Personal Journeys


November 09, 2003|By Special to the Sun

A Memorable Place

A river flowing with trout, memories

By Mary Saner


I couldn't wait to get back to the Madison -- a beautiful river that flows north through Montana and is home to big trout. Fishing the Madison is fun from land or water, but I love to float the river and fly-fish from the boat's bow.

Last summer, I arranged to meet river guide Drew Mentzer in West Yellowstone, the town at the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Drew, 25, is a great fisherman. He suggested we float 12 miles of river -- a trip that would take about seven hours. That seemed a little long, so we settled on an eight-mile excursion.

Bouncing around in Drew's pickup truck on our way to the river, we talked about flies and where the fish were rising. He said the salmon fly was our best bet, and that we'd probably find the most fish alongside the banks.

Drew put the boat in at Lyons Bridge, about 30 miles northwest of West Yellowstone. It took just one cast into the clear, rushing water for me to remember how much I loved the river.

I snapped Drew's graphite rod back behind my head, waited a second for the line to straighten out, then shot the fly forward to within a few inches of the riverbank. The salmon fly sat up in the water, drifting in the current like it had just dropped off an overhanging bush. Then the fly vanished. I had a rise.

Jerking the rod upward, I hooked the fish and started reeling. In my sights was a brown trout about 12 inches long. The fish fought hard before we netted it. This stretch of the Madison is catch and release, so we took just a couple of seconds to admire the fish's beautiful coloring before Drew gently slipped it back into the water.

Though my eyes were fixed on the river most of the day, I occasionally looked up at the scene around us -- the mountains rising thousands of feet from the valley and the green riverbanks lush with willows and tall grass. What a contrast with the wetlands of Maryland's Eastern Shore.

It's hard to describe the excitement of fishing -- the thrill of seeing a fish swim after your fly, then deciding to eat it; the strike, the splash, the fight, the netting. I lost a lot of fish during the trip, but the highlight was the big fish that didn't get away, a 17-inch, 2 1/2 -pound rainbow trout that fought gallantly. He had his picture taken before returning home to the river.

I returned home to Maryland soon after, but will never forget this outing. Some nights I dream I'm still floating on the water.

Mary Saner lives in Chestertown.

My Best Shot

Cathy Sabol, Baltimore

Rugged climate, generous hands

The Tibetan elder, his face like a dried apple, sat lotus-legged on his mat, sculpting his zamba, a religious offering made of barley meal. We were humble visitors to his home outside Lhasa. In contrast to the harshness of Tibet's elements and terrain, its people are gentle and generous, offering visitors yak butter tea and a spin of their prayer wheels.

Readers Recommend

Colorado River

Mike Lowenstein, Baltimore

In eastern Utah, not far from the town of Moab, there is a place called Dead Horse Point, known by this name since a band of wild mustangs died there. The views there rival those of the Grand Canyon. The point provides a striking panorama of the pinnacles, buttes and sandstone cliffs of the Colorado River's 2,000-foot canyons.

The Caucasus, Georgia

Mitch Sanders,


During the morning of our last day of hiking in the Caucasus, there was a beautiful sunrise as the night's cool fog lifted. The reflection of the mountains in the water was beautiful. After breakfast, we had a morning swim.

Let Us Hear From You

We want to know about your travels, your experiences, your pictures. Here's how to participate in this page:

* My Best Shot -- Send us a terrific travel photo with a description of when and where you took it. (Cash value: $50.)

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* Readers Recommend -- Briefly tell us about places you've recently visited that you'd recommend to other readers. (50 words or less; photos are welcome.)

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