I sit quietly on a bank with no Agenda nor to do list

Monday. Missouri River. May.

Monday. Missouri River. May.

Great words from John G in the comments yesterday. Long time Mo River angler fishing along with friends and family this past week on the river. Was not able to hook up with the fellas, but did enjoy John’s words from his recent river experiences.

I sit quietly on a bank with no agenda nor to do list.

Perfect words. Combine them with the thought of rising trout. The possible glimpse. Yes, that was a fish. Oh, now I see you. You are brown in color and feisty in flavor.

And, then you wait. And watch.

No rush. The fish is feeding.

The angler that rushes in, that does not value the experience, the entire experience, may miss the greater meaning of the moment.

Waiting. Watching. Becoming emotionally closer to the cast, the fish, the moment. Enveloping your entire being.

Enjoying the communion of the Missouri River. The communion of the moment.


Inspired this spring by many components. The dry fly fishing has been sick! The fish are cooperating, most of the time. The emerging insects. The fellowship of anglers. The conversations of great dry fly years gone buy, the fantasy of good hatches in front of us. Words by friends. The smiles of memories of sun setting leaving the waters shaded, darker, grey. Rise forms. Trout that could not be fooled. The anticipation of another chance, another cast, hopeful days ahead.

All have got me all jazzed up. Filled with emotion and excitement. Equal parts of each.

We are so fortunate to be here on the banks of the Mo. All of us. I am grateful for this fishing life. So, very, thankful.

And we arrive to this Monday, in May, on the Missouri River.

Spoke with a couple cats who have been dry fly fishing here since the late 80’s on Sunday. Spoke about Pat Elam, Chris and Jerry of the Trout Shop. Pat was the 1st. Chris came next. Jerry as the 3rd. Pat died. Chris and Jerry continued. Spoke about Larry Tarmelli and his fishing pal Sandy. Big Al Raines. Johnny Glass. A couple other Tri-Staters. Ron Soden and Alan Roberts. Stan Stavich. The Barranco family. Tom B. visits often. Mark LeGrande and Tom Bramble. More wonderful anglers I cannot remember, unfortunately. Lizzy and Jim Range. Some of those guys still around. Others have passed. The memories of those who have cast before us still make an impact on me. Honor those humans/individuals, remember them. Smile.

Spent time yesterday in the casting lane @ HH of Craig with a test line. Cast with a couple staff at the shop. A few visitors from Calgary/Bow River guys. Bamboo rod makers. Spoke about proper line match and the joy it brings when the match, is perfect. Reminisced about the RIO Windcutter fly line. Double Tapers. Mucilin. Cast some more. Cast with Peter, a guide, a student of the game. I enjoy talking about fly lines. How they work. What rods they fit well on/with. The perfect match. Fly lines can change the personality of any given rod. That is fun. That is what makes this game so very entertaining.

A perfect match for everyone and anyone. And, 3 anglers, can enjoy 3 very different fly lines, on the same rod. That is fun. That is fly fishing. That is what makes the experience individual. The joys derived from varied avenues in this many faced multi-faceted pastime.

Watched relatively new anglers line up rods, don waders, and head to the water. Not knowing what will happen, moving toward an unveiling of wonder, untied by the fascination of nature, the river, moving water.

Been thinking a lot about line design, how lines interface with rods, and how anglers combine the two to create magic. Occasionally  manifesting in brilliance.

Seeking to repeat that feeling as the body and mind unite while the line unrolls in front of me.

The rod will only do what you tell it to do. I continually keep that thought in the front of my head. The human on the cork end controls the outcome. Confidence and control come only come from comfort of the rod in hand. 1000’s, or 10’s of 1000’s of hours with the rod in hand.

So, the practice rod in the garage in the winter(s)…truly matters.

Meandering of SOL’s brain today on the HH blog. The rest of the day includes admin work. A bit of casting. Need to finish the ’89 Williams Whirlwind pinball full resto and playfield swap so I can put my boat in the garage. The organization of rods, the re-lining of fly reels with new fly lines, the dream of rising trout, the slow creaking of the boat as she settles on anchor, the glance downstream witnessing concentric rings emanating from trout sipping near the waters surface…


Happy Monday. If you feel the pressure of that world out there, remember to take a moment for yourself. A reset of sorts. Sit calmly in your chair. Close your eyes. Let the imaginary sun warm your face. Let your ears hear trout lips kissing the surface. Let the concentric rise forms pass through you cleansing your being.

Monday. Missouri River. May.

Fly Lines, Mondays, Raisler letting his brain wander, Sipping trout
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  • Good thoughts for today and each day we approach the water.

  • Nice thoughts Mark. Keep em coming!

  • Wow!! Excellent read, SOL. ‘ppreciate ya.

  • Marty Thomas
    May 7, 2024 11:49 am


  • Matthew Perry
    May 7, 2024 7:43 pm

    Thanks Mark for the blog, just got back home to Calgary – awesome fishery you have with spectacular dry fly – see you next year.

  • I am the bamboo rod maker you were talking to.
    Thanks for the visit and the dry fly tips you gave us.
    We will be back!!

  • Nothing better than practice casting on the magic “green” carpet at HH. Getting tuned up for the day. See you in June!

  • allan roberts
    May 8, 2024 11:33 am

    I had always been a Madison River fisherman since 1980…but I was always hearing rumors about the Missouri River.

