Trolling for flies

Twenty years ago B.C. (before Cass), Jim and I were newlyweds who climbed mountains, drove to neighboring states for a lunch of burgers and beers at a favorite bar, and fly-fished in cold mountain streams. We had a lot of energy, and definitely knew how to have a good time.

Then we had Cass. We took turns working, so that Cass never had to be with a sitter or in day care. Our disposable income vanished. Our somewhat adventurous life quieted to a milder tone, as we tried to be responsible parents, to Cass and his older brother Justin, who stayed with us in the summers.

We took Cass for his first camping trip when he was three months old, into Wyoming’s Red Desert, sleeping in the sand dunes. Cass discovered his natural habitat early – anywhere outside, in Wyoming.

We also started ranching about the same time, around 3 A.C. (after Cass), so we started staying close to home. Our outdoor recreational gear stayed in the shed, rarely used. Our North Face packs, Chouinard and Black Diamond climbing gear, half a dozen sets of telemark skis, high-altitude stove and tent – all awaiting the chance to return to use.

As Cass grew, we introduced him to each sport. Soon he was camping on his own, so our tent and sleeping bags were some of the first equipment to go. Snowshoes, gone.

After a few seasons on the ice, we introduced Cass to downhill skiing. The hockey gear found a new home with some other child, and Cass began consuming at least a pair of skis every year – first the “old-school boards” from the shed, then a new pair of twintips every year. The downhill ski addiction was soon accompanied by the need for the backcountry winter trips – so the high altitude stove and backpacks were no longer resting in the shed, waiting for our return.

A few summers ago, Cass asked about rock climbing. We took him out and had a wonderful day re-learning our old sport. Of course our climbing rack soon went on climbs in Colorado and Utah, without us parents who had worked to collect such fine gear.

Cass received his first gun in the year of 5 A.C., and has been a shooter ever since. He has his own collection, and “borrows” firearms from the ranch as the need arises.

Somewhere along the line, Cass became a fisherman. A few winters ago, he and his dad spent evenings tying flies. Cass is now out on his own, and wets a fly line at least once a week during seasons with open water, and even ice fishes now and then.

The other afternoon, Jim and I went to feed the guardian dogs and check on the sheep herd. It was a beautiful, slightly overcast day, and we walked down to look at the New Fork River, which serves as one boundary for our sheep pasture. We were met with the sounds of splashing – there were at least three trout breaking the surface at once in a feeding frenzy. My hands had never itched for a fly rod so badly. The trout weren’t especially big, but they were very active, making a noisy ruckus as they rose after the fly hatch hovering at the surface. It was magnificent.

Jim and I raced to the house to search for gear, and I swear I could smell the fresh cornmeal-dipped trout frying in my cast iron skillet. Our gear search netted us one fly rod, one reel, and no flies. My small and handsome black box of beauties had gone away to join the unappreciative tackle box of a teenager. We had nothing – none of my favorites, the tiny renegades. No elk hair caddis. No light cahills. No royal wulff. No olive hares ears. So sad. My box of treasures was gone.

Jim and I are recovering from that trauma, but part of the recovery process has been the realization that all of our really fun stuff has walked out the door with our children. Well, they are adults now, so it’s our turn for the good times once again. All we need are some enablers.

Please, dear readers, have pity on the flyless anglers. If you feel for our tale of woe, drop me a fly in the mail. We promise to attach it to a worthy fly rod and take it for a dip. I may even post some photos and stories of our angling adventures.

The flyless anglers may be reached at: The Urbigkits, P.O. Box 1663, Pinedale, WY 82941. And thank you, fellow wetliners, for your help.

Sunrise in the Upper Green

I wanted to catch the early morning light in the Upper Green River region of western Wyoming, north of Pinedale this weekend. I was lucky enough to recruit my son Cass and our neighbor and friend Haley for the adventure. The mountain on the right in the photo above is Square Top (about 11,600 feet), and on the left is Osborn Mountain (about 11,800 feet), in the Wind River range.

It was 25 degrees with a thick frost – conditions were beautiful. Cass couldn’t resist taking a dip with the fly rod.

Cass had to share the water with the residents of the neighborhood.

The sun came up over the top of the mountains and burned the frost and mist off quickly, giving rise to another beautiful fall day in Wyoming.

A sleepy but happy Cass.

Haley enjoying the first rays of light from the banks of the Green River.

A Little More Sporting Heritage

I owe my father for, at a minimum, a love of reading, art, and natural history, and for the practice of keeping pigeons. But as regulars know he also passed on a love for sport and a taste for barely affordable expensive shotguns (I have published his 1954 pic with his Winchester Model 21 “Heavy Duck” double before, but will repeat below).

I have had less opportunity to follow him in such things as saltwater angling. But here he is on the cover of a 1957 Saltwater Sportsman (still in business, with its logo virtually unchanged!), off Green Harbor Mass, where I lived many years later. As I said recently to a correspondent, one of the delights in culling and shifting ones’ possessions and library is all the good forgotten stuff you find.

Below, Joseph Angelo Bodio with M21 and black duck, Concord River Mass, 1954.