ROOT BEERS, MILKSHAKES, RENEGADES & MOUNTAIN LAKES

My parents had eight kids and now all of my siblings are married with kids of their own.  So, to sum it up, the Wayment family is simply huge (pronounced like the POTUS).  We all love each other, get along, and treasure the rare times when we can be together.  Last July, we rented a cabin in Garden City, Utah for a much-needed family reunion.  I believe the last time all of us were together was when our beloved dad passed away in 2014.

When the Wayment Family gets together, you can pretty much bet on three things: (1) Some of us are going hunting or fishing; (2)  Mexican Food will be eaten (or some other good food like Cajun or BBQ); and (3) gourmet root beers will be consumed (we’re Mormons so we don’t drink alcohol).  Last year’s reunion was no exception to this rule.

 

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Speaking of Mormons, this root beer named after Brigham Young was one of my favorites from the trip.
Most of the family arrived at the cabin on Thursday, July 7th and we just sat around and enjoyed each other’s company.  Brother Shawn had brought a whole cooler of gourmet root beers and, of course, we sampled a few.

The following day we had to spend the obligatory time on the sandy beaches of the Idaho side of Bear Lake, the “Caribbean of the Rockies.”  Honestly, I can take or leave that, but my kids enjoy it.  I talked my wife into sneaking away to go get one of those famous raspberry milkshakes Bear Lake is known for, so the day wasn’t a total loss.

After dinner, things improved tremendously as my daughter, Nessy, and brother Scott agreed to go fishing with me on St. Charles Creek in Idaho.  My nephews, Jared, Easton, and Steele also tagged along for the adventure.  Nessy and I shared a Tenkara USA Rhodo rod and Scott and Jared used their western fly rods and reels.   The creek was overgrown in most places making it difficult to cast and to wade, but we caught a few small trout.   In a seam where two currents conjoined below an island, a beautiful brook trout rolled on my  Renegade and I quickly brought him to hand.  Nessy got a little frustrated with the thickness of the foliage and the technicality of the creek, but gave it a good effort.  Our problem was that we had a hard time finding water open enough for her to cast.

As darkness descended upon us, we came upon a high beaver dam.  In the failing light, we could see the wink of rising trout in the calm water above the dam.  My tenkara rod did not have the length to reach these fish, so I borrowed my nephew, Jared’s rod and reel.  I caught a few fish on Renegades, including a nice Bonneville Cutthroat.  Though the fishing was a little tough, everyone had fun.  We capped off the night with a raspberry milkshake in Garden City.  That made two in one day for me.  Can life get any better?  I submit that it cannot!

 

Saturday, the bulk of the Wayment clan hiked up to a popular high mountain lake.   I’d tell you the name, but the lake is already so overcrowded as it is.  Have you ever seen that video meme on Facebook in which a dude swings on a rope swing out into this pristine lake and gets munched by a monstrous fish? I believe that video was taken at this particular lake.  Too bad there aren’t any monster fish in the lake like the one in the meme.

Once at the lake, I used my 2-weight St. Croix Ultra Legend rod and reel , Tommy, the Rhodo, and Nessy, the Badger Tenkara Medium Flex Classic.  I caught a bunch of fish on Pistol Petes.  Both Tom and Ness caught fish on nymphs.  The water was so clear that we sight-casted to cruising fish both in the lake proper and its outlet.

 

After catching one particular rainbow, Nessy shed a few tears as she worried that it would not make it.

With a smile on my face, I said to her, “There’s no crying in fishing!” as I helped her unhook and release the fish back into the lake.  And, if you are wondering, it swam off and we did not see it go belly up.  So that was a relief.

I really enjoy fishing high mountain lakes.  This may be sacrilege for a tenkara blog, but tenkara is not the best tactic for lake fishing because you can’t cast as far or strip the flies in like you can in western streamer fishing.  However, it is a great method for kids because the rods are easy to cast and kids learn quickly that you simply have to move the rod tip to move the fly.  I was glad to see my kids catch a few on tenkara by themselves.

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Nothing gets me more excited than to see my kids learning to love fishing.
To sum up, the Wayment Bear Lake Family Reunion was a good time.  It was fun to be together with my favorite people on earth in such a beautiful place.  I drank a total of four raspberry milkshakes (the family record, I think) and who knows how many root beers?  Shawn and I got to shoot our bows a few evenings.  And, to top it off, we caught a few trout.  I’d call that a successful trip if ever there was one.

Shawn shoots the long bow…I mean a recurve.
That’s some dang good root beer right there!
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Most of the Wayment grandkids, but not all. That’s a pretty big pile of kids!
 

