Home is where the heart is, which means as your heart grows, you can discover new homes. I am beyond blessed to have inherited a new home up in Montana, where my wife’s family have a place on the Gallatin River.
The Gallatin flows on the backend of their properties, as if a painting of a midwest river sprung to life. Large boulders line the banks and dot the coursing river, turning blue-green waters foamy white. Lush underbrush and stately evergreen trees stand straight and narrow, clustered in endless packs and running up the sides of mountainous peaks in the distance. From kayaking and swimming to fly-fishing in all weather, the Gallatin is the quintessential American river.
And on top of that, the Gallatin in some ways symbolizes something much greater than fishing for me. As my love for my wife took root and grew, I was welcomed into her incredible family with open arms. We dated, our love deepened, and she became my wife, and in that moment I gained not just in-laws, but a second set of true parents.
My father-in-law loves fly-fishing. He absolutely loves it, and over the years we spent countless hours out on the Gallatin, a quality time you can’t rush, can’t replace, and I will always remember. It was about more than the fishing — even though he bought me my first Ross Reel and Sage fly rods. It was about a new bond between father- and son-in-law.
In-laws can get a bad wrap sometimes; you don’t always expect them to be parental figures, let alone friends. But my father-in-law became a second father out on those waters and a mentor in so many ways. A great businessman, we talked a lot about work. We swapped stories and talked about life, and the importance of balance. The conversations alone were special, but to have them while standing knee deep in waders, casting out against a backdrop of pure Montana majesty…they were rich, unforgettable times.
There’s no end to the river systems out that way, around and through the Gallatin, and sometimes we’d leave the rods behind to just float down the water, laughing and telling jokes. It felt a lot of times like there was always a mountain looming over us, somewhere in the distance no matter which way you looked, and I’ve come to see how the mountains were really symbolic of the figures we love and look up to — always looming, always there, even if briefly out of side.
I can’t recommend the river system enough if you’re out in Montana. I have admitted to my own bias, but it really is a tremendous fishery teeming with rainbow and brown trout. It’s a place you can explore and get lost or just sit still and be fully content fishing one spot. If you have any wits about you, you’ll catch incredible eagles, deer, osprey, coyotes, and even some moose if you’re lucky. It’s a wilderness, a pure treasure, and for us it was right out their back door.
In a final twist of sorts, the Gallatin as a symbol and metaphor for so many things in life has one final payoff. I’ve noticed over the years that it is constantly changing its course. Sometimes it floods in heavy rain, other times it tends to dry up in drought, and every time we go back it feels like a totally new river. The elements stay the same, but the experience is new. How could there be a more perfect metaphor for the flow of our lives?
Don’t take my word for it; I hope you can see it for yourself. Go with good company, and great fishing will be a byproduct. You can go out and fly fish all day, have some laughs, and lose track of time as the world moves on around you. Just keep catching and reeling, and you’ll be taking it all in — literally and, yes, metaphorically.