The Catch And Release Of A Real Monster

by Rich Miller
(Crown Point, IN, USA)

It was a crisp bright October day in Yellowstone Park and I came to Madison Junction with my friend, Tom. I wanted to fish the mouth of the Firehole River where it joins with the Gibbon to form the magnificent Madison River. Always the adventurer, Tom opted to hike into Firehole Canyon.
I was kneeling along the bank and casting a March Brown Soft Hackle across and down stream to a feeding pod of rainbows. Behind me was the tall grasses prevalent in this area and so I was trying to keep my back-cast high enough to clear them. About 7 or 8 casts in to this effort and having one miss on a take, I momentarily dropped my back-cast and sure enough got hung up. Having no success getting the fly loosened from its hangup, I got up and began to reel in while walking back to where the fly was caught. Holding the rod tip high so I could walk directly to it, I noticed some movement in the tall grass between the trail Tom had taken into the canyon and the right bank of the river. It was clear that this was where my fly had snagged as well. I kept reeling to within 10-12 feet of the snag when I first caught glimpse of my fly caught in the snarled fur on a bison's back. The brute was napping in the deep bed of the grass. I put the rod down and carefully lifted the line and walked far enough to get to the leader and snipped it off and returned to where I had been casting.
About an hour later and always looking behind me to make sure the sleeping brute did not get up and move my way, I heard Tom walking back down the trail to me. I asked him if he saw my catch of a lifetime lying in the grass along the trail he just passed. He said "No", so I took him back to see and he almost passed out as it was clear he came within two feet of its head on his trip out of the canyon.

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