“Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
Why do people become obsessed with fishing? When it is catch and release, as it is along the Snake River in Wyoming, it is clearly not for sustenance. So, what then is the lure? Greg is an avid fisherman. In fact, he has shared his passion for trout fishing in the marshes of Louisiana with me. Now, I suppose you could say that I too am a fisherman. But, rod and reel fishing is different than fly fishing. Ever since I read “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway, I have had a desire to stand along the banks of a stream casting a fly rod hoping to snag a nice trout. Although we are not in Hemingway’s Spain (and mine too as you will learn if you continue to follow my writing), Jackson, Wyoming presented me with the perfect chance to experience fly fishing firsthand. I am not ashamed to admit that I was slightly terrified of becoming wrapped up in the fishing line. I am happy to report that I boldly faced my fears and gave it an old college try in the name of checks on my bucket list!
I quickly learned that fishing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming is a magical experience. We had booked a full day guided fishing trip with Jackson Hole Anglers. Our guide, Mac (he was a great guy even though he went to Bama….Geaux Tigers!) picked us up from our hotel with the drift boat in tow behind his truck. We made our first stop at Orvis to pick up fishing licenses ($15 for one day) and a few extra flies. These flies are seriously the coolest things. They make them from thread, feathers, other materials so that from the fish’s perspective they look like a yummy bug. Mac, our guide, said that he spends time during the winter months working on his flies. He has a Louisiana fishing trip planned where he will try to lure some redfish with crab pattern flies!
Once we were legal, we headed toward Wilson, Wyoming to launch the drift boat. These boats are specifically designed for fly fishing in the rivers out West. They are lightweight, extremely maneuverable boats that can handle up to Class III whitewater. Good thing since we hit a few patches of rapids during the day! Each boat holds two fishermen plus a guide.
We spent the day floating down the Snake River, watching bald eagles soar overhead and casting to rising trout along the way. At first, I just sat back with my camera in hand and enjoyed the breathtaking scenery. I listened intently to Mac’s instructions to Greg as he worked on perfecting his casting. After Greg had caught a few of the native cutthroat trout, I set my camera down, held my breath, said a little prayer that I didn’t “become one” with the fishing line, I made my first cast with a fly rod. Wow! It was easier than I thought! The objective was not to cast far, but it was to hit the spot where the water looked fishy – often directly aside the boat. With a bit more confidence, I made a second cast making sure to mend the line upstream after the fly hit the water. Cast then mend, and mend again and again; then repeat. This was becoming almost natural for me, and then it happened – I had a fish on the line! It took me a second to register what exactly I was supposed to do – thankfully I had both Mac and Greg coaching me along. After a brief fight, I pulled in a nice white fish. That was exhilarating!
We had fished hard for at least 4 hours before we pulled onto a bank of the river for lunch. Mac set up a nice table complete with tablecloth and chairs to serve us a wonderful meal as we soaked up our surroundings. The menu on this day was fried chicken, pasta salad, King’s Hawaiian Rolls, and chips. I was content. Greg was a happy camper too! How could you be anything but at peace in these surroundings? The rhythm of casting the fly rod was almost meditative. I didn’t want our day long trip to end, but the fish really were not biting in the afternoon. It was an ideal time to call it a day – what a great one it was! I have already started planning our next fly fishing expedition to Montana next year. Now, I can say that I understand the lure of fly fishing.