I opened the back of my truck to pull out the fly rods and waders when I heard an eruption of giggles coming from the front cab. Being a photographer in the fly fishing industry doesn’t lend itself to being in the presence of women very often, let alone 4 of us on the river together. I immediately knew this is going to be one of my favorite trips of the summer.
I fell into a deep and serious love with fly fishing after moving to Southwestern Montana. Anglers travel from all over the world to throw their fly line into one of the many scenic rivers that exist here, most of which are less than half an hour from my porch. So when three of my good friends wanted to plan an all-girls fly fishing trip, it was a no-brainer about where we would start.
Our first stop was my favorite place on the Madison river, where sagebrush plains turn into the base of peaks and the river carves it’s way through the valley floor. The plan was to fish our way south until we reached the Tetons, only stopping for the necessary things like ice cream, beautiful water and jumping trout.
The first day fishing together was unlike any other day on the river I’ve had. When one of us had a fish on the line, you could hear the yells, high fives and giggles for miles. We threw casts until we could no longer see the fly rod in front of us and finally retreated back to the truck to make dinner. Too tired to cook, we settled on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by headlamp and beer for dessert.
The morning was casual, as we drifted around our campsite with all 4 pairs of waders drying over the forest service sign. After multiple cups of coffee, we packed up the truck to head south to Wyoming. The view of the Tetons strike me every time but getting to fish underneath the shadow of the Grand is something that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
We fished a little lake outlet where waterfalls cascaded through dead lumber and turned into swirling eddy’s below. In one of the pools, Heidi threw a her line into the middle while the rest of us watched a beautiful brown trout surface and swallow the fly whole. “Fish on!” she yelled, as Em came running through the water with a net. The brown trout must have been a good luck charm, because the rest of us all landed beautiful rainbows and cutthroats in the next ten minutes. The walk back through the National Park was quiet as the sky turned pink and purple with sunset and we hatched a plan of sleeping in a tipi on Heidi’s property that night.
We took our time in the morning, checking the map and conditions to see what might the most successful spot to hike into. Despite our careful planning with the fishing report, the weather had started to warm up and the fish weren’t biting, so we played limbo with the fly rods while setting up camp. Our tent site had a perfect overview of the entire Teton range which made up for the terrible mosquitoes that swarmed around the vestibule.
Our conversations went long into the night about our lives back home, the friendship that fishing with women allows, and how we wished we lived in the same place. That night, the moon set over the Tetons, silhouetting them against the cobalt night sky. It would have been a successful trip, even if we hadn’t had caught fish.