Wednesday was a travel day for us, back to Salt Lake City from Island Park. With flights leaving out of SLC Thursday morning I thought it best to stay there the night before. It also provided a good opportunity that night to meet up with friends from high school who now live in Salt Lake. Instead of heading down Hwy 20 to I-15 at Idaho Falls though we took a more circuitous route which would take us through Teton Valley, on the west side of the Tetons, and put us in prime cutthroat territory. So, much like day one, I found us a roadside stream where we could fish and hopefully bag another species.
We started off our trip with a stop at Trouthunter to load up on flies before the trip home. One thing I loved about the Yellowstone area was that there is no shortage of fly shops. Good fly shops too and Trouthunter, which was right down the road, might be the best.
Our next stop was Mesa Falls. This is definitely a must-see attraction for the area. The park surrounding the falls is a top notch facility and the falls themselves are very impressive. A short trail will take you right next to the falls and you can really feel the energy in the water and the chill in the air.
From one of Idaho’s scenic byways to another we then headed to Teton Valley to get a view of the Tetons from the west. According to our guide Derek while in the area we had to stop at the Victor Emporium for huckleberry milkshakes. When milkshakes are involved you don’t have to tell me twice, so we had to stop. I was curious about huckleberries anyway since it seemed people from Idaho were more obsessed with huckleberries than potatoes. They’re pretty darn good too, like little blueberries, they go great in a milkshake. What Derek didn’t mention was that the Emporium was also a fly shop! Thinking about it now, the Victor Emporium may have supplanted Trouthunter as the best fly shop for the Yellowstone area because milkshakes and flies go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Once we left Teton Valley and entered into the Snake River watershed it was time to find our feeder stream to fish. The creek was relatively flat, bordered by willows and had deeper sections where there were beaver dams. Fishing a hopper, it didn’t take long to for my fly to get that familiar bump from the smaller trout. Soon enough I hooked up with a little bigger cutthroat and had my first Snake River Finespotted Cutt.
After catching a few cutthroat I let Dad take the lead on the creek and I tried to help Mom get a fish. I think fishing these smaller creeks with regular tackle is actually tougher than fly fishing, but Mom refused to use my fly rod. She got a few follows at her spinner, fish just wouldn’t commit to it though. Dad ended up bringing one to hand, but it flopped out before we could get a picture, but I was glad he caught one.
The last cutthroat on the day for me didn’t look like the others, it’s spots were a little bigger and less profuse. I’m not 100% positive it’s a Yellowstone cutthroat, but according to my limited research the stream we fished did have both strains.
After a couple hours of fishing we hopped back in the car to make it back to SLC in time to meet my friends. They had the four of us over for dinner and really went out of the way laying out a nice spread and making us welcome. It was really awesome seeing my friends Eric and Sterling again, I was kind of bummed I didn’t get to make it to my 10 year reunion, so this was a good consolation.
A good bit of planning was involved in this trip and it was worth it because it ended up being a ton of fun. We saw so many new, awesome things, it’s hard to sum it all up. I felt we needed to do something big before having our baby in November and this was perfect. I’m already itching to go back out there, but next time I want to go after the Cutt Slam, hopefully I can find a fishing buddy that is up for the challenge.
One last note, I forgot to mention the cabin we stayed at in Last Chance was Kim and Mary’s Cabin. We really enjoyed staying here, it suited our needs very well. It is in the Last Chance area of Island Park, there is access to the Henry’s Fork right down the street and you have three fly shops within a mile. The cabin still looks brand new, it is in great shape, we were very comfortable there. Kim and Mary are phenomenal owners who will make sure that your stay in the area is all that it could be.