Montana Headwall » Head Lines & Features

Almost unkillable

A lifelong quest for carp on a fly

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I asked if anyone had struck scale.

“I stuck one,” the pontoon boss said, “but he swam off.”

“With the arrow?”

“Yeah, right in the dorsal,” he said. “But he was fine. I’ve seen those guys swimming around for weeks with the fletching sticking out of the water. You can’t hardly kill em.”

Apparently not.

I had showered Tim with gratitude for his expertise, purchased a few dozen of his unmatched hopper patterns at Frontier Anglers, and was headed homeward up I-15 when the cellphone rang. It was my mom bearing more not-so-great news about my grandmother.

Montana Headwall. Outdoor adventure under the Big Sky.
  • Joe Irons

“But she’ll probably prove the doctors wrong again,” she said. “Outlive us all.”

I pulled over to talk but couldn’t muster much, so I hung up and watched the high evening sun illuminate plumes of water sprayed from irrigation pivots—tiny, long-traveled filaments of the reservoir falling across the expansive, green-as-it-gets Beaverhead Valley.

I kept quiet and let my eyes well.

What’s a tear, I wondered, but more evidence of how we end up, like water, a long way from what we thought was home.

Montana Headwall. Outdoor adventure under the Big Sky.
  • Joe Irons

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