Slingin' in the Rain

Fishing through the storm. 

As our Jeep bounces down the winding dirt road, I peer at the massive thunderheads rolling in above us. The sky is dark and the air thick as pudding.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” I yell over the wind to my fishing partner, Quinn. “This one might get nasty.”

“Fish don’t mind rain,” he yells back, a steely look in his eyes. “They’re already wet.”

So we park the Jeep, squeeze into our neoprene and Gore-Tex, and set off into the storm. Quinn charges forward, silent and swift. We come across a couple of fishermen who give a hasty wave as they dash for their car. Wind-driven rain pelts us as I follow my intrepid—or rather, obsessed—friend toward the riverbank. The Gallatin is already rising by the time we get there.

“All right, little fishies, here we come,” Quinn says, and chucks his line into the water. I follow suit, and together we work our way upriver, our bodies hunched against the wind and driving rain. A few minutes later, Quinn’s dripping frame arches into hook-set posture, and out in front of him a silvery shape breaks the surface. It’s a beautiful rainbow, long and thick-bodied. “Prince nymph!” Quinn calls to me. “Size 16!” I forget about the lightning, my cold fingers, the rainwater running down the back of my neck, and tie on a size 16 Prince nymph. Sure enough, on my first cast I pluck out a fat little rainbow. Quinn already has another one on. I let mine go, and on the very next cast hook into another. He fights hard, and after a few minutes I get a hand on him. He goes a solid 16 inches.

I look around. The river is empty, save us and the fish, and it’s beautiful beneath this summer deluge. A thin shaft of sunlight angles in from the now-clearing western sky. The storm might just pass over. “This is freakin’ great!” I scream at Quinn, wiping rain off my face and slinging my line back into the current.

He turns around slowly and cocks his head. “Are you sure you don’t want to leave?” he says with a grin. “This storm might get nasty, you know.”