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Dan Tolson


My dad recently gifted me all his old fly-tying gear. Sifting through the boxes of rotten fur and feathers I came across one of his fishing journals from the late 70's. I never knew he used to spend 3-4 days a week on the fabled Bighorn south of Billings MT during the years it was closed to public access. Thumbing through pages describing 50 fish days of 5-pound trout I came across an entry where he chronicled taking me, a 9-month-old baby, in the boat. It described a good day of midge fishing in late winter. Much like a baby horse is imprinted in the first moments of life, I suppose a love affair with fly fishing was imprinted that day.

My obsession began in middle school. I recall begging my dad to drive me to the river so I could have just a few minutes before sunset to take advantage of a caddis hatch on the South Platte west of Denver. Later, with a car and a license, I would spend every high school spring break and summer vacation chasing hatches across southwest Montana. While attending Montana State in Bozeman my friends thought me crazy when I would hustle from class in a below zero January blizzard to throw my pontoon boat into the Madison, hunting big browns.

These days blessed with 5 amazing kids, a beautiful wife, and a little place in Bondurant my days on the water usually involve dry flies, mountain lakes, and patience. I've never worked as a professional guide but have spent many wonderful days on the water guiding kids and friends. Life continues to move faster, and I cherish every moment spent fishing. Any time I can get away from my day job running Valley Landscape Service in Jackson, my dream is to fill it with hatches, riffles, and hungry trout.

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