08 August 2008

The Art of Non-fishing on the Big Hole River near Butte Montana

Do you remember Carlos Castaneda? I keep a copy of his classic little The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (1968) in my backpack, and read a few pages before my post-peak bagging naps and bedtime. Very inspirational, I think the book even guided a few of us through those drug-crazed late-60s/early 70s. Castaneda gave us hope that some deep spiritual insights lay beyond the surface glimmer of the drug experience per se.

Yesterday was an experience in the art of non-doing, a common Taoist meditative technique that snuck into old Don Juan's teachings.

The morning dawned red as seen from my front porch in Walkerville, and this sailor took no warning:

Sheila Youngblood, Jo Buysse, and I set out late yesterday afternoon for a few hours of fly fishing on the Big Hole River. We hoped to catch some good Spruce Moth fishing. All day long, as I sat in my office, the moths flitted in through the open windows:

In the photo above, you can see two very different color phases of Butte's Spruce Moths (sex or age related?). And as I speculated in the previous Spruce Moth fishing post, there are clear differences among populations that probably mark distinct species. The Big Hole moths (below) are quite different morphologically than the longer, more pointed wings, and slightly larger Butte critters:

Now some would write this off to Butte's toxic mine waste (don't move here! the fishing & hunting stink too!) or the fact that, at a bar, Butte moths probably out-drink and out-fight any Big Hole moth. However, I rather suspect the difference stems from Eastslope (Big Hole River) v. Westslope (Butte/Clark Fork River) of the Continental Divide.

Anyway, I digress. There Sheila, Jo, and I were at the secret spot across from Butch Starin's trailer. Looks promising, I thought, and rigged up. Moments later lightning crashed on the ridge south of us, the wind cast a dark sky upon us, and the rain began. Pouring, steady rain. More lightning. Boats began pulling off the water, and the Big Hole being the Big Hole it was two rafts full of Frank Stanchfield, his son Lance Stanchfield, and friends from the Troutfitters near Wise River. Sheila kindly gave two drivers a ride down to Silver Bridge to facilitate their shuttle. We called Jan Munday and daughter Emily Munday (Em had just gotten off a flight from Boston), and did what anglers do when they're rained off the river: went to a bar (Blue Moon Saloon) for a few pints of Moose Drool (alas, no Butte beer from the Quarry!):

After a few pints and a good meal, the Art of Non-doing felt pretty good. And as we pulled away for the short drive home, a rainbow as a promise for a new day:

An Ri Ra, Butte's big Irish music/culture festival, begins today. Reminds me of that great line from the Prodigals song, Happy Man:

"I'm a happy man today, I don't know about tomorrow,
Will I live in ecstasy or deep in debt and sorrow,
There's a pint upon the table, there's another on the way
and with the girl beside me, I'm a happy man today..."


Cf. Spruce Moth fishing on the Big Hole River last year, 03 August 2007: http://ecorover.blogspot.com/2007/08/early-august-fishing-raspberries-hiking.html

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