Like many fly anglers, I was sucked into the hobby by visions of casting dry flies to rising trout surrounded by the sweeping hills and vast skies of the American west. However, not long after breaking into the hobby, I found myself being drawn to the excitement of flats fishing in the Florida Keys and the idea of taking a trip out west became distant.
Finally, five years after casting my first fly rod, I made the journey to Salt Lake City and then north to Wyoming. The first full day of fishing was one of the most memorable I’ve had. My fishing buddy and I explored the massive Wind River Range, following miles and miles of dirt roads. I could have stayed there forever catching those eager cutthroat trout, but eventually we came to an impasse that our rental car just wasn’t up for.
On our second day we put the Wind River in the rear view and headed to Yellowstone. I found the rivers in the park to be incredibly diverse. The lower Gardiner River is fast flowing and full of pocket water where gullible brown trout will almost always rise to a well drifted hopper. The Lamar is a truly epic river with big mayflies, big cutthroat, and big scenery. The final day of our trip was reserved for fishing the infamous Slough Creek. The hiking, the landscape, the weather, and the fishing on slough can all be described as intense. On the slow meandering bends of Slough Creek the cutthroat act more like carp than trout. Before casting to the undercut on the opposite bank, it pays to carefully watch the shallow gravel bar on the inside of the bend for cruising trout who may be in less than a foot of water. These cruising fish are very eager to rise to a well presented terrestrial, albeit the slowest and most cautious rises I’ve ever seen. To sum it up; those aforementioned visions of casting dry flies surrounded by vast landscapes came to fruition on Slough Creek.
Anybody who has fished out west knows that covering ground is key. That being said, the gear that allows you to hike further and fish longer will far outshine things like your rod and reel setup. On this trip I was fortunate enough to use the new Chota Hybrid High-Top Rubber Soled Boot. These boots are a great value for the price and resemble a lightweight hiking boot more than a wading boot. Chota purposefully built these boots with a removable insole. So they can fit comfortably with regular socks, neoprene wading socks, or the booties on your waders. However, my favorite quality of these boots is undoubtedly their light weight and how easy they are to slip on and take off whether wet or dry!
Another item I found to be invaluable on my trip was my Patagonia Stormfront Sling pack. Yellowstone is known for its hot and dry summer days, but I can assure you that thunderstorms can pop up in an instant. This pack was not only comfortable, but great for keeping my stuff dry when I couldn’t avoid a rain squall. It’s important to keep in mind that this pack is basically one big compartment. So organizing your gear inside takes a little consideration, but I find the Patagonia Black Hole Cubes to be the perfect for compartmentalizing. The not so obvious benefit of the Stormfront Sling is the fact that it’s not only water tight, but also fairly air tight. This means that the delicious smelling sandwich I stashed in my pack is pretty unlikely to lure in that big grizzly we spotted from camp the night before.