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© William Walker

A Fly-fishing Fantasy Relived
By William Walker

  There is a place where nature has combined all of her resources to create a beautiful and pristine valley. A small river winds its way through the green meadows of this valley. In the mid to late summer, this river is full of beautiful and big Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Nature hides this place from the outside world and protects it with sheer mountains on all sides.

  The states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho are full of such pristine places. They exist in areas like the Wind River Range, the Beaverhead National Forests, the Targee National Forests, and in much of the northwestern mountains in and about Yellowstone National Park and The Grand Tetons National Park.

  My son, an avid fly fisherman, lives in this country and upon my visit in 2000, he said "Dad, how would you like to go and fly fish a secret river full of very large cutthroats. It will require a hike but it will be well worth it." Of course it did not take any further persuasion and I was ready for the task. It was in late August and early the next morning, he and I got in his four wheel drive Trooper and headed for this "secret place". As we wound up through the mountains, my excitement and anticipation mounted as he described the valley and told me of his experience fishing for these magnificent trout.

  Soon the pavement turned to gravel and not long afterward the road simply ended. We then bumped our way along a rough open meadow loaded with scrub and rocks. After what seemed like a lifetime, we came to a stop in front of a small wooded mountain. He said: "Dad, here is the mountain we have to hike over. There are grizzly bears in this country but I have never seen one in this place." Wow, I thought, now I will have to look over my shoulder all day for bears. I hope all of this is worth it.

  I grabbed my trusty 4 piece 5 weight Orvis fly rod, vest, and lightweight wading boots and away we went across a wide meadow and up a winding path that led to the top of the mountain. My legs, not what they used to be, required a few short rest stops but onward we trod, step by step. When we reached the top, we were overlooking this magnificent valley below with a small river winding through it. With great anticipation, I felt myself literally floating down the mountain. I even forgot about Grizzly bears for now.

  This small river has many curves that winds its way through the valley. Over the years, water current has carved deep undercuts into the banks, a perfect place for trout to lie in wait for food.

© William Walker

  Naturally my son was the first to throw a fly. He suggested we use either a White or Adams Wullf dry fly and throw it upstream where it would drift through the undercuts. On his first cast he had a large strike resulting in the yellow cutthroat you see in the photo above.

  My first cast with a White Wullf resulted in the same thing. The photo below shows the result of that strike. I held the rod high in my left hand to keep the trout stabilized while I was able to snap the photo with my right hand. This photo was very difficult to capture, but it came out pretty well after four different snaps with my camera.

© William Walker

  We worked our way upstream covering about two thirds of the water and concentrated on the pools and undercuts in the banks. We caught big trout in most of these undercuts. We then worked our way downstream where the river left the valley with a series of stepped down waterfalls that spilled through sheer rock walls into the valley below. The waterfalls dropped into a deep green pool and from this pool we took six magnificent cutthroats. These fish were all in the sixteen to nineteen inch category and the color of each trout was truly brilliant. Their red slashes even spilled bright red colors up along their upper gill plates.

  These are all native trout that spawn year after year in the mountain streams and brooks that abound in this area. These are the same native species of trout the American Indians and pioneers caught and ate throughout the western USA.

  About three o'clock in the afternoon, as the sun settled deeper to the west, we left that pristine place and headed back over the mountain. I was not too fond of getting caught there after dark, especially since it was in grizzly bear country.

© William Walker

  What an experience this had been. Between the two of us, we caught a little over sixty of these brilliant cutthroat trout in about six hours. My son also made me promise not to reveal the exact location of this secret place which I have done my best to uphold. I also thought the trout fishing world might enjoy reliving this actual fly-fishing fantasy with me.

William Walker
State of Georgia, USA
© 2002




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