Reflecting on another fishy year

Hope everyone survived (is surviving) the holiday
madness. Around here, snow’s been falling, temperatures
dropping and a lot of relaxing has been occurring. We’ve had a
nice Christmas; meeting up with some friends and spending a
lot of time just lounging around reading and tying flies. Jamie
surprised me this year with a lifetime Wyoming fishing
license. While putting it in my wallet, I took out the collection
of wrinkled 2014 fishing licenses I acquired and they got me
reflecting on this past season. (hey isn’t this what people with
blogs do this time of year?)


I was fortunate to fish a variety of waters, accumulating
quite a few licenses; Wyoming, Yellowstone, Reservation,
Idaho, Colorado and Utah. There were a lot of good days spent
casting flies to trout in the locations and I look forward to
2015 and the fishing adventures that await. Currently in
addition to the usual haunts, there are plans to visit the Green
down at Flaming Gorge this winter, the Salmon in search of
steelhead, and a Bahama bonefish reunion tour among others.
Thinking about all these different waters and trips also
reminded me how much I love my home waters of Wyoming.
It’s nice to have so much trout water in one state and some
unbelievable country to explore within an hour or three of
home. And while I fish quite a bit, it seems there is always
more water to explore; whether it’s a new lake or river, or
water higher up a drainage that gets fished often.

Below are a few notable highlights from my own personal
fishing adventures. Enjoy and here’s to making some more
great memories in 2015.

Fishing the Wind River Indian Reservation gives up
some lunkers. This guy was sipping midges in the

brown on bamboo

Idaho Steel. Jamie and I got around to steelhead
fishing in ID last spring. It was an honor to bring two of these
guys to hand. Hundreds of miles from the ocean and beautiful!

in idaho

My friend Kurt joined me for a few days of Wyoming
fly fishing this spring.While spring can be a bit of gamble for
those casting the long rod, there are some awesome
opportunities One of the days we floated the Big Horn outside
of Thermop. Everything was perfect; the weather, the fish and
the company wasn’t bad either..

Kurt on the 'horn

The highlight of my summer came when I got to
take my 86 year old grandfather fishing on the Snake. He used
to fish out here often, but hadn’t been out in a few years. I’d
say he still has “it”.

and my grandfather

Here’s Jamie as we decend into the Black Canyon of
the Yellowstone river in YNP. We spent a few days in the fall
fishing and camping in the park. Couldn’t have asked for a
better time..

Jamie heading into the black canyon

While Ruby James’ time on earth was short, she
brought us A LOT of fun and happiness. She was on her way to
becoming an excellent companion and fishing dog. We miss her
a lot.

jamie and ruby

A December streamer bite

Fishing is full of surprises. Determined to fish Friday, I set
out from our cabin outside Dubois to fish some nearby water.
For the first hour or so, the wind blew and trout wanted little to
do with my double nymph setup. I debated throwing in the
towel, but in the end decided to throw streamers. Maybe I had
paid my dues earlier, maybe it was the giant articulated
pattern from my vise or maybe it was the long, flat non
descript water; whatever the reason, I was rewarded with a
number of angry trout. Fish hammered my streamer, turning
my day into one of the best streamer fishing days I’ve had in a
long time. Eventually, by mid afternoon, with the sun setting
behind the distant mountains, my day came to and end and I
traded my waders for a fire in the woodstove and comfy couch.

The only rainbow of the day put up one heck of a
fight, fighting well above his weight class

Rainbow likes the streamer

A view streamside. The low December sunlight lit up
the red hills providing a stark contrast to the dark waters of
the Wind river.

Dubois' Wind River in December

This big kype-jawed male brown trout couldn’t help
Wind River Brown

Another nice brown showing off some pretty

Butter in the December sun

The only questions is

Like a lot of fly fishers I know, I love “off the beaten path” trout waters. Fortunately here in Wyoming, we have a lot of them. I’ve been fortunate over the years to share some of my favorite “off the beaten path” trout waters with guests. Yellowstone and the surrounding national forests have a tremendous amount of diverse fishing options. Often the hardest question is figuring out what kind of fishing you’d like to do. Want to fish for Yellowstone Cutthroat trout, Rainbows, Browns, spunky Brook trout? How about Grayling in the high country? The options are endless. About this time every year I start daydreaming about places to fish next season; remembering secret haunts, all while putting together adventures for next year. It’s only mid December, but it’s never to early plan right?  

Yellowstone Cutthroat trout are abdundant in many high country streams and lakes..

Backcountry yellowstone cutthroat

Pure Wyoming trout wilderness….

Wyoming trout country

December days on the water

Well it’s been a little while since I’ve cast a fly. The past
few weeks were cold, making fly fishing difficult at best. That,
combined with the loss of Ruby James made getting out a low
priority. Fortunately temperatures around here have warmed
and some good fishing friends recognized the need to get me
out. Matt and I spent a few hours wade fishing the Snake on
Friday. Temperatures were in the 40s and the snowpack along
the river shallow. We tag-teamed a few nice looking runs with
nymphs and managed a few fish to hand. I was a little
surprised we didn’t see any risers, but nothing wrong with
subsurface action in December. We spoke to a few other
anglers in the parking lot and surmised that melting snow
dropped water temperatures and made fish inactive (always
good to have theories on why the fishing’s slow).

Matt fishes a double nymph combo in hopes of
fooling a few fish in a deep run….

Snake River in December

A cutthroat, no matter the size, always feels like a
victory in the winter….

winter cutthroat trout

During the weekend, I found myself in Dubois checking on
our cabin. The weather was fantastic and I was excited to hit
the water with friend and fishing guru Leon Sanderson. We
fished a few different pieces of water and managed some nice
fish. Again though, we had to work for our fish. Tight line
nymphing was challenging as the takes were very subtle.
Regardless, it was great to catch up with Leon and spend an
entire day on the water. Plus, I feel like it was a good way for
me to deal with the loss of the pup. We celebrated our day
with a delicious homecooked fried chicken dinner!

Leon working a nice run of water….

December on the Wind River

This week looks to continue to be fairly nice. I’m jumping
back in the substitute teaching game but hope to also get out
on the Snake.

Losing a good one

It was my hope to give a report of fishing in CO over
Thanksgiving. Unfortunately instead I am filled with nothing but
sadness. Our lab pup, Ruby James, died in a horrible freak
accident last week. Jamie and I are left with heavy hearts as we
try to get through this and move on with things around here.
Here’s to Ruby James, a great pup and companion who provided
us with much joy and happiness during her short life.