Jordan "Mac" McPhetres was and still is an Ennis Montana legend. More than one knowledgeable Ennis area old-timer will tell you Mac was the best Madison River guide ever. What I say about him here will have to evolve over time, as I learn more about him.
As a meagre start I do remember an early summer day on the Madison, below the Beartrap in the early 1980s when I was trying to scrape up a few extra dollars doing river trips. I had two guys from Canada and a brand new boat I'd recently finished building. The sun was shining and the early summer river was fat wide clear and beautiful. We'd caught a few fish and I was on top of the world. I thought I must really be hot stuff.
I had my boat anchored up on the side of the river while my clients ate their lunch and talked about what a great day it was. And then Mac came down the river in one of his short, ugly-brown and square-ended fiberglass prams. He anchored up right in front of us. He had two guys wading in fairly shallow water, casting toward the edge of a weed ledge at mid-river. They were fishing across and down with wet flies. I could see that much. And I could also see they caught at least a dozen fish in less than a half an hour--while we ate our sandwiches. We didn't catch that many all day long. Like deja-vu all over again I witnessed the same thing the following year on an early season wade trip below the dam at McAllister. I remember watching surreptitiously and a little nervously from the road. Once again they were swinging wet flies across and down. I watched them catch as many fish in one run as I did all day.
I've heard people say Mac was the best Madison River guide ever. And I've heard many other stories similar to my own. These photos were all taken from a box of (mostly) Steelhead flies Mac made. I don't know the names of any of these flies or even if there were any real names for these flies. But I had to call them something, so I made up all the link names you see at screen left.
If anybody out there has any any McPhetres stories photographs or flies,
me your story. I'll print it here. I still want to know what fly they were fishing that day. Even though I suspect where when and how was more important that day, than what with.