June 28, 2005 GMT

Our last day, and a day we had been looking forward to. Our appointment was to meet the guide at 8:30 in the morning “by a stand of cottonwood trees” down by a stream that joined the Snake River not far south of Jackson. After a few false starts, we found the right track (gravel, rutted, rough, not ideal Harley territory!) and headed off for what we hoped were cottonwood trees (another oversight on my part: I don’t know what a cottonwood tree looks like). Fortunately, we were also told he was driving a red Jeep, which I could recognise.

Andy, the guide, had waders for us, a couple of rod (both Sage!), plenty of cast material, sight bobs and, most important of all, a good selection of local flies. He told us that the favoured tactic was dry fly, but we were a bit early in the season, and early in the day, for much to be rising, so he recommended starting out upstream nymphing. The two main species we were likely to encounter were Cutthroat trout and Whitefish (something like Powan, looks a bit like a grayling without the big fin).

Andy took David in hand, and I went off upstream to see what I could do. I found a lovely deep run under my own bank, and the only way to fish it was upstream, which was a first for me. Casting up as far as I could and trying to strip line fast enough to keep pace with the stream was challenging. But almost immediately I got one take after another, missing plenty of them but hooking a few small whitefish. They gave good account of themselves on the light rod, but I really wanted a cutthroat. I kept moving upstream and I kept catching whitefish. Some of them were pretty fair fish, a pound or more I would guess, maybe 14 or 16 inches in length, great fighters. But still no cutthroat.

Our time with Andy was through to 12:30, and it was getting on that way, so I wandered downstream to find them and see how they were getting on. David had had less luck than me in terms of numbers, but he had had a small cutthroat. There were a few fish beginning to rise, and Andy had him fishing dry fly—a first for David. They were on the far bank, a few yards below where I was standing. Right opposite me, tight to their bank, what looked to be a good fish was rising repeatedly. I called to them and pointed out the rise. David moved up into position, made a good cast and first run down he was in! It was obviously a good fish, and made a strong run downstream and in towards their bank and some snags. David held on, tried to bully the fish, but the hook lost its hold. What a disappointment.


But I spotted another fish moving, just a few yards further upstream again. Again, David covered it with a good cast and he was in again. This time Andy was not going to let the fish get away and he jumped straight off the top of the bank into the waist-deep water to get it in the net. David played it beautifully and in next to no time it was in the net. A Snake River Cutthroat, according to Andy, and a good one at about a pound.

And that was the end of our time with Andy. He offered to lend us the tackle so we could go on fishing, and we took him up on the offer of the loan of only one rod, as we had carried a multi-piece fly rod of our own all the way from Rome and one of us could use that. But we decided to break for lunch and come back in the afternoon, fortified.

After a quick lunch in Jackson we were back out on the river, but this time without the waders, which limited us a bit. And on top of that the wind had picked up and the hatch of flies that had been building up earlier had disappeared altogether. We tried for an hour or so but without much conviction before we decided to call it a day.

Again, we had very different reactions to the day’s events. To me, it was the highlight of the whole holiday, the perfect way to end it, the icing on the cake and I was as high as a kite, especially as David had caught such a wonderful fish. But it left David feeling rather down, that it was the end of the adventure. Life is strange, isn’t it?

And that was about it. We went back into town, did another round of the souvenir shops in the hope of finding some bits and bobs to take back (which we did), then dinner and bed.

Posted by Paul Neate at June 28, 2005 05:27 PM GMT

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