Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Wyoming 2013 - Day Three

It was hard to believe, but after a year of looking forward to this trip we were already down to the last day.  Greg and I decided that for the final day we wanted to get as far off the grid as possible.  The morning came and our friend Kelly picked us up at the hotel, then we were quickly on the road.  After a bit we got off the main road and headed towards the mountains...and kept going...and going...

I am pretty sure that by the time we stopped we were as far off the grid as one can get in the lower United States for a day trip.  We were hours from the nearest real road and still had some hiking to do...it was perfect.  As we geared up at the car I was looking around and still wondering where the water was that we would be chasing trout around in.  We decided to have a quick bite to eat before hiking in and Kelly let us know "It's just up and over that saddle".  DOH!

We started to hike in by picking our way through the now very dry aroyos that when wet must just rip downhill.  Between the vegitation that was well armed to keep creatures away from it (read thorns, spikes,and burrs) and the elevation Greg and I both were hoping that the adrenaline and anticipatino would not wear off before we got the mile or so to the top...the walk down would be a snap.

After making it through the aroyos we had a ways to go up and over some scrub covered hills and then suddenly we were at the top and looking down in to a trout eden carved in to the mountains.

We picked our way down towards the water, being careful to avoid injury of any kind since it would suck to get this far and have to turn back.  As we made the final descent down towards the water you could feel the air temps being regulated by the cool water and the bubbling sound drew us in.

We scurried down the last slope and over a car sized boulder to be greeted with this pool as the first piece of water we would see for the day.  Today was my turn to go first and I was stoked to get a fly in the water as this was another one of those spots you just KNOW deep down (for you Dennis Leary guys this feeling was deep below the sub-cockles) that there was a fish just waiting to destroy whatever came by.  It would be a challenge to cast as the scrub grew in so close to, and even over, the water.  I pulled line off the reel and made the first cast well short just to get the feel for the water and get enough line to load the rod and reach the target...the soft seam at the base of the boulder.  The second cast I fired right on target and did not even have enough time to mentally congratulate myself on the placement as buttery lightning streaked out and nailed the fly just after splash down!

After a spirited fight in the fast water I slid this mean brown in to the net.  Smiles and high fives all around...awesome start to the day!

With that fish on the books we proceeded to swap through the lineup as we bouldered our way up the small water.  While the fish were willing to eat it was still surprisingly technical wade in to position and then get a drift good enough to pull the bigger fish out of their hiding spots.

It was great to have Kelly along with us again today.  He knew that Greg and I both would be carrying 9' sticks so he brought along a lighter and shorter rod for those really tight spots.

This pool was the deepest of the whole stretch that we fished... deep enough that I could likely stand under the rock on the right without hitting my head.  The water was so deep and clear that the big boys in this pool were at a distinct advantage.  We did get a few 10-12" fish to hand here but the big fish came out only once; he came from under the rock on the left to slash at a very slowly drifted fly and retreat to his hole not to be seen again.

We worked our way up in to the canyon very slowly as we presented flies to each side of each rock, and to each eddy, seam, or depression.  It took remarkably little break in the current or slight increase in depth  to create holding water for these hard fighting fish.

Buttery goodness and feisty spotted rainbows kept us busy.

As you can see the casting required an acute awareness of the surroundings as any errant backcast was guaranteed to hang up.  This was small water fishing at it's best and we felt right at home picking apart the narrow boulder filled flows.

We were all in on the act and I am not sure the smiles ever left our faces.

This fish was my most memorable of the day.  He was hanging out, completely invisible in four inches of water, between two boulders that were two feet apart.  I had atleast a dozen well drifted flies within three feet of this fish that went untouched...I carefully hit each seam and break leaving just the middle left.  As I sized up another cast Greg told me "It's time for the field goal...split those uprights", so I did.  A few seconds in to the drift the fly seemed to simply disappear without even the slightest ripple so I set to some nice weight on the line.  "See.  I told you homie", Greg said laughing.

As the sun was getting ever closer to the canyon wall we knew that our trip was coming to and end and wanted the get Greg in to one more of his beloved browns.  He worked throgh some really tight quarters and was able to make one of those seeing-eye type roll casts in to the impossible spot to get in to this fish.  Honestly it is a crappy shot of the fish but one of my favorite shots of Greg as there is nothing but a smile to be had.  What a day.

We finished of the trip with a few more fish in the last hundred feet or so, with the nicest fish being this brown.  We wanted to keep on going but knew that we had to start back out to get out while there was still light...wouldn't want to try and make this hike in the dark.  We took in one last look up the box canyon and started our way back towards the car.  About a hour and a half later we were back on the back bumper pulling off our wading shoes to end what had been another awesome trip.  There was not a lot of conversation as we slowly wound our way back across the open countryside towards our small pocket of civilization...we were just looking around and soaking as much in as we could since it will be a bit before we see it again.
I was so busy while we were there, and since I have been back, that I did not even have a chance to look through the pictures on the camera before cleaning up each day to be shared.  I get goosebumps looking back at what we did and look forward to making the trip again...something that I now know will happen in 347 days.  Yup, we already have July 12-14 set aside for the return trip in 2014!  If you are interested in tagging along give Greg Senyo a call (419.466.9382) and he can fill you in on the details as long as there are open spots available.  This is a trip that I plan to make every year I am physically able...truly a special spot.

-mike schmidt

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