Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Springtime in Wyoming

Last Thursday, May 10, 2012, it was 75 degrees at noon. It was the perfect May day. Scott Sawtelle was flying into Sheridan today for a couple days of fishing. I was excited to take some time off work and replace it with rising trout and warm spring days. 

By the time I left for the airport at 1:00 PM to pick up Scott, the blue skies and wispy clouds were being quickly erased by a dirty horizon. A hard wind pushed at the newly leafed-out trees and flattened the winter bleached grasses that towered over the new growth. By the time Scott arrived, the temperature had dropped 20 degrees and an hour later it was 43 degrees. We got to the river a bit before 4:00 and stepped out into a melee. Scott and I huddled behind my car to rig rods as 40 mph winds forced us first to choose fleece, then opt for fingerless gloves and finally pull on winter hats. I thought it might snow soon as there seemed no end to this fast moving cold front.

I had to will my fingers to tie on the big stonefly dry that I wanted to use in hopper/dropper system. Without rigging up completely, we bailed off the river bank and dropped into the willows hoping that this might help cut the wind. It worked a bit although we still struggled mightily to control our fingers as we tried to tie on bead-head droppers. It seemed absurd to try to fish in these conditions. This was November weather, not May.

Unbelievably, as we kneeled under the willows, we noticed a few baetis popping up. Even more amazing, trout were rising in the small micro-slicks that remained after the scouring the runs were taking by the wind. The fishing proved to be outstanding although extremely difficult with numb fingers and slow-as-molasses reaction-times. Turning over leaders was tough in the wind and without being able to consistently separate flies from fly lines we put down some big trout... but the results were worth the effort. Gale force winds, sub-zero wind chills and shivering bodies somehow translated to enough twenty inch brown trout to make us willing to endure a bit more... ahhhh springtime in Wyoming.

We planned to fish the Bighorn the following day! Obviously optimism reigns supreme with me and Scott!

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