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Monthly Archives: August 2015

Day 3 we woke up, packed up, drove by a better looking stretch of river that we didn’t fish last afternoon(the perils of having never been somewhere) and turned to head over another pass en route to our next destination and hopefully some Colorado River cutts.

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It was another scenic drive and we even got to see the tail end of a moose as he hightailed it through the woods, no doubt spooked by the rally-inspired driver of a rental Kia Sorento.

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This time instead of hitting the creek high up in the watershed, we went a ways down the road until we found a fishy looking pullover lower down on national forest land.  It was hard to see much of the creek from the road as it was being shrouded by vegetation, but what we did see we liked.  Deep undercut banks and lots of bends – this stream looked to cater to our style of fishing quite nicely.

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I swear, that feeling you get when you pull up on a place you’ve never fished and it just looks flat out gorgeous will never get old.  We suited up and hit the water and in short time Blake’s line was tight.  He caught a little one early to take that pressure off then followed it up with a brookie.

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I followed suit and caught a cutthroat of my own.

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One Colorado River cutthroat down and the pressure was off for me as well.  Blake caught another small fish, only this one looked a little different, more like the Snake River variety – maybe a cut-bow?

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The streak of small fish ended when I tied into a good cutthroat.  It was the fish of the trip for me up to that point and was a real treat on the glass 3wt.

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I’m not sure if I had even released my fish before I hear Blake saying he’s got one on in the next run.  I look up and see his 4wt glass rod doubled over and he is locked into a good battle trying to keep that fish from tucking back up under the cut bank.

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No time to celebrate my catch as I was quickly called  into action to net Blake’s beast.

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It was a beautiful fish, dark green on top and bright orange on the bottom.  You could tell this fish ruled the roost.  After back to back solid cutthroat we thought it may be about to turn on, surprisingly those were the last two cutthroat we caught out of this river.  The fishing did get hot, but not for cutthroat.  These guys took over.

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I went up to the car to get a snack and it was like someone flipped a switch.  Brookies in every hole.

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After a while we decided we had enough.  It was fun, don’t get me wrong, but that wasn’t the target species and we were starting to get hungry for lunch anyway.  Had those have been cutthroat, we may have stayed and fished all day – that’s how much we enjoyed that stream.  Nevertheless we headed into town, passing numerous large ranches on the way and a few pronghorn as well.

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It was nice to get into town, get a new ice chest, hit the local fly shop, top off the fuel on our ride and get a proper meal in our bellies.  The local brewery was the only logical place for someone like me to eat.  I was surprised to hear 12 beers to a flight was an option.

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Where else can you get a 12 beer flight for only $12?  You can’t beat that deal anywhere – Wind River Brewery in Pinedale made a fan out of me.  None of the beers disappointed and the burger was solid.  Sufficiently full we pressed on.  The plan was to camp and fish the Green that afternoon, but the clientele and windy weather at the campground we wanted to stay at convinced us to move on.  We decided we had enough time for the scenic route to Dubois and hit the road.

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Near the top of the pass we crossed over a creek in a meadow that was unlike any other we’d seen.  It was slow, with sandbars and a dark tannin stain on the water.  You could see that a considerable amount of cattle used it’s waters.  We considered moving on, but after watching the water from the bridge and seeing a fairly large trout on the prowl, we decided to stop and give it a go.  We wouldn’t have much time if we wanted to set up camp before dark.

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At a big pool, Blake and I split up, I took the left bank and he took the right.  Working our way from the back of the pool to the head.  It didn’t take long to figure out that I chose poorly.  Blake had a solid fish come up and sip his dry.  Kudos to Blake for not getting over anxious and pulling the fly from his mouth.  He played it cool and was rewarded.

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It was a beautiful cutthroat, dark, like the water.  My efforts to match Blake’s fish were futile.  The stream quickly changed character, added some boulders, became pocket water and we were running short on time.  All I could muster was a pair of brookies.

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It was a great stop, wish we could have stayed longer, but we had to get going.  It didn’t take long to make it to the National Forest boundary and find our way back to asphalt.

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We headed up the highway to the nearest campground and was surprised to finally see some other campers.  I guess that’s what happens when you camp off a major highway – on the weekend.  Still we were able to find a suitable campsite and manage to get set up before dark.  As was the case yesterday, another local was there to greet us upon arrival.

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We had 3 out of 4 cutthroat species needed to land the slam.  Tomorrow we would wake up and make our way down the road to fish for the Yellowstone cutthroat and hopefully complete our quest for the cutt slam.

After a cold night in the hammock, we got up early that morning, packed our stuff and headed on to our next stop.  I’m not sure what the actual temp was that night, but it felt like upper 30’s/low 40’s and I was under-dressed for it – it was the coldest night of the trip for me.  Lesson learned and the rest of the nights I was fairly comfortable in the hammock.  Using a fleece blanket as an insulating layer under the back was a life saver – the 35 degree mummy bag just wasn’t enough.

