I’d like to share a report from my recently attended Cutthroat Chapter of Trout Unlimited (CCTU) trip to the Green River. I’ve been a member of Trout Unlimited for years but an active member only for the last three or four. Every year, CCTU hosts three or four trips to nearby, world-class rivers like the San Juan, Big Horn and Green rivers. After spending an hour with a group of previous Green River trip attendees, I finally committed and went on my first CCTU, multi-day trip. It was wonderful! We had a great group of guys of varying ages and abilities that I’m sure will eventually turn out to be close friends. And the green-tinted but clear water that flows through an amazing red-walled canyon is filled with large, cooperative fish.
All of the trip attendees, naturally, shared the common bond of trout fishing, though in various forms. Some found success dredging the bottom, which can be difficult to reach on the Green River. Our float-trip guide said that some of the pools could be 30 feet deep. I think Alex said that he had some four, full-sized split-shot plus some tungsten putty to get to the lower realm of some of these pools. Others tracked only rising fish, another plentiful thing on the Green River. Each day the hatches were consistent and began with a veritable carpet of midges covering the river. Depending on the weather, the Blue Winged Olives would hatch somewhere around mid-afternoon. After the BWO hatch slowed down, the midges were back on the rise. The amount of aquatic insects in the Green River is truly amazing and evidence to the health of the river.
More fisherman diversity included the way in which each of us approached the river: some from the middle on various floating watercraft, others from the edges on foot, and a few did a little of both. One of my carpool buddies, Jim Klug and I took a float trip from the dam down to Little Hole on our first day. It was an educational trip and one of the best float trips I’ve ever been on. I highly recommend our guide, Ryan Kelley: endless patience and he’s not afraid to change flies like some guides can be.
Regardless of how each of us fished the river and our various levels of success (another attendee, Duane, was only a few hook-ups from a 30-fish day!), we all gathered back at the Flaming Gorge Resort where we milled around the kitchen table to share stories of the day, which fostered new relationships and solidified old ones. As fishermen, we are all good at telling stories, so the conversations could have gone on forever and we might not have noticed but for the increasing volume of our growling stomachs. The stories were usually continued at the resort restaurant where we enjoyed good meals and more conversation before retiring for the night to do it all again the next day.
For my part, I had something of a revelation on the river. I lost track of how many fish I caught one very successful day and that puzzled me. For many of us, it’s either the number or the quality of the fish that matters. I think I realized that I fall in the quality camp right now but that might have something to do with the fact that the Green River doesn’t really have fish under 15 inches. But that realization wasn’t the only one. I also realized that once I finally landed the beautiful, large trout playing at the end of my line, reveled in its beauty for a moment and watched it gently swim away, I only thought of the next fish. That’s why I lost count on what was my first 20-plus fish day in as many years. I’m not sure how to feel about this. Is it that I’m so focused on the ‘now’ that the statistics of the day get lost? Or is it that I’m not living in the ‘now’ and that I’m only focused on the next goal, the future, and so the tallies, the past, don’t matter? (It’s amazing how fishing can so easily reveal such philosophical and grand ponderings.) So I’m still trying to figure out what’s driving me and I guess I’ve really never considered it before. Hopefully, I’ll have a more definitive answer by the time the trip rolls around next year or I’ll just have to spend another stellar day contemplating my motivations. Woe is me…