Looking out of my front window at a scene of snow which takes my sight line all the way to the Burghill forest and with a good pair of binoculars Roe Deer can be seen occasionally, it is not surprising that my mind wanders to my favourite part of the world, a long way of in the north American Rocky Mountains in the state of Montana.
I have been going there now for thirty years and at first did not understand its nickname the “Big Sky Country” but I soon found out, as the horizon there can be up to a hundred miles away depending on the elevation you are at.
Just imagine if we went to the top of Caterthun being able to see the Castle in Edinburgh. The first time I realized just what it meant was while we were driving through the National Bison Range is the North West near a small town called Polson.
We could see the entire length of the Flathead Lake, a body of water which we might call a sea and we could see the land beyond it where we were staying with friends and from where we had taken six hours to drive. A vast land and for me and people like me from all over the world - an anglers paradise.
I had fished the Flathead Lake a few days before and the first thing you need is a fast boat and someone who knows this vast expanse of water. He started telling me stories of Lake Trout and this was new to me and the weight of the fish I thought was a leg pull.
Now we know better thanks to the various television documentaries which have brought this world into our homes, but to be over such fish is enough to get anyone excited. He must have seen I was a long way from believing him as he took off fast to a lakeside dock store and filling station where he called on the owner to let me have a look in her freezer and I was gobsmaked.
There before me lay not one but several huge trout to over thirty pounds, much lighter in colour than our native fish and spotted lightly across its body.
I had to grovel to my guide and I was then taken to see the tackle they used to attract these fish. Basically it was a short carbon spinning rod with fixed spool reel and thirty pound mono. The leader was steel wire and this was attached to a very large lure (approx six / seven inches) with a massive downrigger plate which is designed to get the lure down as far as 150 foot as these fish swim deep.
Excited is not just the word to describe my feelings but then the hammer fell, it was off season and the fish were running the many powerful river coming down from the Rockies in their annual spawning run, so the catch might come someday. I hope.
(P.S. I did hook a small one in a massive river a few days later but it was only a few pounds and the hope lingers of the struggle against a “big un”.)
Isn’t it good to have memories to fill in these driech days of our winter, these days when you get fed up of our own company and you can imagine you are somewhere else. Yes Scotland is a wonderland and no-one knows this more than me as I reckon there are very few places in the country I have not been and a very few I still have in my sight but in our travels I now know Scotland is not unique and there is always another visa around the corner and fantastic rivers, oceans and lakes for a fisherman to enjoy.
Tight Lines, Bill Balfour