From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 3, Number 29 - 8/19/99
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Floatin' the River

"Am I having fun yet?," I wondered to myself as the wind blasted our drift boat back up the river and the rain B.B. gunned down on us through our rain gear.

Our Pro Fishing Guide (PFG), Robin Grigg, was waging a valiant war against the wind and the waves curling up the river at us. I watched her as she stretched forward to take maximum advantage of the oar stroke and then reared back against the force of the wind to pull the paddles through the water. The boat would move down river a few inches, with the wind battling back a foot. I was all for pulling over and waiting it out. PFG Robin shouted over the storm that she didn't think it was going to let up and we had to get through the nasty stretch of water sometime.

John Ross of Two Rivers Emporium had invited me to go fishing on one of his guided trips the year before. The only condition was that I had to "fly fish"; no spin casting allowed. Since I had never tried fly fishing, I was a little leery of his offer. He was quick to reassure me that he only employed "experienced guides," and whoever was lucky enough to get me would also give me a lesson on the intricacies of fly fishing.

I arrived at John's store early. He told me that my guide would be Robin, and that a "gal" from Colorado would be with us, too. Then he checked out my equipment and suggested I borrow a rod from him, as mine was too short. My rod was actually my husband's pack rod that he carried into the mountains.

Soon Robin and the "gal" from Colorado arrived. Robin drove us to the bridge just before Daniel where it crosses the Green River. John has an agreement with the landowner for putting in on their property. Each party that puts in at their access pays a fee to the landowner. Then during the day, the shuttle service shows up and shuttles each vehicle and trailer to the takeout access, again a fee to the landowner. Pretty slick! No fuss, no muss!

Robin explained the basis for a dry fly cast. You begin by stripping off enough line to get the fly to where you want it to be. Then you keep your right wrist straight, bend your elbow, hold the rod just above the reel, grab the line with your left hand, and rear back on the rod to two o'clock while bringing your left hand down to your left hip, count to three and whip forward with the rod to ten o'clock while releasing the line in your left hand. With any luck, your fly will land in a fishy spot. Then you let your fly float along to tempt the monster trout swimming just under the surface. When your fly starts dragging a water trail, you start all over again.

Sounds easy, but I discovered in a very rapid way, that it isn't. I had absolutely no coordination at all! If my casting wrist stayed straight, my left hand wouldn't move. If I got the left hand right, I drew my right hand back too far. If I drew back to two o'clock, I'd caste forward to seven o'clock. If I had a good release, I would forget to put my fishing finger on the line.

PFG Robin was patient and started giving me tips. "Just pretend there is a sheet of glass in front of you and it will break if you hit it. Don't break the glass!"

Then I would forget to count to three, so she would tell me to draw back and say, "Fishing with Dave." (Dave is also a fishing guide; that's his line.) Pretty soon I was fishing with Dave and breaking glass all over the place.

I was in the front of the boat so Robin could coach me. I had my fly drifting along a promising looking bank, when bang! a fish came up and took my fly. I just stood there. I was waiting for the tug on the line. Nothing happened. I looked at Robin with a question mark on my face. She just laughed at me and told me to pop my rod tip up when I saw a fish take the fly. This was really weird fishing!

Just then a yell came from the "gal" in the back of the boat! "I see a Paddle fish!" Man, things started happening. I reeled in to help bring in whatever the hell a Paddle fish was. PFG Robin leaned into the oars to back us up to the Paddler. Eli, the "gal" in the back of the boat, had the net out and was fighting the current for a good angle on the big black paddler lying on the bottom of the river. Robin maneuvered the drift boat to a position just forward and to the left of the paddler. With extreme care and the hand of an expert, Eli snagged the paddler up to the boat. We all oohed and aahed over it and then broke out into gales of laughter at our "catch of the day." We had snagged a $200 Cataract rowing oar.

As we drifted along casting flies along the banks, I asked Eli how she recognized the paddle lying on the bottom of the river. She grudgingly admitted to having guided a few fishing trips, herself. Robin pointed out that Eli had been a contender in several fishing tournaments and was somewhat of a pro flyfisher lady.

I finally caught a small fish. It shook off the hook just before it got to the boat. We were catch and release fishing. I tried to make it look like I planned to release my fish by whipping my pole around and screaming that I had caught a "big one"! I don't think I fooled either one of the girls. They both were wearing little grins and winking at each other.

The rest of the trip was a lot of fun. I had a couple more fish roll near my fly, but none of the fish took me very serious. By the afternoon the weather was getting pretty bad, and the fishing kinda stunk. We all philosophized about the reasoning behind the fishing conditions. I was convinced it had something to do with the solar eclipse happening in Europe. Robin thought it was because the rain in the mountains had the river all muddied up.

By the time the weather got really bad, I was ready to be done fishing. Eli and I were hunkered down in our rain gear, and Robin was humping along at the oars. Eli looked really cold in her yellow rain gear with a scarf and hat pulled down over her ears. She'd broke her rod down and was just hanging on. Robin looked like she was plenty warm.

Most men would have broken down and cried or at least whimpered a little. Robin never turned a hair. She just kept at the oars. Pretty soon we rounded a bend and could see the truck and trailer waiting for us.

I had a lot of fun, a little fish, and really great company. Two Rivers Emporium knows what they are doing. My biggest worry of the day was trying not to break any imaginary panes of glass. When we got back to John's shop, he was very happy to see us. The weather had him concerned, but he knew we were safe with Pro Fishing Guide Robin!

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Copyright © 1999 The Sublette County Journal
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The Sublette County Journal, PO Box 3010, Pinedale, WY 82941   Phone 307-367-3713
Publisher/Editor: Rob Shaul