Tag Archives: Montana

Fishing Follows Me

Today you are hearing from Anna Harris, project leader at Maine Ecological Services Field Office

I grew up alongside the Connecticut River in New Hampshire, but it wasn’t until I spent a summer in Montana that I truly become a fisherwoman.

My shift at the dude ranch in Big Sky ended by 3pm, so every afternoon I was off exploring the range. The Lodge was Orvis Endorsed, meaning there were some of the best guides in the world spending their summers guiding clients in boats and on the banks of the Yellowstone, Madison and Gallatin. World class trout streams surrounded me. Since it takes years to become one of the top guides for Orvis, many junior guides were willing to take anyone out on the water, even willing to teach me how to fly fish.

My ethic became catch and release. My rod became a 9 foot 5 weight. My attire now included boots, waders, a vest and net. I brought my new fishing accessories back east as I returned to West Virginia to start my senior year at University.

West Virginia has incredible waters. The Bluestone River in south central WV, the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac, and Seneca creek were some of my favorite waters to explore.

Moving to Virginia meant finding new water. I started to fall in love with fishing for native brook trout. Small streams in the Shenandoah National Park became my passion. I’d spend weekends fishing Jeremy’s, Cedars and Big Run and camping in the park.

Moving closer to Washington D.C. meant finding new water and new fishing gear. Luckily D.C. has many organizations active in recruiting anglers to the area. Between Trout Unlimited and the Tidal Potomac River Fly Rodders, many fishermen and woman were willing to share their fishing spots with a new-to-the-area angler. I increased my rod to an 8 weight and changed the tackle to include Clouser Minnows and the “SpongeBob square pants” fly in order to catch small mouth bass and shad around the Capital.

I met my husband through fly fishing and together we explored trout streams in Maryland including our favorite limestone stream, Beaver Creek.  We began to travel around the east coast together, learning new forms of fishing and finding new waters to wade in.

Together we moved west in 2014. Oregon is an anglers paradise. We had the opportunity to fish for steelhead, salmon and cutthroat trout. Unlike many of the states I’d fished in back east, we could fish any time of year, for many fish species. The waters of Oregon, with the diversity of fish species and river access, make it one of the most incredible places I’ve ever lived for fishing.

Now we are back east, closer to home, in Mid-Coast Maine. The bugs have been unbearable but the brook trout fishing has been phenomenal. Meeting and sharing stories with anglers along the St. George River has reinforced my sense of connection to the river and the state.

As I’ve moved around the country, I realize that no matter where I’m headed or where I’ve came from, there is always a place to fish. I continue to find my solace on the water, a connection to the community, and a fondness for casting a line into the water waiting for a tight tug, a hard hit or the rise of a fish after my fly.

Into the wilderness we go!

In 2014, our nation will celebrate 50 years of the Wilderness Act. Wilderness areas are untrammeled, undeveloped, and natural, offering outstanding opportunities for solitude or primitive recreation. Lamar Gore, an assistant refuge supervisor, explains his experience at the Scapegoat Wilderness.

2013 Interagency National Wilderness Leadership Training - R5 Contingent & NWRS Chief

Some of our employees recently attended a wilderness training in Montana. Hear from Lamar Gore (far left) about what he took from the experience.

scapegoat sign

As a kid, I spent my formative years exploring “my wilderness” at Shady Brook Park and White City Lake (now John A. Roebling Park) in Trenton, NJ. That invited a level of teasing, because I played in the woods and swamps, but fear bore few chains on me as a child. With a quick outburst of laughter and a smile of encouragement from mom or dad, I would be off to the woods and ready to play.

Just a few weeks ago, I descended on Missoula, Montana with 49 other conservationists as part of training to begin an immersion experience in the Scapegoat Wilderness. Wilderness lands are wild lands that have not been modified by human activity, like maintained roads or the use of motorized equipment.

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The valley we took our journey through.

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My bud, Remmington, for the duration of our journey.

So without those machines that are not allowed in wilderness lands, how did we get out there? My companion was Remmington, an amazingly sturdy, gentle, and stunning friend of mine. By the end of the trip, we had quite the connection.

As we sat around the camp on our first night, the flute like song of the Swainson’s thrush rang out on the hillside.  This was a common sound around camp and on hikes

On our second day in, I felt the call…when you feel it calling, you must simply go, and go I did. I crossed the river into a floodplain meadow, where willow flycatchers were playing their song. Past the willows and up the mountainside I climbed, and below me, the moving figures of my classmates were tiny stick figures, some fishing, others cooling in the river or resting.  The sound of the river faded to be replaced by the sound of birds at a higher elevation and the knocking of woodpeckers. Once on the ridgeline, I could see the valley we journeyed through to approach camp and it was breathtaking. The river wound from side to side, and the mountainsides appeared to collide into each other.

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Just one of the amazing views in the Scapegoat Wilderness.

On our final night in the Scapegoat, the song of a boreal owl took me to sleep. He can play that song until the end of time and beyond. That alone was enough to walk out of the Scapegoat with. As Remmington was taking me on the last few steps of our journey, my mind wandered back to our last night in the Wilderness. Those thoughts, made the closing unwelcome and rushed. Just imagine if I had let the fear of the unknown stop me as a youngin.’

Read Lamar’s full story>>