A perfect fit.
A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of hosting Rob and Aidan Bell, a father/son duo from the United Kingdom on their vacation to the fly fishing waters of southern Montana. Each day started and ended in the dining room, where my fellow servers and I awaited the day’s stories from the two of them. It was clear from the day Rob and Aidan arrived that this was a special trip; a birthday gift, we later found out, from Aidan to his father. They had heard of Firehole Ranch off and on throughout the years from fellow fishermen and different publications in the UK. That, combined with Rob’s reading of Norman Maclean’s “A River Runs Through It,” planted the seed that finally brought them to the Ranch to fish the waters of Montana. We couldn’t have been more pleased to host them, and it seems the feeling was mutual as Rob and Aidan returned each night bursting with stories from the day with their guide, Josh Duchateau. It was quite clear that Rob’s first trip to the United States would not soon be forgotten.
The one that got away…
One of Rob’s fishing stories from the week seems an unlikely story to tell, but illustrates what a true fisherman Rob is, and what fishing is often about. Josh, Aidan and Rob started the day by hiking up the Bighorn trail between West Yellowstone and Big Sky to the headwaters of the Gallatin River in Yellowstone National Park. After about three miles, they arrived at the fishing spot. It was beautiful. Kneeling on the bank, Rob was instructed to cast upstream to a ledge. It was a spot Josh was certain would hold a cutbow, their desired catch of the day. Rob made what each of the men present said was an absolutely perfect cast; exactly in the spot intended. Sure enough, a cutbow rose out of the water and took the fly. It was then that Rob should have set the hook, the fish should have put up his fight and eventually been landed and then released back to his watery home. Yet Rob missed the take. He watched the cutbow rise, mouth the fly and then return to his bubbly perch on the ledge. He was only moments too late in setting the hook. Rob was surely disappointed and said he wanted so badly to return his fly to the same spot and catch that fish…he knew he could do it. But, he left the fish behind and went on to catch other cutbows that day, perhaps realizing that the experience in itself was perfectly imperfect; the hike, the ledge, the cast, the fish, the take…and the miss.
“…where everybody knows your name…”
When asked how they would describe the staff at Ranch to their friends and family back home, Rob and Aidan sang the praises of Josh, as well as the rest of the Firehole staff. “Within 20 minutes, everyone knew us by name and it felt real and genuine; like we were being invited into a big family.” They described Josh as very trustworthy and appreciated his expertise and thoughtful, real conversation on the banks of the waters.
A gift for all.
Hosting Aidan’s gift vacation to his father was an honor for all of us here at the Firehole Ranch. We of course asked what we could do to convince them to return. Their answer was, “Nothing. We’d come back anytime.”
Thank you, Rob and Aidan, for reminding us how lucky we are not only to live in this spectacular place that we call home for a few months of the year, but also to share it with such a warm group of guests and staff.