A rundown of Bozeman-area anglers.
In my 15 years as a fly angler, I’ve run across a number of interesting characters. Some interesting in the “wow, I could listen to this guy for hours” sense and some in the “wow, this guy is insane… I could listen to him for hours” sense. Now, I consider myself a normal angler, and not one of these river-dwelling oddballs. Even though I’m from just across the divide, the fishing culture here is quite a bit different than my home waters. While I come from a region dominated by the Naturalist species of angler, the Fish Bro rules Bozeman. Other species of fishermen exist, as well; allow me to delineate.
The Fish Bro
This is basically the angler equivalent of the high-school jock. And, like the jock, he (or she) tends to get the most action… with fish, that is. Sporting a flat-brimmed Simms cap and a stylish buff, the Fish Bro is constantly out on the water, slinging streamers in search of the “big hogs.” Less concerned with the invasive-species issue, Fish Bros are big fans of browns and rainbows, large-arbor reels, and cheap beer. However, the Fish Bro also tends to be the chillest dude on the river and is always prepared with a good story about his last fishing trip.
Strengths: Most likely to be fishing with a date
Weaknesses: Probably has a hangover
Tell-Tale Items: Flat bill, driftboat, Nautilus reel
Local Hangout: Main stem of the Yellowstone
These anglers are out on the water to catch a few fish, see a few birds, turn over some rocks, and “Oh hey! There’s a toad!” More concerned with getting outside and experiencing nature, this type is the one most likely to pack along a fishing log. When actually fishing and not examining a caddisfly case, the Naturalist is most likely to seek native species even if they are much smaller than the trophy browns pursued by the Fish Bro.
Strengths: Member of Trout Unlimited
Weaknesses: Catch fewer fish because they can’t seem to focus
Tell-Tale Items: Write-in-the-rain journal
Local Hangout: Hyalite Creek
These guys are outfitted with the shiniest new equipment from all the most expensive retailers, and are definitely compensating. They may have the most cash of all angler types but they also have the least amount of time to actually learn to fish—hence the Sage flapping through the air in a 180-degree arc. Probably born out East, Gearheads try hard to seem like they know what they’re doing. They’ve read all the books and magazines, know the patterns inside and out, and can be found fishing along the same bend for several hours. Maybe that thousand-dollar rod should be exchanged for a 50-dollar casting lesson.
Strengths: Has money to hire guides
Weaknesses: On smartphone all day doing business
Tell-Tale Items: Sage or Winston rod, Hardy reel, and latest hi-tech chest pack
Local Hangout: Upper Madison
Doing his best impression of Brad Pitt from A River Runs Through It, this guy is a treat to see on the water and a nightmare to talk to in person. Spending most of his time false-casting, even the Fedora’s over-dressed fly sounds pretentious hitting the water. While of course practicing catch-and-release, he still manages to find a reason to carry around a wicker creel and old-school fillet knife. Fortunately, his appearances on the river are quite rare due to other obligations, such as gallery openings, wine tastings, and the regular eating of fine cheeses.
Strengths: Nice hat
Weaknesses: Mid-century fashion
Tell-Tale Items: Nice hat
Local Hangout: Plonk