mike cline introductory

125 miles SE of Center on the Lamar River
125 miles SE of Center on the Lamar River

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, MT
As a young teenager growing up in Southern California suburbia in the 1960s fishing wasn’t high on my list of things to do. Even so, as a family we’d make regular summer trips to the beach to fish off the piers for perch and swim in the surf and there was also an occasional trip into the Sierras where we dunked salmon eggs for hatchery rainbows. In retrospect, my dad was an inept angler, but he was enthusiastic and somehow instilled a spark in me that has flamed for over 50 years. During my secondary school years two important events occurred that shaped my passion for fishing the rest of my life. My mother brought a book home for me: Worming and Spinning for Trout, by Jerry Wood (1959). Why she thought I needed a book on fishing for heavily pressured brown trout in New York, I’ll never know. As I’ll write about later, the wisdom in that book has accounted for a lot of fish over the last 40 years. By chance at the same time, the local Boy’s Club was holding beginner’s fly tying classes sponsored by the Pasadena Casting Club. My mom signed me up and over the course of a weekend I learned the basics of fly tying. You can guess what followed–the purchase of basic fly tying stuff, saving money for a fly rod, and more books. Once I had a fly rod, the old timers at the casting club taught me the basics of fly casting and, experts as they were, instilled in me a real passion for casting and fly tying. Eventually my fly rod, a fly I had tied and I connected with a fish in a small mountain stream in the San Gabriels. Metaphorically, I was hooked.
By 1968, I had survived my youth and all its challenges and entered the U.S. Air Force. The early years were spent in regions where fly fishing wasn’t the norm. But in the 1970s, tours in Washington, Alaska and Montana gave me ample opportunity to get hooked on serious trout fishing. In retrospect, and knowing what I know about Southwest Montana today, I probably squandered many an opportunity back in the 1970s. Throughout my 28 year Air Force career and the last 18 years as a consultant, I’ve had the opportunity to fish in a lot of different places for all sorts of fish with lots of different tackle. I am not a well healed angler that can buy a trip anywhere they want to go, but traveling for work does create opportunities. In 2008 I moved back to Montana, leaving a nice lake house and bass boat in Alabama. Southwest Montana, Yellowstone and its rivers, streams and trout have become the center of my universe. I still have my first real fly rod. I still have Jerry’s book which shares the shelves with hundreds more and I suspect if I looked very carefully, I probably have some of the first fly tying materials I ever bought. Bozeman Montana is my home now. When I am home I fish, I tie flies, I talk to other anglers, guides and fly shop owners, and above all, I read about fly fishing. When Kate of J. Stockard asked me to be a regular contributor to this blog, I appreciated the opportunity to share my thoughts about the Center of My Universe with others who enjoy reading about fly fishing. I am anxious to live up to whatever expectations emerge.
Note from J. Stockard: We are pleased to announce that Mike Cline, avid fly fisher and tyer and man of many talents, has agreed to be a regular contributor to our blog. You can read all his posts to date right here and look forward to his regular contributions in the future.

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