    One day I was in West Yellowstone at Bud Lilly’s fly shop and I asked the clerk if he knew anything about the Missouri and he responded….. wide eyed….”a 15 inch fish will take you into your backing”

    I was on the road the next day.

    I first laid eyes on the Missouri from the high bluff on route 15 and it was a sight to behold.

    The Missouri River is like no other river that I am aware of.

    I can wade for ever mostly in solitude looking for that raindrop rise that is sometimes an inch from the bank…a rise so subtle…I have to ask myself were my eyes playing tricks on me ….so I stop and I wait

    I have never seen a trico hatch that looked like smoke from a campfire and pods of rising trout as a result.

    A # 16 Griffiths Knat worked wonders and often it would result in a strike on the first cast.

    When I got divorced in 1990 I spent 3 months on the river to heal myself…..it worked.

    As a Delaware River fisherman I had never really caught an honest 20 inch rainbow ….19+

    On one of my first days fishing I landed a real 20 inch bow on a caddis and you could hear my screams of joy all the way down to Wolf Creek.

    Craig was …a sleepy town…… in those days.

    Jerry ….Chris…and…. Pat Elam…who always used to say that you can’t sell fishing equipment at a destination end fly shop……duh?

    Lets not forget Steve…perennially stoned… Butt and his Parrot Head Fly Shop.

    Pat Elam who was always pretty hammered and after guiding could be found in Joe’s Bar often with his curvaceous California girl friend Carol.

    Pat died young from all the drugs and booze.

    I remember the first time Jerry saw Karen….who he then dated and then married

    We were sitting on the picnic table across the street when she was going into Pat and Nancy’s grocery store and he said…”Wow ..check her out.”

    Do any of you remeber Jimmy Slegua who drove around in his old truck blasting his music?

    He only fished a #16 short shank elk hair caddis and he caught as many fish as anyone.

    I had always fished a 4 weight 9 foot Scott fly rod when one day Pat said .try this one out.

    It was a 2 weight 9 foot Fisher Kennedy fly rod.

    For the first hour or two I was quite frustrated as the FK did not respond well to the Scott casting stroke.

    I finally slowed my cast down and I was hooked

    It was like painting with a wand and the U bent fighting a fish could be felt all the way down to the cork handle.

    Pat tied me 2 Fisher Kennedy fly rods that I still fish to this day.

    In those days Mark worked for Jerry and Chris doing everything including flipping burgers.

    When he decided to venture out on his own and he & John daringly opened Headhunters and his remarkable success story is quite frankly typical of the American Dream that anything is possible….WOW!

    My two sons Craig and Eric came out to visit me in 1993 and despite being rookies they were able to get a drag free drift as they mastered the reach cast

    The water was low that year…3,000 cfs …and they both landed great fish on a #16 elk hair caddis

    Craig a 20 inch rainbow and Eric a 22 inch brown.

    After dark we would go up to the …”Bull Pit” ….where we would strip #14 caddis flies across the water catching so many fish and the strikes were savage.

    That year we also saw some amazing northern lights such as a reddish circle overhead rotating like a merry go round.

    I used to fish all night with whooly buggers in front of Prickly Pear for the trout pre spawners

    With a 10 lb Maxima tippet I could land them fairly quickly

    Sometime the night fishing was so spectacular with a strike or a huge fish every third or fourth cast

    Some of the strikes were like being freight trained and some were so subtle as they barely mouthed it as I slowly figure eighted it in.

    One night I hooked a fish so big that I could …..NOT BUDGE IT

    After several minutes the hook pulled out and on my WB was a tuft of fur and I realized that I had hooked a beaver

    My biggest brown was 28 inches and that morning driving down Recreation Road back to room numbr one at the Trout Shop listening to George Harrison’s Here Come the Sun is a moment that I will never forget.

    I used to see many of the same faces every year in Craig

    Fishing icons like Stu Apte whose car license plate reads … Stu Who… or Joan Wulff or just no bodys like myself who walks on common ground with his fellow anglers

    The get togethers on my porch of room number one were so much fun.

    After a day of fishing and having absolutly the best drink of the day… an ice cold Coors Light….swapping stories… and eating the legendary Murazzi’s Sopressatta that I brought from Scranton

    How about those delicious mushroom burgers at the restaurant at Holter Dam or the Polish Sausages at Pat and Nancys grocery store……and the best PIG ROAST ever at Frenchys in Wolf Creek.

    There are really no words that adequately describe what the gift of the …MISSOURI RIVER …means to us all.

    As OBI-Wan said in Star Wars about the force …it surrounds us…it binds us together…and in a way so does the MISSOURI RIVER

    or I would add that it magically transforms an 8 hour day into what seems like just a 10 minute day.

  • What a great post! Just lived vicariously through this envisioning the mighty Missouri – Hands down my favorite tailwater for sure. Hoping this writer can still fish this incredible river and make even more memories!

  • Mark LeGrand
    May 9, 2024 4:56 pm

    Fond Memories!

  • cliff nagatani
    May 10, 2024 11:27 am

    Wow, a great post! I too was there in ’89 or ’90 with all shenanigans like Pat and Jimmy launching spuds across the waters!!! Didnt Jimmy live in the yellow submarine? I went to high skool with his older brothers in the late ’60s. LT with his giant seal dris and Jerrys pigtail! Thanks for the memories Mr Roberts, Im sure i met you! See all of you late July, Maui sez Aloha!!!

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