A River Runs Through Cambridge

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.” -Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It.

The Little Weiser River, early Autumn.

Two rivers actually flow through our little town. The Weiser River and the Little Weiser River join at a place just East of the rocky canyon where the only highway enters town. In the spring when the water is cooler and before they head into the mountains for the summer, colorful rainbow trout can sometimes be caught in these waters. We know because we have seen them. The locals kids also know these waters, along with the Middle Fork of the Weiser and the other smaller creeks that give life to the crops that will grow food which will eventually feed their livestock.

The 9th and 10th grade students at Cambridge High School are currently reading A River Runs Through It, by Norman Maclean. It’s a beautifully written semi-autobiographical story about the author and his relationship with his brother. The story is set in a small town in Montana in the 1920s probably not much different than our town.

Inspired by the book, the English teacher, Mr. McMichael and with help from the Indian Head Fly-Fishing Club and my brother-in-law Dave, put on a fly casting and fly tying school assembly. The students got some hands-on instruction and watched flies used in the 1920s being handmade by experienced fisherman. So what do high school English and fly-fishing have to do with one another? Well, not much except what a great way to teach those kids that are visual learners. Imagine doing that with every book you read? For example, visit Yukon Territory in Canada while reading White Fang, Alabama while reading To Kill A Mockingbird, or, even better, visit Amsterdam while reading Diary of Anne Frank.

Below are some more of my favorite quotations from the book and photos from the recent school assembly at Cambridge High School.

_DSC1638_DSC1557“Many of us would probably be better fishermen if we did not spend so much time watching and waiting for the world to become perfect.”

_DSC1653“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.”

_DSC1524_DSC1533“Yet even in the loneliness of the canyon I knew there were others like me who had brothers they did not understand but wanted to help. We are probably those referred to as “our brothers keepers,” possessed of one of the oldest and possible one of the most futile and certainly one of the most haunting instincts. It will not let us go.”

_DSC1649_DSC1581_DSC1549“If our father had had his way, nobody who did not know how to fish would be allowed to disgrace a fish by catching him.”

_DSC1529“My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him all good things – trout as well as eternal salvation – come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.”

_DSC1606_DSC1539“At sunrise everything is luminous but not clear. It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us. You can love completely without complete understanding.”


_DSC1618“So it is that we can seldom help anybody. Either we don’t know what part to give or maybe we don’t like to give any part of ourselves. Then, more often than not, the part that is needed is not wanted. And even more often, we do not have the part that is needed.”

_DSC1674Thank you, fellow fly-fishers for coming to our town and school.



  1. This is a beautiful and true story. Here in our little town not many people realize how good the fishing is or how much time that us local kids spend in the river during summer. It was a very fun day when the Indian Head fly fishing club came and taught us how to fly fish, which most of us have never done.

    1. Valery,
      I was excited to see you catch those two trout on the fly-rod. Especially excited when I found out that it was a fly that I made that caught them. You are a naturally gifted fly-fisher(woman).

  2. Beth Damon

    As we have been reading A River Runs Through It we have gained a great deal of hands-on learning about the art of fly-fishing. We have learned about how difficult it is to create art through patience, persistence, and flat out doing exactly as taught by an expert. There are often times we are not patient enough although we have the skills. Through reading this story and learning this art form we have learned true art, beauty, and patience.

  3. I thought that that was a really good post! The quotes were cool and the pictures were awesome!

  4. I thought the article truly reflected what we learned and the fun we had while doing it. Great job! This fly-fishing experience allowed me to learn to do something I probably wouldn’t of ever done otherwise. Thank you!

  5. Great post! fly fishing was an awesome and fun experience for all of us. A bit more difficult than it looks, but fun once you got the hang of it.

    1. I’m glad you had fun. It is hard! I practiced in the backyard for weeks before hitting the river. Lots of things to think about but after practice, practice, practice, it’ll come natural.

  6. Thank you very much for teaching my class how to fly-fish it was very fun and interesting. You did a wonderful job on writing the article

  7. I believe that for many of us in this town we know what it is like to spend hours on end at the river fishing during the summer. Having the Indian Head Fly-Fishing Club come in was a great experience. Fly fishing was a new experience but, definitely a fun one that was well worth it. This article was a great representation of how enjoyable it was.

  8. Leslie,
    Thanks so much for posting about the fly fishing experience of our freshman and sophomore English classes. What a great opportunity for separate generations to join in a common activity. I’m so thankful there are people like you, your brother-in-law and the Indianhead Fly Fishing club to help hand down this wonderful experience!!

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