Sunday Words of Wisdom
Speaking with Dave McKee the other day and he said something interesting.
I did not catch the meaning of what he had said until mid way though the day.
Dave said “I love fishing the Missouri River at this level. It makes the river so much larger.”
Larger, I thought? He said larger right. But it is so much lower, less water volume, than normal. We have not fished this level since the mid 2000’s. It’s not larger, it’s smaller.
Then while my mind was wandering, navigating, meandering, the afternoon bobber float the true meaning came to me. As I was staring into the sun, somewhat flashing back to those killer May ’92 Dead Shows at CalExpo, the meaning was spoken to me in a dream scene.
Dave was speaking to me from the clouds, godlike, and whacking me on the head with an oar.
The river fishes larger because you can actively fish the entire thing. The countless mid-river subsurface structures become even more relevant in low water periods because you can access them in a manner you cannot in high or even normal water events.
The river is actually larger, bigger, grander, revealing, certainly more interesting, palpable, textural, even metaphysical.
And Dave is the Metaphysical Montana River Master. At least in my mind. I would gather to guess that I’m not the only one on to Dave’s surgical yet seamless guiding tactics. But there is only a few.
But you gotta tune your mental dial to a place you may not have known about. And the knowledge to find that mystical place on the metaphysical fishing dial follows a long road. To gain access to the connection you must have logged 10’s of thousands of river hours sitting in the middle of the boat. The view from there is different. Not necessarily better, but different. Watching anglers fish for 8-10 hours a day leads you to an understanding of river rhythms that are not accessible to all parties.
At least that is how I got there. Dave has 10 guiding years on my journey. He still rows the same boat he bought his first year guiding. I believe int he early 90’s. He’s gotta be a 30 year guy.
He’s pretty fucking wise, man.
You may never see him on the river. But those in tune, or getting closer, with McKee once in a while will think to themselves…Man, it feels like Dave has been here. But I’m not sure. I have’t seen him?
Aha! Dave was right again. Seems to be a pattern with that guy. When Dave speaks I generally listen.
As a wanna be Dave McKee disciple, I tip my hat to yet another river parable dropped to me by Dave. A river riddle. A passage designed to engage the critical fly fishing mind. How to think about fly fishing tactics to capitalize not he features available to the Missouri River angler.
I have not been as excited about fishing in a number of years. This year I am personally jacked up. I have enjoyed re-visiting the lower water era’s of the past 30 years since this author has been enamored and stricken by this particular river. To learn about the gravel migrations of the past 5 years of micro high water events and the ice flow movements of February and March 2019 has driven my excitement level even higher.
So a public thank you to Dave for again stimulating my often soft boiled mind into growth and continued deeper thought of this unreal Montana resource Mother Mo.
Ed Note: That is not Dave in the image above. I wanted to keep his identity hide for his family and mental privacy. It’s Ben Hardy spring time ’20. Ben has many, many, talents too.
Add’l Ed Note: I used to read Dave’s column in the Bozeman Chronicle weekly Outdoor section. That is going back few years ago.Loved it. He’s is a fantastic writer and human being. I respect him a ton. Dave is a long time fishing guide that fishes the Mo quite a bit. Love seeing him around. I truly enjoy our brief boat ramp conversations. And fishing guides in our age bracket gotta stick together. Beat up those young guys with wisdom.