My story starts on the Bighorn River in south central Montana in May 2010. My husband and I decided to book three days on the river with a guide. I thought this trip was going to be like a previous vacation to Los Cabos except instead of sitting on the beach next to the sea, I would be sitting on a boat on a river.

In addition to imagining myself sitting in a boat, I also latched on to the idea of just allowing my senses to come alive – especially auditory. I have spent a fair amount of time birding – to my kids’ astonishment – and being outside to listen and learn about the local birds seemed like it would work for me. I was also intrigued by the mystery and talk I had heard about this “sport”.

In the end, I was right in my hunch that this was going to be something I would enjoy. I was wrong because it is not something I am just going to enjoy but rather, I have become obsessed with wanting to be on a river and learn about the multitude of things you need to know to become an angler.

I will make this recommendation many times over the next year – hire a guide to help you navigate and understand whatever river you decide to fish. These men and women are like your local librarian who has been researching her whole life. They know the spots on the river where you’re most likely to catch fish. They know what kind of flies are most likely to attract the fish. They know how to row such that you will have the best chance of not spooking fish. They will tie new flies on your line when you snag the brush on the side of the river time and again.

Plus they’re just so connected with the outdoors. They can see a bird flying several hundred yards down the stream and identify it because, well just because.

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