I Have Loved Madison County Since My First Cast at 5 Years Old
The person I am today (for better or worse) owes a lot to the town of Ennis, Montana and the Madison Valley as a whole. That place shaped my childhood in all the best ways.
Ennis has been on my mind a lot recently because my dad's best friend, a long time guide and outfitter south of Cameron, just turned 90 years old. Gordon Patton is a wonderful, knowledgeable good 'ole boy who has not only been an excellent steward of the Madison Valley for decades, but has taught thousands of people how to fly fish.
I'll be writing more about Gordon soon, so let's get back to the Madison Valley itself and why it's so great. Shaped my childhood? Well, yes. Every single summer since I was five years old was spent in a house directly on the river. Fishing was what our vacation was all about. With little exception a rod was cast every single day, usually for many more hours than a young kid can tolerate.
When it was time to learn how to drive, what better place than 287? Back in the day there wasn't much traffic, plenty of wide open stretches to see oncoming traffic, and perfect side dirt roads to practice entering and exiting a highway. Papoose Creek to Indian Creek was my jam. Taking the trash to the dump on that long, dirt road? I'm on it with a smile...just give me the keys.
Day trips to Yellowstone, fishing, learning to drive, 4th of July in Ennis, learning to ride horses at Indian Creek...all of it remains crystal clear in my mind. And I can barely remember what I had for breakfast. Heading into Virginia City, loading up on a huge bag of candy and using the loot as gambling money for kid poker games. That's the stuff that growing up is all about, right?