“When you drive on down the valley the Madison River flows through,
It kind of sweeps away the troubles the real world lays on you.
The sky goes on forever, no jet trails mar its face,
The snow capped mountains glisten, there’s so much open space.
Then far off in the distance, familiar trees come in to view,
There it is! I see the town and the old Blue Moon Saloon.”
A number of years ago I wrote this little stanza as a prelude to auctioning off a fly fishing trip on the Madison River at our annual fundraiser for youth winter sports: The Jans Winter Welcome.
I’ve been fishing the Madison annually for more than 60 years, and to me it’s the ultimate fly fishing experience. As I told my partner and current President and CEO of Jans, Russ Coburn (who is also a scratch golfer) when we first ventured up to the Madison River to fly fish, “Today, we are going to Augusta.” I’d taught Russ how to fish at the Thousand Peaks Ranch, but the trip to the Madison was his official christening into big time fly fishing.
Some of my fondest fishing memories have occurred on this river. When my dad first brought me, we camped by the Wade Lake road bridge. He slept in the back of our station wagon and I rolled out my sleeping bag and slept on the ground. I was sure a bear was going to awaken me, so I didn’t sleep much. Our dog, Jiggers, stood watch and protected me.
Over the years my good friends and colleagues would sometimes join me on my annual fly fishing trips to the Madison. Once as we sat by the river at the end of the day, a group of us plotted how we could buy the town of Cameron, which included the Blue Moon Saloon.
If you are a fly fisherman then it is well worth the 6 ½ hour drive to Montana to fish the Madison River. Put this trip on your bucket list. You’ll never forget it.