This past week I was fortunate enough to have spent my time in the lovely state of Wyoming. I had only set foot there briefly once before in the town of Jackson Hole, merely passing through from Yellowstone National park, so my experiences were very limited. My home base for the week was to be the town of Sheridan while exploring a variety of locations to fish.
My primary focus for the visit was to join several other signature fly tiers of the Montana Fly Company (MFC) at the Flyshop Of The Bighorns for their first Spring Tying Clave. Some familiar names like Al Ritt, Juan Ramirez, Carl Pennington, Eric Ishiwata and Kelly Galloup rounding out the group in attendance. Not to mention, Lee Janik of Clutch Tactical Fly Rods was gonna be there showing off the line up of rods, as well as Jake Chutz of MFC.
The event itself was only going to take up the weekend, so fishing some new water was on the list of things to do. I flew in on the Wednesday prior to the weekend event, and was greeted by my host Peter Widener at the Sheridan Airport that night. After grabbing my stuff, I was quickly taken to one of his favorite local spots, the Blacktooth Brewery. It was a well needed stop as the flights in that day were rather troubling due to the high gusts of wind. At one point I am pretty sure my plane was coming in sideways for a landing. Luckily the brewery didn't disappoint, being a fan of Ambers more than the popular IPA craze these days, their Bomber Mountain Amber is one tasty brew. After a pint (or two) we called it a night and I am pretty sure I was sleeping before my head hit the pillow.
After breakfast I walked to the shop, and found myself poking around the aisles for the first time, and I can tell you that I was extremely impressed with what Peter and his staff have done there. The number of flies in house was mind boggling, never mind the consumer friendly layout of the store and the very large inventory of tying materials, rivaling many of the better shops that I have set foot in. When I got there they were putting together the new sign up front which was really cool to see first hand. After poking around the shop and getting a feel for the layout, I walked back to my hotel room, grabbed my gear and headed back to the shop where Peter and Clark Smyth took me fishing for the day.
After about a 45 minute drive through some of the most scenic valleys I have ever seen we arrived at our destination. The water we were fishing was what I would term smaller water, but they assured me was a false representation of the river as it was running at about 1/3rd of it's normal capacity. The fish didn't seem to mind though as we had quite the day picking them off on dry flies and streamers (my favorites). I couldn't tell you how many fish this little gem coughed up that day, but it was a very respectable number for its size, and the fish were pretty good sized as well.
We ended our day at a very good restaurant that was known for it's steaks and ribs, and sure enough I later found myself eating there 3 more times throughout the course of my stay. To say I slept well that night is an understatement, once again I think I was out before my head hit the pillow.
After a quick breakfast I was met at the shop by Matt Huckeba, a fellow streamer fanatic and frequent flyer at the Flyshop. Matt is actually a heck of a fly tier and fisherman, and was kind enough to take me out on some big water for a float trip for the day as Peter had to man the shop. Matt took me out to the Bighorn in Fort Smith, a river that I have fished before and had some tremendous success on, so I was fully aware of the potential for a great day. I was however realistic on the days expectations as the water like most in the area was pretty low for this time of year and the weather for the day was going to be very nice, so other boat traffic was going to be reality.
Although the day consisted of removing more weeds than fish from our lines, it was a glorious day to be on the water, and it was great to reconnect with a piece of water that I was missing for some time. Although the weeds were more than a problem, we still managed to boat a solid couple of handfuls of trout. Even though the fishing wasn't lights out, the company and scenery was second to none. I truly look forward to fishing with Matt again as he is definitely a fishy dude and a great guy as well.
We finished our day back at the shop where we all rallied for pizza and beer and discussed the game plan for the weekend's event. It was probably one of the highlights of the trip believe it or not, as there was not only some great discussions on fly design but also some shenanigans as always amongst the crew.
The first day of the tying clave was a very nice relaxed but busy day in the shop. We had several separate tying stations positioned throughout the shop and people were stopping by to watch us all tie and ask questions. Blacktooth Brewery was on hand with a nice selection of their brews as was Qdoba who put on a great spread of Mexican style food.