Our next stop was on a bit bigger water that we hoped would also hold bigger Bonneville cutthroat trout.

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It did not take long for me to upgrade my best Bonnie as one slurped a dry right next to the bank.

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Unfortunately that was the biggest on the day for me and one of few – not that I didn’t have opportunities, just that most of my fish either came unbuttoned or I pulled the fly right out of there mouth.  A much slower hookset was needed on these fish and I guess I was just too excited when I saw the slow eat.

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Blake fared much better and even had a local cheering section on top the hill.

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He took big fish honors on the day and it was great to both upgrade our Bonneville cutthroat.  Size doesn’t matter for the slam, but I had hoped we would each catch an above average version of each species.

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Satisfied, we called it quits after lunch and decided to make our way to our next stop where we hoped to catch our second cutthroat species, which is a mouthful to say, the Snake River Finespotted Cutthroat Trout.

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The first road we traveled to get to the Snake River Cutts was dicey at best and had us questioning our better judgement in at least one spot, but we made it through and onto a road that was better maintained and more frequented as it took us through the Tri-Basin Divide.

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Arriving safely at our destination definitely called for a cold beer and unfortunately when going to restock the ice chest I was a little overzealous, used a bit too much force with a few too many beers and we had our first tragedy of the trip.

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If we could make it through the night we would be able to get another ice chest the next afternoon.  You live and learn I guess.

We hit the river a bit high up in the watershed with the idea of knocking out the requirement, and the pressure of just catching one, with perhaps a smaller, more eager fish.  It worked for me, but not so much for Blake.

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A celebratory beer before they got too hot and we kept on further down the road.

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We stopped at a run that looked too good to pass up and Blake was able to quickly hook up on a decent fish.  Of course his first Snake River cutthroat would best mine, this theme continued throughout the trip – he had a knack for holding his mouth right.

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We continued to fish our way to where we planned to camp that night and in doing so picked up a few more small cutts.

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We called it a day before it got too dark on us and headed to the campground.  Once at the campsite we were greeted by one of the locals who graciously allowed us to set up in an adjacent site.  Day two was another success as we were on track to get the slam by catching two different species in two days.  We did hope to be able to upgrade our Snake River Cutthroat before the trip was over though.  In the morning we planned to head over the pass and fish a Green River trib. for Colorado River Cutts.  If we stayed on track we would have an opportunity to catch more Snake River Cutts on the last day of the trip, hopefully bigger ones too.

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I got a little taste of cutthroat trout fishing in Wyoming on my first trip to the state two years ago.  It was just fishing from the side of the road en route to Jackson, but it was enough to get me motivated to get back out there and try my hand at the state’s Cutt Slam program.

cuttslam_home_picWhat better way to experience the state of Wyoming than to try and catch it’s four native cutthroat species?  It didn’t take a whole lot of convincing to get Blake to come along – I think both of us have been looking for another trip out West since our trip to Rocky Mountain National Park back in 2012.

After a good six months worth of planning it was time to pack our stuff……

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and fly to Salt Lake City.  I had no idea Outdoor Retailer was this week, but several folks asked if that’s where we were headed.  No thanks, I’d rather go fishing.

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After a quick stop at Western Rivers Flyfisher it was on to Evanston.  Once there we made two more important stops – food/camp supplies and beer.

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Then we drove north.  On to the Wyoming Range, where we would hopefully have enough time to land our first cutthroat of the trip – the Bonneville cutthroat trout.

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In the interest of time we stopped off the side of the road, close to the same spot I fished back in 2012 and close to where we would be camping for the night.  We decided to fish some of the beaver complexes that looked pretty fishy from the road.

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We rigged our rods and got suited up lightning fast, the anticipation of catching the first fish of the trip was killing us.  The overcast skies started to drizzle rain, it didn’t take long to notice that fish rising in the ponds.  Blake was first on the board and fooled a decent Bonneville with a dry.

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It took me a little bit of time to knock the rust off, but I got on board as well.

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After that the fishing was on fire.  These Bonneville cutts were crushing a hopper pattern Blake had tied.

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The action was so consistent that it was tough to call it a day and walk back to the car, but we knew we still had to set up camp, which was not something we wanted to do in the dark – especially on night 1.

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It was a solid start to the trip though and felt really good to get the first cutthroat species under our belts. We’d actually be fishing for Bonnevilles again in the morning, but we were hoping the next stop would yield a few bigger fish.  For now it was time for cold beer and campfire and hopefully getting some sleep in a hammock system I’ve yet to sleep in.

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