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The Fish Whisperer

By Emily Stifler Wolfe

Giselle Fontanazza Hansen pulled her drift boat up onto an island near Pine Butte on the Madison River and her two clients, a couple in their 50s, got out to wade fish.

Not long after, the man had a fish on his line, so Hansen turned to grab her net. Suddenly, puncturing the otherwise serene landscape, the woman screamed.

When Hansen turned back, she saw something she’d never encountered in her 25-plus years of fly fishing: Her client was fighting an osprey for the fish.

“He has the fish hooked, and the osprey is grabbing his fish and trying to pull it away. So now, the guy has a fish and an osprey,” Hansen said, when recounting the events of that morning.

After 15 seconds or so, the line snapped, and the osprey flew off with the client’s fish.

After lunch, right when the air was beginning to warm, the group saw what they thought was trash floating downstream. Hansen rowed over to grab it, and her client reached out to retrieve instead an unopened beer in a koozie. The man, who happened to be celebrating a birthday, promptly cracked it open and took a swig.

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