Guides trip 2016
Last weekend was one for the books. Our annual guide’s trip took place in Thermopolis Wyoming on the Bighorn and Wind river canyon. It was a party of epic proportions where fishing came second to floating a beautiful river with great friends. I was excited to drive the four hours with my good friend/fellow guide and mentor Tom Montgomery. Tom has lived an extraordinary life where his passion for photography and fly fishing have led him to remote corners of the world. Life is long and full of unique beauty and it is certainly important to stay extremely curious on all aspects of life and art and fly fishing and Tom has illustrated that at every turn. So we goofed off and chatted and drank coffee and stopped at the daylight donuts in Dubois and caught up on the finer details of guiding this summer. We drove past the Wind River mountain range and sighed in relief at the vastness of this great country. We drove past Crowheart mountain where a famous battle took place between two chiefs from the Shoshone and Crow American Indian tribes in 1866. According to legend, following a battle for hunting rights, the two chiefs agreed to a duel where the winner would gain hunting rights to the Wind River hunting grounds. Chief Washakie eventually prevailed and walked down the mountain with the Crow chief’s heart on a spear.
Time is not a concern while hanging out with Tom. I swear we stopped 5 times and only one of those was a pee break. He wanted to pull over to read an email, he wanted to stop and get another coffee, I made him stop to take a few pictures, all in all exactly how a road trip should go. Afterall, the journey is the destination..tell me how I’m wrong? When we finally arrived at our cabin on the river in Thermop we were welcomed by the other boys and cold beers. We were in no hurry to dump the boats as we were literally sitting in the grass in T shirt weather. Eventually though we did rig up rods and boats and packed the coolers and dropped the yachts in right at the cabin. Half the group was already as drunk as a hoot owl by now. I was lucky to start fishing with Tom Montgomery and Scott Smith. I bossed Tom around so much though, that he kicked me off of his boat to join the party boat with whiskey and loud music and not much fishing going on. I threw a fit and then realized I was OK with a cold beer and a party barge.
As the afternoon turned to evening we realized the much anticipated BWO hatch was not to be. It left us a bit dissappointed but by then we were full on into party mode and really enjoying ourselves. I managed to catch a nice rainbow that sipped a tiny emerger pattern close to the bank which was very rewarding. Eventually the boat ramp was in sight and darkness was falling. It was my job to make the elk burgers for everyone so when we got back to the cabin I immediatley got to work. Luckily I had pre pattied 12 jalapeño garlic burgers the night before so I elected Trey the big game hunter to light the grill and be in charge of the meat. Meanwhile in a drunken stopper, I managed to throw together a sriracha mayonnaise, cayenne pepper roasted potatoes, and a big delicious salad to feed 12 people! It was an epic feast that carried on way into the night. We lit the bon fire and listened to Waylon Jennings until the early hours. What an incredible night indeed.
For obvious reasons we were a bit slow getting started the following morning. We managed to find a delicious breakfast place called the Black Bear Cafe in town. After pots of coffee and a breakfast burrito we left for the river. After getting stuck behind a train we finally put the boats in the water around 1030.
We slowly made it to the boat ramp and the water was off color. We contemplated going somewhere else but it was already late so we just went for it. I jumped in the boat with Tom and Jeff. It was a tough day of fishing. The fish were tired. The sun was bright and we only caught a few fish that day. Currier started off throwing a double streamer rig while I tried streamers, nymphs and dries. I even threw a double worm rig at one point and couldn’t get them to eat. It was lousy. 11 of the best anglers I know of and me. We had a really tough day of fishing. Slowly the boats started to barge up together and before long we just started partying and throwing the occasional cast. It went something like this…
We got off of the river a little sooner than expected due to shitty fishing and no more beer. We left for the safari club which is a sort of tradition to have a few beers and play pool. Currier and I were on fire. We held the table for two hours while the other boys kept buying us beers and sulking in their own misery. Our fishing sucked but you should have seen us on that pool table! Johnny Irby was in charge of dinner that night so we made our way home and had slow cooked pork shoulder and cabbage wraps and stayed up way too late.
Our plan was to wade fish the wind river canyon on the third day. We started off breakfast at the same cafe again but after breakfast the group split up and a few had to get home early while Jeff, Tom, Neil, Scott and I decided to wade fish together. I was so excited as wade fishing this canyon is a great past time for me. It’s so unique in that you can literally just see fish sitting in their feeding lanes much like New Zealand. It’s truly the pinnacle of the sport for me. So we split up a bit and Scott and I waded together similar to last year. I have to admit it was a slow day in the canyon as well but we all caught nice fish. Jeff and Tom announced they were on their way home but stopped for a second to watch us land a few nice fish.
Overall it was of course a great weekend with great friends. I just think as fisherman we’re always wondering what could be better? Was it the unseasonably warm temperatures? Was it fishing pressure? Was it our lack of enthusiasm and too much beer?
As a fly fisherman I am an eternal optimist. I enjoyed the hell out of the weekend. It was a great guides trip and it was a great season! I’m ready for the traveling to begin!
Loved reading your blog. Thankfully you refrained from referring to me as a “legend,” which is just another (polite?) way of saying “has-been.” Sure, I’m heading in the direction of Geezerville, but I’d like to think I’m not there yet.
No mate … you’re all legends in the most positive way … nothing ‘over-the-hill’ about your team. Wish I could do that with you boys, slow fishing or otherwise. I’m seriously envious.
Great post Josh…..You guys define fly fishing(for me at least). Plan on seeing you next year.