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A few weeks ago I accompanied some Ski Patrol friends on a week fly fishing float trip down the infamous Smith River in Central Montana and managed to photograph a little bit along the way. The last time I floated it was over ten years ago when I was fresh out of college. Now a little more seasoned, I returned to make images that would speak to the beauty of the place. The river is managed by Montana State Parks by a special permit to float, the resulting experience is profound. We floated through tall limestone walled canyons that yielded incredible wildlife watching, great fishing and an ecosystem chocked full of aquatic insects making for prime trout habitat. Here are a few snapshots from our week exploring the river. What an incredible place right here in our Montana backyard. It’s an asset that is under threat. A proposed large copper mine directly adjacent to and underneath Sheep Creek at the headwaters of the Smith River in central Montana is under debate right now that would drastically impact this river system. This is a resource too precious to destroy. Help to fight for it. Check out more information about the proposed mine on Save Our Smith website. I can’t wait to float it again next year. Thanks for looking. Cheers, -M

I’ve been in Montana for a little over a year now after moving here from California. While the normal routine in the past was for me was to always bring a camera out on my fly fishing missions, for 2012, I decided to take a break. I’ve stayed pretty busy at the newspaper throughout the year and my weekends became my place to get out and step away from it all. I wanted to be totally present and just study my new Montana surroundings. Also, I was too busy having fun fishing myself to set my rod down and make images. This past weekend I got after it, fishing two days in a row – one on the Madison River with my buddies Jimmy and Camille and the second floating the Yellowstone River with my buddies Sky and Ryan. The decision was made to bring along my camera. While I primarily fished throughout the weekend, I did manage to snap a couple pictures and even got the big brown trout I caught documented on camera (thanks Ryan for taking the picture). Look for more fly fishing photos throughout the year. The fly fishing photography hiatus is over. I’m ready to start documenting the Montana rivers again. Here we go. -M



Photo of me by Matt Payne





I’m almost embarrassed to admit it but I haven’t been fly fishing since last November. It has been a constant annoyance for me not being able get out and fish. It’s funny how quickly prior commitments build up and begin to consume so much of your time. I was in dire need of getting out onto a river system. Enter Montana fishing guide Matt Payne. This past weekend I had the opportunity to go fish with Matt and his buddy Matt Swan, a guide for The Fly Shop, on the Lower Sacramento River up in my old stomping grounds of Redding, California. Payne has recently moved to the Sacramento area with his wife Janelle and has been actively scouting out northern California rivers for his guiding business. He’s a great guy and a damn fine fisherman. We made a day of hooking into rainbow trout, drinking Coors, and talking all things fish. You couldn’t ask for a better day. This trip was a real treat for me because for the majority of the time, I had a fly rod in my hand and not a camera. Sometimes it’s nice to change it up. Still, shooting pictures is hard to resist. I made a few frames of the Matt’s rowing and nympthing near the Sundial bridge that I was pleased with considering it was high noon sun beating down on us.

Later on I met up with an old fishing buddy of mine Justin Miller, of The Fly Shop, and we cooked up some Argentina style steaks and as a happy experiment, we grilled poblano chili peppers stuffed with feta cheese and wrapped in bacon. I’ll be thinking about that meal all week. Justin is probably one of the most talented fly tyers I know. He was all stoked about his upcoming stripper fishing trip and with that, he decided to design a new fly for the occasion. I have yet to meet someone who gets so pumped about fishing like Justin does. The guy thinks like a fish. Like a true perfectionist, he left nothing to chance and decide to test out his new pattern in his bath tub and if need be would make design adjustments. It was so nice to be in the company of trout bums again. It was an overall killer weekend. Already looking forward to the next outing. -M