On a Fishin' Mission

My name is Steven Spigelmyer, I'm 20 years old, from Las Vegas. And I'm spending the summer as a trout bum in and around Yellows

  • By: Steven Spigelmyer
Steven and his friend Dan and a large fish bum trout

My name is Steven Spigelmyer and I am from Las Vegas, Nevada. Im 20 years old so everyone I know loves Vegas because of the bright lights, the gambling, the clubs and the conveniences of living in a hustling town. Unfortunately, that life never pertained to me: a life where hot showers are taken for granted, where all water is bottled and the only fishing to do is for girls. Last summer I left the city for West Yellowstone, Montana, where I lived throughout the summer and worked at Bud Lillys Trout Shop. Little did I know that this was the worst job for a fly-fishing addict: To sit in a shop and only talk about all the fish you should be catching is like telling a child he can only look at his toys; its miserable. So I started thinking if there was any way I could be a true trout bum, because a true trout bum doesnt need to work to fish'”fishing is his work. A true trout bum doesnt worry about where hes staying at night'”only the river hes on during the day. And thats the life this kid from Las Vegas dreamed of, and thanks to Fly Rod& Reel has got because this summer my fishing encounters will be shared right here. Everyday on the river, hopefully 100 days in all, will be filmed, photographed and scribed to show the journeys of this trout bum.

Of course, Ill have fishing updates for most of the major rivers and lakes in the area; but just like fishing isnt only about catching fish, neither will my posts solely focus on what flies to use or what water you should be fishing. Rather my goal is to try and show what makes fishing so amazing: its about the people you meet, the stories you hear, and just taking in all of the beauty around. And this has never been truer then my first few days up here.

I drove 12 hours to fish and enjoy the beautiful early summer of Yellowstone yet when I arrived I wasnt sure if I had passed Montana and landed in Alaska or if winter just refused to go away without a fight up in Montana. Turns out its the latter, which is why there is still more than six feet of snow packed on river banks and why I have yet to have a day on the river without rain pouring down on me. But I've still managed to catch some fish, and one catch in particular deserves mentioning.

It had been a very slow day on the Madison River. I had driven from West Fork to Reynolds to Between the Lakes and I finally ended up fishing a section of water known as Slide Inn. I love this water because every fish you catch is going to be a challenge. The water here is very fast, where I can only wade about one foot away from the bank without being swept away. So on a slow, rainy day I decided I would just park real fast, run out without my waders on and fish a few runs I knew held fish. I didnt expect to catch a fish, which is always when you do catch em, so when I saw my strike indicator go down I was half in shock.

After the fish was hooked I knew the most important thing was getting him in before he ran all the way downriver, as there where high trees along the bank that wouldnt allow me to walk with him and without waders going down the river was impossible, or it should have been. But as this fish took off the trout bum inside of me got the best of me, and I decided I would just hop in the river, jeans and all, in order to land my fish.

The next several minutes seem like a blur now as I slid all the way down the river, losing a shoe, falling over, and freezing-cold wet wading in 40-degree weather. But then I forgot about all my problems, because the fish was in. He was mine, all the River Runs Through It antics had paid off. Sure I was wet, cold and had lost a shoe, but the fish was mine. A victory dance was surely in store, but as I took off my damp jeans I noticed that Mother Nature hadnt let me take anything without giving. My wallet, which was in my jeans, had somehow fallen out as I fought the fish down river. Within the first week of my summer I had lost everything important: cash, credit cards and fishing licenses. And it was so worth it. I wouldnt trade that fish for my wallet, not now not ever. I guess I'm speaking like a true trout bum now.

After realizing I lost my wallet, I did what any fly-fisherman would do: I decided to go fish. I went to Reynolds Pass and while there I saw a sign that immediately put a smile on my face and made me realize that losing my wallet was no big deal. The sign read: Fly Box Found: Please Call and Identify and I will mail it out.' Seeing that sign on the side of the river made me appreciate how special this area truly is. Because people care for one another, they care for their neighbors and most importantly they care for their fellow fly fisherman. So wallet or no wallet, I know Ill be okay. I still have a rod and a river, and thats all a true trout bum ever needs. So enjoy this column throughout the summer. Maybe youll learn a thing or two, and maybe I will too.

Steven Spigelmyer attends the University of Nevada, and studies journalism. Tune in to his posts here from Yellowstone, all summer long.