I've been fishing here in the Treasure State a few times before, and though I've yet to catch anything, I've enjoyed it. So I bought a rod, reel, and some tackle last week, and planned on spending my day off Monday casting about. A big part of the appeal of fishing, for me, is the logistics, particularly poring over maps (something I've done since I was in first grade).
I arrived at Lake Alva campground in the early evening Sunday, intending to get up early Monday and try out some points on the far (West) side of the lake. I managed to get a nice fire going, and enjoyed it--and some beer--until way too late that night.
But since it was only 19ºF in Ludwig (according to the little keychain thermometer we have anyway), I woke up shivering pretty early. My plan was to walk around the Northern end of the lake, ford the creek, and walk around to some spots I'd picked out on a map. The creek was still too wide to cross, so instead I drove around the South end and up the West side of the lake, where I could just hoof it to shore.
I parked Ludwig here and walked to the lake. You'd think all these years of looking at maps might have imparted upon me at least some practical understanding of scale, but apparently you'd be wrong. What looked à la carte like an easy, short stroll through the woods was in fact an undulating rough stomp through unmarked thick forest from which I started to worry that I wouldn't return. Slippery logs and rocks made me realize what a pickle I'd (not to mention my wife and yet-to-be-born daughter'd) be in if I slipped and sprained my ankle. At the lake I cast in but managed to lose a couple lures to snags. The walk back to the road was a lot shorter than I figured, thankfully. Note to self: no matter how "short" the hike, the compass stays in your pocket, dummy.
The main road (MT Hwy 83) runs along a string of lakes, and I decided to slowly work my way back to Missoula by stopping at a few to cast in. I lost more lures at Lake Seeley and Salmon Lake. The picture above is from Salmon Lake, where I just used pullouts to get to the shore. The hike was just a few yards this time. No bites.
As a reminder that hunting season is in full effect, at Harper's Lake FAS I nearly drove over this pleasant pile of deer entrails. The optimist in me (he's a really small, quiet, dumb guy) supposed they accidentally fell out of someone's truck. The cynic in me knew damn well that someone just dumped them there. Gross. The lake itself was my last try at angling as I only had two of my original six lures left. Plus, the weather was looking to get nasty.
This sign at Clearwater Junction always makes me wax nostolgic for good old Lincoln Nebraska. The out-of-focus thingie in the foreground is our only concession to hippyism in or on Ludwig. It's a pendant that supposedly brings us good travels, and was given to us long ago by a couple "hippies" at a VW show in Gretna (Nebraska), where we'd driven and entered 02McDonald's 1961 Double-door. (Here's a picture of that, taken by someone else, from the Omaha VW Club's website.)
While the fishing was a total washout, I'll not give up. The drive back did indeed prove to be pretty nasty and I severely chided myself (again) for having not yet fixed Ludwig's non-operational windshield wipers.
As I was walking across the pedestrian bridge from (the UM) campus to the strip mall on East Front the other day, I spotted Ludwig's doppelgänger. My first thought, from a distance, was "Why did Melissa drive the camper here today?" A second glance revealed that this wasn't our Ludwig; the ski racks (or whatever those things are) and the ancillary bumper-mounted antenna are dead giveaways. I got up close to read the VIN, and while this camper and Ludwig are both 1974s, this one is a little newer. They have the exact same five Hankook RA08s though.
I left a note that included the address of this blog. If the owner happens to read this, please drop us a line.