The television weather report the evening before our planned fishing day was discouraging: thirty mile an hour winds, sixty percent chance of rain, dropping temperatures of over twenty degrees, possible hail, and lightning! I can handle all of it except the wind and lightning. Casting a fly in wind is not something I have on my favorites list.
So, we changed to plan B. We already had a plan B figured out because we (my bro-in-law, nephew and me) are seasoned outdoors men. Plan B was to bag the two hour drive into Wyoming and hit the closer waters around Logan, Utah. Plan B found me sitting on a half submerged rock on the edge of the Logan River. I'm waiting for Jer (bro-in-law) and his son Matt (my nephew) to work their way upstream to my position. I move up river quick. I hit every spot that is likely to hold a trout and after a few drifts, I move on. It's part of my nature. I read the water like it's a children's book, it's a fast read most of the time, unless, of course, there is a good hatch going, and trout working the surface, then I move slower.
I placed my fly rod on my lap and bowed my head and closed my eyes. The water here is riffles and pockets. I can hear it as it bumps, turns and swirls around the uneven bottom and boulders. It's a nice sound; it's sound I have been around most of my life. It's a nice day. I'm glad to be here. It's good to be out. The sun has cleared the eastern peaks. I take off my cap and let the sun hit my head and face. It feels good.
I glance upstream and see Jer. He moves down to where I'm sitting. I stand and move toward him like two old friends who are meeting again after years of separation. It's only been a half-hour since we parted upstream. Smiles are exchanged and fishing reports shared. It hasn't been the best of mornings for catching. Matt soon arrives and we decide to drive into Logan for lunch and then drive over the border into Idaho to hit a stream.
After stopping to pick up an Idaho fishing license, we drive up Cub River canyon. The lower stretches of the Cub contain Bonneville Cutthroat and is similar looking water to the upper reaches of the Logan only smaller in size and volume of water. We decide to pass the lower stretches and see what trout we would find in the upper stretches near Willow Flat. It is a beautiful area bracketed by high mountain peaks and backdrops of thick forested slopes of shadow-hidden pines. The stream meanders through the flat and its flow interrupted by several beaver dams. It is clear with deep undercuts at every turn. Small jewels of brook trout are caught. The orange-rust bellies brilliant giving way to the crimson spots outlined in blue halos. The backs mottled with worm-like patterns of olive and brown. The tips and leading edge of the fins are outlined in pure white. They are handsome fish. They are small and wild; their only shortcoming is that they are not native to the area. Still, they are welcomed.
From Willow Flat over to highway 89 in Logan Canyon is about 16 miles of dirt road. We decide our course is to drive the dirt road, stop for one last fishing spot in Franklin Basin and then drive back to Bear Lake on 89. Jer is at the wheel. He starts the climb out of the flat and before we know it, we were on long straight run of dirt road heading toward the basin. Jer hits the gas and we are flying along at about 55 miles per hour. I've ridden dirt roads with Jer before, some with white knuckles and the fear of death in my soul, but I have to admit, he has mellowed with age just a bit.
Franklin Basin fishes well for us. Small cutthroat in the eight to ten inch range are plentiful with an occasional twelve or thirteen inch fish caught. I'm able to turn one that looked to be a spawn hold-over that might have gone sixteen inches. It is a fun area and Matt and me play a little game of fly fishing baseball. The rules are simple: first fisher casts into a likely spot. If he hooks up with a trout and brings it to hand, it's a home run and the next fisher is up. If you cast and miss a fish, it's a strike. If you get three strikes, you are out and it's the other person's turn. Matt wins the ballgame with more home runs and the biggest fish.
We finally meet up with Jer and end our fishing day. I have not had the opportunity to spend a whole day with Jer and Matt for some time. It was a real pleasure fly fishing with them and just hanging out. I'm blessed to have them in my life. I love them and would do anything for them.
Small, beautiful brook and cutthroat trout, the beauty of sparkle-clear water, stream bottom rocks, wild flowers, vistas, sun (especially with reports that it wouldn't be sunny) and the quiet sound of serenity found in the woods are the jewels of the trip. Spending time with those I love the treasures.
You would think all the fly fishing is the highlight of the day. But I learned a very good lesson on this trip. I have to learn to put things in perspective. That is hard for me. I am driven by passion for certain things and I have to sometimes slow down, take a step away, look at the situation, and then see the whole picture.
It's funny how the highlight of my weekend fly fishing trip turned out to be something other than catching a bunch of beautiful trout in an amazing setting. The most significant event happened somewhat unexpectedly. It is something I will remember. As we were getting ready to leave for home, I was able to take my sister in a full embrace (something I have never done) and tell her happy birthday. I then told her, "I love you." I fought back the tears that were welling---hers flowed a little more freely. I wonder if she was aware I noticed. What an awesome moment. The beautiful trout, the streams, the mountains are the small jewels. The relationships and expressions of love are the unexpected treasures. I sit here now wondering what is happening to my heart?