Trip of a Lifetime—4 years ago–and procrastinating journal entries..

Wow…so I keep a journal of all of our fishing adventures (or misadventures at times)… four years ago I went to the Henry’s Fork for a “ladies trip” and life got so busy afterwards, that I never got a chance to “pen it out”. It is so fun going through looking at the pictures to refresh my memory…and writing about it. What an amazing trip and an amazing place! This September I will finally be returning to that part of the world with Brian Davenport in tow—I can’t wait till he see’s it down there! He won’t want to come home!! It’s been almost four years since that trip, and I haven’t gotten to see the ladies as much as I would like–due to distance and being in BF Idaho—but I will meet up with one of them this Fall and cannot wait! Two FULL weeks of vacation to fish our hearts out!
So here I am…world’s worst procrastinator when it comes to writing things down… 

4 years ago, I went on an amazing trip of a lifetime with a bunch of ladies that I had never met before!  I had met Michelle online through an Idaho fishing Facebook page.   A group of ladies was getting together for a long weekend on the Henry’s Fork—and I was invited.  Brian gave me the go ahead—even though this is a place he has always wanted to go—but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.   For a minimal price, we would share a cabin and Shelly (who worked for Adipose at the time, would get drift boats situated so we could float the river).   So I  decided to leave out from work on Thursday at noon.  Thinking I would “overnight” camp in my rig in Montana.   This is the first time I have ever “road tripped” by myself—it was so hard driving up the Lochsa and not fishing.
It was so hard driving up the Lochsa—and not getting to fish it—arrrghh! But I had a bigger goal in mind.  I was hoping to coyote out and get up early and make the rest of the drive to West Yellowstone in the AM to meet Emily.   So…. Campgrounds in Montana are friggen expensive… so I just kept driving…and driving… finally it was dark and I was extremely tired and decided I just wasn’t going to make it all the way to West Yellowstone that night.  I ended up getting a room in a Motel 6 somewhere in Montana. 
I got up super early the next morning to finish the drive.  I still had many miles to go—and I was to meet Emily at Bud Lily’s super early, so that we could fish in Yellowstone National Park some, before we met up with the other ladies.    I finally arrived in West Yellowstone—and got my fishing license.  Kerry was taking us out to a place and fishing with us for a bit.   When you go through the West Entrance…it is just up the road a ways.   It was literally 32* out—I didn’t know it was going to be that friggen cold—but we tough it out for fishing.   That morning, there was a fog all around— for my first “taste” of Yellowstone—it sure was creepy.   I kept expecting to see a bear emerge from the fog…but we never did see one.  Kerry gave me some pointers on how to nymph fish (arrgggh—I’m used to dry flies and cutthroat!!).   I ended up hooking one (just a lil one) but damint it was my first fish in Yellowstone NP! And I was ecstatic!

Kerry had to leave (probably to go guide someone) so Emily and I moved farther into the park.  We stopped at a place suggested by Kerry- the backdrop was amazing!  There is something really special about YNP.  It is so pristine (well, other than the gobs of people)—and so much wildlife!  

We saw some elk grazing alongside the road.   We fished this spot and damnit if I didn’t think I hooked into a huge brown.  I finally got it in…turned out it was a huge whitey!!!  Which was a first for me—so that was pretty cool too!  

We decided to head back to the place we had fished that morning… but we missed the turn off and ended up outside the park.  When we tried to turn around and get back in, we weren’t able to due to a terrible head on collision.  

Trace?  is that you???  Traffic was backed up a ways–we thought it was due to wildlife “gawking” turns out it was a pretty bad accident….
Thankfully, Emily knew another spot north of there that we could fish.  We drove along the highway, and she pulled into a turn off alongside the Gallatin River.   It was very brushy so I was concerned about bear…and was really hoping we didn’t run into one.  We fished this for awhile—it was a nice small sized section, and I caught a beautiful cutthroat! 

Finally, it was time to head towards Island Park and locate the cabin that we had rented.  After a phone call or two to Aileen—we finally got the address and made our way there.  This is where I got to meet all of the ladies.  Most of them were familiar with each other and had fished together before, at some point.  I was probably the only “newbie”.  They were all such great women, and solid fly fishers.  It was great to be in their company.

“Home” for the weekend

Now this is where the timeline starts to get shaky—as I remember what we did—just not exactly the order…since it was  4 years ago…
I believe the next morning, we stopped at Trout Hunter to meet up with all of the drift boats and get any last minute supplies.   Our first stop of the day was the Harriman Ranch.   I imagine the folks that were already fishing there, thought holy hell what the heck are all these women doing here!  We spread out and got to fishing.  If memory serves correct, the only one that hooked into one was Heidi.   I had a bump on a Black Betty fly… but that was it.  The gentleman that was down from me hooked one—and he was nice enough to share the knowledge that once you wade out—to be sure and look behind you, as they “fill in” and start feeding between you and the shore sometimes.  We also saw some Pelicans—which was just neat.  It was a really windy rainy day though—I look forward to fishing it in some nicer weather.

Photo credit to Michelle Babcock (if memory serves correct)

From there, we headed towards Warm River, as we were doing the Warm River to Ashton Float.  We stopped at this one spot that had a ton of huge football shaped fish!  You could wade or fish there, but it was really neat seeing them.

Photo by Aileen Lane

Photo credit to JB McCollum
So fishing from a drift boat is completely different than anything I have ever done before!!  I got to ride in Ginger, with Shelly on the oars, and Heidi.   They were both great, knowing that I had never fished from a drift boat before.  The float was pretty uneventful as far as fish go—at least in our boat.  Emily brought a huge brown to hand.  It was gigantic!  At the very end of the float, by the Bridge before the take out…we finally had our moment!  We were both hooked up on a couple of nice rainbows!   It was so exciting!

Photo credit to JB McCollum
Photo credit to JB McCollum

The next day, some of the crew was going to put in and float the Box Canyon section, but there wasn’t enough boats for everyone.  Holly offered to take me someplace else, that we could catch fish… so I said what the heck—I’m game.     Holly took me to just below the Island Park dam.  I never would have thought that one could wade out there, but she assured me that it was okay—some deep spots, but if you were careful, it was okay.  Nymphing was the choice at that location.  She hooked and landed a really good one…and I hooked a small one and got him to net.   Then I hooked one that was most likely a personal best—I’m not sure how big he was, because he came off before we could net him.   I have a date with that fish when we return in September 😉

That night, I believe is the night Ms. Patti made gin and tonics for everyone—whew!  I don’t drink often (especially back then) and after a couple of them, well, we were all pretty much crawling up stairs to our bunks.

The next morning, a group of us went down below the dam again to fish for a bit, before we all had to head home.  I ended up leaving pretty soon, as I had a looong drive back to Lewiston.   We said our goodbyes and off I went.  I did stop at the Grubstake and pick up a few things before heading out of town.
On the way home, I just had to stop a few places along the Lochsa and try my hand at “nymphing”.  I stopped at two places and caught cutthroats and a whitey at both… I also learned that some bushes that I curse during the summer months, have a massive load of blackberries on them in the fall!

It was such a quick trip, and such a long ways to go—but it was one that I will never forget—even though 4 years now,  the timelines are a little fuzzy—but the memories will never leave!

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