by Erik Barrus
My favorite place to fly fish in Montana is a small mountain lake called Cabin Lake up the west fork of Thompson River. The lake is rife with native westslope cutthroats that fight like you stole their lunch money. I have been going to this lake at least once a year since I was sixteen years old. I have camped there many times; seeing bears, mountain goats, moose, and mule deer. It truly is my favorite place in the world.
Having lived my whole life in northwestern Montana I grew up in the woods; hiking barely-worn trails, picking tart huckleberries, and having countless wild animal encounters. Many nights have I laid under the stars in the mountains listening to screeching owls and the low growling of lynx. The Yaak is famed for still being highly remote to this day. Then came the day when I heard and experienced something that was beyond explanation; something that seemed empyreal.
On this particular summer day I was taking a day-trip up to Cabin Lake where I planned to fish for a few hours and then head back to civilization afterwards. As I was putting on my fins and getting ready to launch my float tube I heard two ominous guttural beckonings of a creature from across the lake that I had never heard before. In an instant my eyes became a tractor beam on the brush and shoreline looking for the culprit. I waited for ten minutes scanning back and forth and heard nary a bird chirp. So, I proceeded to launch and worked my way around the lake to my favorite spot where the mountain spring feeds the lake, which also happens to be the spot from where I heard the sounds earlier. As I worked my way around the far side of the lake I started hitting the honeyhole hard, landing five or six fish in a row on my trusty fluorescent orange stimulator. As I was getting into the groove I had all but forgotten about the lowly grunting from earlier.
From the corner of my eye I spotted and splash and assuming it was from a fish rising I quickly reset my line on top of the outward protruding rings. Within seconds I spotted something sail from the brush and plop in the water about five feet in front of me. Thinking it might be some asshat chucking rocks I yelled, “Hey I am fishing here!” Again, a rock came sailing from the brush and in an instant the bellowing from earlier came flying back into my head. The adrenaline started to spike as I watched the bank and buckbrush with ferocity. All at once I saw a flash of hide move laterally from a window in the brush about ten feet high. This is where the ol’ pucker factor cranked up to 11! Bears do not move like that, that is what I told myself. When a bear is standing up on two legs they cannot move that fast laterally. As my mind was racing I saw the dark carob flash again across the interstice in the brush. I heard a few twigs break as the unknown pelted creature receded into the woods.
Now, once the sphincter released I decided I would go check out the spot in the brush from whence I saw the legendary creature move. I kicked into shore and laid down my fly rod. I walked back into where the wooded window was and sure enough it was about ten feet tall. I saw a few freshly broken sticks on a bush and that was it. It clearly was not on par with The fabled Patterson footage but it was an experience that was other-worldly and I can only explain as being the cryptid known as Bigfoot.
I have always been inclined to believe that Sasquatch was real. Mostly due to the fact that much of the ocean is largely undiscovered. There is certainly a chance that there are still undocumented animals on terra firma. People all across the planet have stories of the Sasquatch of the mountain northwest, the Yeti of China, Nepal and Russia, and the Yowie of Australia. I am a believer that there are things about this planet that we do not yet have an explanation for so why not Sasquatch. Why not Sasquatch?