This fourth day of our vacation to the Grand Tetons in Wyoming started out pretty much like the other three preceding it. But as Jane and I were sleeping in our trailer, I was gently awakened by pressure on my leg at 6:00 a.m. As I peered down to the bottom of the bed I saw the big brown eyes of our golden retriever Poppy as she rested her head on my leg. I for her to “go to your bed” which she did immediately… “good dog”.
About an hour later I heard a gentle swish-thud, swish-thud, swish-thud and knew it was Poppy again. This time she was standing at our bedside wagging her tail and at the same time hitting the kitchen cupboard with said happy tail. I snorted something like Okay, Okay…I’m coming. That commenced our short ritual morning walk over to the inspiring overlook of Jackson Lake and with the fabulous backdrop of the Grand Tetons towering above the lake.
It was 10:00 a.m. that I finally pushed off my inflatable pontoon boat from the shore just below Jackson Lake dam onto the Snake River. It was a beautiful cloudless day to be fly-fishing. In only about a half mile I noticed some small splashes on the right side of the shoreline. With stealthful precision I guided my boat to the shore only to find a large back-eddy filled with foam. Most fly-fishers know the saying: “once you’ve found foam you’re home”. This would prove to be a truism today. There were at least 50 fish feeding on the insects entrapped in the foam. My job was to figure out which insects the fish were feeding on. Since I saw some small yellow mayflies hovering above the water where I launched the boat, I guessed the primary item on today’s breakfast menu for this pod of cutthroat trout would be Pale Morning Dun’s.
I was delighted to realize that I guessed right. Bang, a couple of fish with as many casts. Now in most cases that would have been a rich enough experience for a day of fishing. But the day was soon to continue to unfold.
Within fifteen minutes, as I was standing in the water working on my tangled fly-line, when I happened to look up just in time to see something in the river swimming right for me. It came to about ten feet from me when it suddenly saw me with a start. It was hard to tell who was more startled with our intersection him or me? He made an emergency course correction and floated about twenty feet down stream. At first I thought it was a beaver…no an otter…what, a coyote! Without any fanfare Mr. Wiley Coyote made his way to the shore as calmly as can be and preceded to perform a standard canine water shake-off like any other dog might do. After a quick glance at me off he trotted.
Wow, a back eddy with foam and fish galore, and now this friendly coyote. What could be better? Not three minutes later a large bald eagle (females are larger than males) flew about ten feet directly above my head and landed in a beaver “dam” about twenty feet up stream directly behind where I was casting into the eddy. What was that? Immediately she began rumbling inside the beaver dam and soon came up with a nice sized trout. Now that is a “fisherwoman”. Within moments of her tearing the fish apart and partaking of the sashimi feast, a large raven flew in. I expected a fight to ensue over the meal but the “baldy” had no problem sharing her bounty. Inspired by my new fine-feathered friend I decided to dive into my own tuna sandwich. I sensed a certain kinship in our lunch choices between we two fishers…both being bald and all.
I suppose it was about two hours after the first fish that I decided to make my way down stream on the beautiful Snake River. Along the way I saw myriad numbers of birds, including numbers of Canada Geese counting out cadence as they were making their way South. But it was near the end of the float that I began to hear a bull elk bugling. I couldn’t see him but the eerie sound got louder the closer I got to his position. It is the rut season and I hope he finds who his hungry genes are looking for.
All of this day’s activities were topped off with a magnificent dinner. While I am typically a catch and release fly-fisher, today, perhaps inspired by the bald eagle, I decided to keep two fish. There “aint nothing” like fresh trout frying. This was almost just too good of a day to be real.
But then I remembered that today (9/11/17) is the day that many Virgin Islanders and Floridians are awakening to a devastated life due to hurricane Irma. I am acutely aware that Yep It Has Been a Perfect Day…For Me, but not for a lot of other people, nor the fish that were taken today. My thoughts are with them all.
Thanks so much for the inspirational story. It reminded me of how much we have to be thankful for. Nature is such a wonderful gift which constantly reminds me of how great it is to be alive. Thanks again for your amazing story!
When I was young, my family would travel from Kansas every summer to a fishing camp in southwestern Colorado. My mother would cook on a wood burning stove in our cabin. Fresh rainbow trout rolled in cornmeal and fried in butter. Heaven. Thanks for stirring up the mememories.
Hah she knew how to do it right!!
It’s those special moments that make life real.