There was a great buzz throughout the shop all day and it was a blast to say the least. As the day wore on, they ran a 2 hour live feed showing a segment of all the tiers as we talked and tied our way through a pattern or two. Later that evening we all met down the street for the Flyfishing Film Tour, which ended up being a rather good one I might add. The raffle at the intermission was really good and some lucky folks walked away with some really awesome prizes.
The second day of the tying clave was a little more subdued but still equally as fun with a steady stream of people coming through all morning. The day was cut short and we all used the rest of our time to find some water. I was lucky enough to share the water with Zach from the shop and Lee from Clutch, and we had quite a good go of it. In fact, I think we enjoyed ourselves a little too much as I went back to the hotel that evening with a headache from laughing so hard. We actually had some fun at Zach's expense, you see, he's a good Russell Brand look alike and we had some people believing we were fishing with the actor. I'll leave our shenanigans at that as the remainder of our laughs are probably better off left unsaid.
We ended up catching a few nice fish on dry flies, nymphs and low and behold streamers. And the weather was absolutely fantastic once again. The best part about it was we had the river to ourselves, which in my book is the best part of it all, well aside from rising fish.
The day was capped off with a great dinner at the restaurant I mentioned earlier, in fact the Buffalo Rib Eye steak that I had was amazing. Most of the crew was leaving the next day for home, or had already left after the tying event earlier that day, so the next couple of days I was going to get some really cool opportunities.
After breakfast I met Clark at the shop around 9:00 A.M., and he promised to take me on a bit of a road trip around the area for the day. Clark has actually been guiding the area for over 15 years and has some access to some pretty awesome pieces of water. We started our trek onward and ended up on one of the ranch properties that Clark and his guides utilize every year.
When I set foot on the ranch I felt like I had gone back in time as we meandered through the property that was dissected by a creek so small you could walk across it, yet it was teaming with trout, most of which you could easily see. Clark reminded me often this day that in the summer when the grasses were much higher, the hopper fishing can be nothing short of fantastic. I quickly thought of what that would be like walking up and down the banks of this particular stream fishing 2x tippet and launching size 2 foam creations into the water only to be met with vicious takes.
This you see was the common theme at every place that Clark took me, beautiful scenery, no other fisherman and creeks full of trout. It is pretty safe to say that I will be back out in Wyoming after this day, and I plan on bringing some others there to experience exactly what I had the pleasure of seeing firsthand. Plan on seeing more information about this trip in the near future.
I guess when it comes to bigger fish, it's nice to save the best for last. The last day of my trip did not disappoint and the people with whom I was lucky enough to share it with made it even better, the fish were the icing on the cake. Peter along with noted fly tier Brett Smith took me to some very picturesque water on my final day. We had some great conversations, a stream side lunch, and covered some great water with some very nice fish to hand.
The laughs on the drive home were worth the price of admission, but the scenery at this particular river left me feeling really small. You see, when you fish in a canyon all day, you can't help but realize just how small you are in this world. The experience is something I think everyone should feel at least once in their life, as it is quite the humbling experience.
Although it was a fantastic trip, all good things must come to an end, and I missed my family dearly. I long for my next trip when I can share these wonderful places with my two girls as I know they will enjoy it as much as I did.
Once again I want to thank everyone for bringing me out to the lovely state of Wyoming and showing me a piece of their heaven. For now, I have to get back to my vice and continue cranking out bugs. You see, the online fly store is live once again and as I had figured would be the case, the list of fly orders is running deep. Stay tuned for a new link on the website, but for now you can check it out HERE.
In a couple of hours I will be boarding a plane to head west for what looks to be a great get away. Saturday and Sunday this weekend I will be tying and talking shop with a bunch of other fantastic tyers at the Flyshop of the Bighorns first Spring Tying Clave. Of course there will be some fishing involved during the rest of my stay and I shall have a post up on my return detailing the same. On another note, I have a full stock of scud dub back in stock and will process any orders when I return. Also, stay tuned for some other exciting news as I expand my list of tying materials and other cool things for you to purchase. Webstore will be back up very, very soon.
As a result of the classified caddis pupa chapter in the book, I have fielded several questions in regards to the construction of the dubbing brushes that I use to build that particular series of nymphs. Well, to take out the guesswork I spun up this little video showing exactly how I make them. Oh, and if you watch the video in it's entirety, you'll see an updated color of that simple scud I like to tie. So grab a beverage, sit back and enjoy this one.