| 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.
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.
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.
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.
State of Georgia, USA