Editor's note - This is the second part of this story, the second post... if you want to see how this story started, head on in to the forums... and enjoy.
We had fished this river two days ago and I had thought it was as pretty as any place I had ever imagined but after two to three inches of fresh snow fall it was not even in the same realm of beautiful it had transcended even itself.
We rigged in silence knowing the drill from our last trip and totally in awe of the scenery and visions spread before us. Sometime even those of us idiots who are to verbose for our own good know enough to just shut up and let the world before us speak with all of it’s glory, it was one of those days when you can’t help but tip your cowboy hat to the power and vision of GOD.
And yes for those of you wondering even with the temperatures and ice, the fish were still as good as ever … … in fact it was “fish on ice” kinda day.
Hope you found my cowboy hatted head in the reflection in the last picture. And yes that is a size 12 fishing boot in that last shot for comparison. And even more to the point … … yes you should be jealous … ... very jealous.
The late afternoon found me on a plateau above the river; which had risen and become cloudy with the snow melt runoff. But it was still beautiful beyond belief as I waited on my son to come find me and lead me out of the wilderness to the car. Never mind that I was pretty sure I knew exactly where the car was… … he didn’t want me wandering around “lost” and who am I to argue with my 24 year old son, but then again who in their right mind would ever argue with a 24 year old … … after all they are at their infallible and most confident self, and as a parent it was a pleasure to see my son in that role. So I simply flashed a few last pictures trying to burn the exquisite beauty of this landscape into my old feeble brain and waited on him to catch up to me.
And here is the picture that best sums up this whole trip for me. Sometimes we capture an image that captures our heart and this one speaks to me in ways that I can’t fully explain but I hope it speaks to you as well.
And at this point, the trip had far exceeded my fondest expectations and would forever rank as one of my favorite fishing trips of all time. I was so happy that I was practically floating … … or at least would be floating if it wasn’t for my fat ass body, which you may have noticed doesn’t float very well. The fishing brains of the group decided that we should fish the Thermopolis tail waters the last few days and chase the lure of big fish on small flies … … and who am I to argue with such a wonderful train of thought. The Wind River in this part of the country is pretty d**n rugged and scenic. There was a major cold front blowing through on the day we tried to wade fish the river. It was pretty and a few fish were caught but not many but with scenes like this I didn’t feel cheated at all.
With a little wildlife thrown in to boot, and as much as I would love to claim this photo as one of mine, it is actually one of Bernard’s, who can add master photographer to his list of talents as well as master fisherman, master rod builder, along with occasionally master not a very nice person as well.
That night the weather cleared, ice cold and crystal clear, and my son knowing me well realized that as much as I liked the bar room of the IRMA what I had really been missing was a fire by a river. So we arranged to have a last night spent by the banks of the river listening to a 20 thousand song ipod watching a cool crisp moon bath the rapids of the river with a moonlight glow rivaled only by the warmth of the red firelight that warmed our bodies. Moonlight, starlight and firelight are my three favorite lights but they paled in comparison to hanging with one of my best friends and most of all … … my oldest son. So yet again a trip that had been reaching new heights daily, reached yet again another high water mark and I still had one more days float trip to go.
The Morning dawned with a peaceful, easy feeling … … oh hey sorry was channeling The Eagles there for a second … … but it was a nice easy relaxing morning… … and I was possibly slightly hung over but we won’t talk about that will we.
Rick and I fished one boat; Rick rowing and me fishing, while Bernard and one of Rick’s guide friends fished another boat. I must admit I didn’t feel at all bad with Rick working his butt off rowing and me kicking back and enjoying the fishing. If the world was going to go through this “flip flop” that I had been observing for the last few days … … well wasn’t it right that I got the good end of the stick after all of those dad years and some of the scares this particular child had put me through. We managed to catch fish, mostly through the expertise of the guide not the prowess of the “sport”, but they were pretty nice fish non the less.
We actually caught a lot of fish. But I could tell we didn’t catch as many as my son thought we should catch. Part of his comparison was how good he knew this river “could and should” be and part of it was watching Bernard in the other boat just rake in fish with seemingly every cast. Rick finally broke the silence and volunteered “Dad I know you taught me to fish and for years I thought you were the best fly fisherman ever … … but … … you have got to slow your cast down, set the fly down on the water softer, and let it drift out of the strike zone before you pick up and do a better job of mending if you want to catch the really big fish.” I watched him to see if he truly caught the irony of those statements but soon realized that he was only doing his job trying to help a client catch more fish like he does 200 days a year. I felt a momentary blip of annoyance, but that was soon replaced with a pride in my son, he had become a not only a fly fishing guide for real but in fact a really good fly fishing guide and that was something I could respect as both a fisherman and as a dad. I was proud of my son and happy and in my soul to top it all off I had experienced a fishing trip for the ages … … one I will remember for many, many years to come. Thanks Bernard for your company and friendship and thanks Rick for hanging out with your old man, I can’t tell you how much that meant to me.
I will end with few pictures of fish a real fisherman can catch in Thermop with long distance multiple current cross mends and flies so small I can’t even tie them on. And yes I hate Bernard for his talent too.
I will add that life does provide all of the strangest and most interesting “flip flops” … … fuzzy irreverent and strange “flip flops” … … parents become the protected and children become adults… … so in closing I salute the fuzzy “flip flops” of life.
p.s. If this isn’t the quintessential Wyoming fishing guide I don’t know what is.