Slipping out of the hammock and taking in the view on the morning of day 4 was nothing short of spectacular.
After packing up the campsite and making the short drive through town to our destination, it was time to grab the rods and finish out our slam with a Yellowstone cutthroat.
It was pretty cool to have fished five different streams over the course of three days and what really stood out was that each had it’s own character. No two places we fished felt the same, which is a lot different than I can say for those small wild trout streams back in Georgia. The stream we were about to fish was no different – it had an entirely different look and feel. We had made our way through the Wyoming Range and were now in foothills of the Winds – and boy did we feel it. We parked in a pasture on top of a plateau and were greeted with a nice gust of chilly air.
We like to work our way upstream while fishing so we walked a bit downstream and began working an area where the river braided. I hooked up with my first fish on the back side of an island in some slower water along a cut bank.
It was a Yellowstone cutthroat and with that my Cutt Slam was complete! Now it was up to Blake to fool one.
Of course he had all day to do it, so I’m not ashamed to say that didn’t stop me from fishing and catching another one.
The river was gorgeous and at times had more of a desert feel than the previous streams we fished.
Eventually Blake was able to connect with a fish that was sitting right behind a big rock. As was the trend, it was a nicer cutty than the previous two I had caught.
The weather was beginning to look pretty rough so we headed to the car for a beer and lunch. As bad as it looked, it never really rained on us and we were back on the water shortly, though not before hearing the tale of “Big Lou” from another angler that was at the parking area. “Big Lou” was a cutthroat that this guy had caught when he first ever fished there with a guide. Apparently “Big Lou” had quite the reputation and lived under the big rock. We didn’t catch the name of Blake’s fish, so who knows, maybe it was “Big Lou” or maybe his kin? We kept fishing though and I caught another small one and missed a really nice fish – twice. He hit the dropper, then the hopper, on separate drifts, and I blew it each time.
Just to add insult to injury, while working the next run up, Blake hooked into a stud. Once we had the fish in the net we could tell it was the biggest of the trip. A beautiful, golden Yellowstone cutt. A few quick pics and then he was sent on his way.
I ended up catching one more little guy before we called it a day.
It felt pretty awesome to accomplish our goal. I think what I was more happy about though, and it really didn’t matter to me who caught the fish, was that we were able to catch what I considered to be above average versions of each species. It really validated all the planning that went into this trip. After a nice walk back to the car we headed back into town and ran into Marlow’s fly shop just to check it out and buy more flies we didn’t need.
With the slam complete, the next day was wide open for us. I had an idea of where I wanted to fish before I even started planning the trip, it was a place that I read about in a report on NGTO a few years back. The guy called it “Shangri-La” and it looked spectacular. I asked him about it back then and logged it in the back of my head in case I ever had the opportunity. It just so happened we had the opportunity this trip. It would mean a drive through the Absarokas and the Tetons, toward Jackson, which made sense for us as it put us closer to Salt Lake City and our flight home. It also would put us in prime Snake River cutt territory where I could hopefully upgrade from the dink I had previously caught this trip. It was a no brainer, so we hit the road – again.
With the Tetons shrouded in rain clouds we didn’t stop much for pictures. We kept on to our destination and made sure we could find the trailhead prior to setting up camp. The campground was starting to fill up, but we were able to find a few suitable trees and set up shop.
With camp set up Blake went to work on the nearby river and happily reported eight fish brought to hand, including a few whitefish, which we had yet to see this trip. This was our last night we would camp and according to the host, it was sure to be the coldest. With that in mind I set out to collect what meager kindling I could find. The host wished me luck and mentioned that she had collected everything in the area. She wasn’t lying either as this campground looked like a manicured garden – no deadwood in sight. Still I found enough to get a fire started (Blake had done a great job of this every other night) and purchased a bundle of firewood from her so that we could sustain it. The next day would be our last hurrah in Wyoming and I’ve got to be honest, I was looking forward to a shower and a bed that next night.