the coming months.
Anyway, we decided to just stay the entire two weeks. We explored up and down the river….finding places which were inviting to wading. I was pretty much DFO then, so we were always looking for fish which were looking up and found them aplenty.
As I tried to nap on the flights home, I couldn’t dispel the notion that I would live in the place I had just found someday. Flash forward. I currently live within a mile of Mid Canon.
I sit at home with my wife today as we are trying to strictly adhere to the stay at home order. I haven’t heard a better plan from informed leadership yet….so I have embraced it fully…and you should, too. The shop is closed and the traffic is light.
It is cold and the ground is white but it supposed to be nearly 60 next week. As long as the wind isn’t crazy…..I will fish sometime soon. The further we get into spring, the fishing will only get better….and I will fish more, working or not. But I am sure that it will only get better. I am not only referring to the fishing. We will be OK folks. Better times are ahead. The fish will rise again.
Ed Note: Thanks Mike for giving us a bit of hope today. Love the story of how you got here. Similar to many other Mo River full-timers in that it only took one trip to alter your life path. Stay at Home. Fish by yourself. Keep on keepin’ on. And to quote you Mike, The fish will rise again.