 

 

 

 

 

DON’T LET YOUR MOUTH WRITE CHECKS YOUR WALLET CAN’T CASH

Every Memorial Day, my family and I go camping at Birch Creek in Idaho. It’s the perfect place to take kids fishing and to help them catch fish on a fly. All of my kids like to join in on the action and they all have become big fans of tenkara. Like me, they like to yell “TENKARA!!!” in a Japanese accent with a Karate stance.

 

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Birch Creek

Last year on Memorial Day after breakfast, I took my young son Benny fishing with my 2 weight St. Croix Ultra Legend fly rod, while my second daughter, Jenness, fished with my Tenkara USA Rhodo rod. We all fished this nice run with big boulders that we could stand on and a nice hole on both the upper and downstream ends. Ben came out and stood on the rocks with me. Nessy was with us and took some beautiful pictures as we landed a few trout.

Benny admires our fish.

Nessy also caught a few fish on tenkara. Of all my kids, Nessy has really taken to tenkara and can’t understand what other fly fishers have against it. She feels that it is effective, easy and fun. I snapped a few photos of Nessy with her fish. I’m so proud of that girl!

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Nessy getting it done with tenkara!

After we finished fishing, we went back to camp to relax. However, it wasn’t long before my third daughter, Eden, approached me and said, “Daddy, I really want to catch a fish.”

“I’ll tell you what,” I said to Eden and all of my kids. “If you can catch a fish all by yourself, I’ll buy you a Jamba juice.”

Not only did all my kids take up the challenge, but many of their friends, whose families were camping with us, wanted in on the action and the spoils. I suddenly feared that my wager was maybe a bit too generous.

Eden and her best friend, Becca, went down to the creek below camp and I showed them how to cast with the tenkara rod from the bank, but then left them to their own devises. Surprisingly, those two young ladies caught a bunch of trout. Birch Creek was in a good mood and being generous. I took a few photos as they giggled and took turns. We even let Becca’s little brother, Lincoln bring in a few.

After Eden’s success, my youngest daughter, Lily, wanted her turn with tenkara. Unlike Eden, Lily got right out into the shallow creek and waded beside me in her flip flops. Lily caught two fish that morning and was so excited. I was sure proud of her. Of course, I was starting to feel the forthcoming financial crunch from having to buy so many Jamba Juices for victorious kids.

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Lily picked tenkara up quickly.
 
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Can’t beat that smile.

As Benny, my four year old, watched from the bank, I decided to let him bring in a few in from the bank. No, he didn’t hook them himself. I did and then handed him the tenkara rod. Some of my very favorite pictures of the trip are of him fighting the fish from the bank. I figured that this qualified him for a Jamba Juice too.

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Benny fights a fish on tenkara.

As I will write about in another chapter, “Try Again Tom,” my son Thomas also caught two fish on tenkara. So all of my kids, except my oldest, Emma, who did not try, caught fish (yes, that’s six kids in all if anyone is keeping track).

Call me cheap, but at six bucks a pop, a trip to Jamba Juice for so many kids didn’t seem too financially feasible. So I decided to renegotiate and, instead of Jamba Juice, ended up buying all my kids Stewart’s Key Lime Sodas. That was a little more friendly to my wallet and they loved it!

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Stewarts Key Lime: To the victors the spoils!

Moral of the story: Don’t let your mouth write checks your wallet can’t cash. Tenkara just makes it so fun and easy for kids to catch fish.

LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE

(Day One: Part One).

There’s an old idiom lightning never strikes twice, which means that most people believe that the same rare thing never happens to a person twice.  From my first day of fishing in Colorado with Brother Shawn, I can testify that lightning sometimes does strike twice in the same place–and in more ways than one.

To our chagrin, the Arkansas River was once again blown out for my fourth annual Colorado fishing trip in June of 2016.  Like last year, Shawn and I would have to find other rivers to fish.  As we discussed where to go, we talked about the epic fishing we experienced the previous year on a big creek named after the Indian word for a mountain pass where buffalo would cross over to the other valley (that’s the only hint I’m giving you) and a smaller tributary I’ll call, “Pine Creek.”  Last year the fishing on Pine Creek was epic due to hatching Green Drakes, smaller stone flies, Yellow Sallies, and PMD’s.

“Do you think we’ll see any Green Drakes on Pine Creek?”  Shawn asked hopefully.

“I think it’s possible,” I replied, “but my experience with Green Drakes is that they are hard to time correctly.  It’s usually the classic: You should have been here yesterday! I say we give it a try anyway and hope for the best.”  We both concurred that this was the game plan for our first morning.

When we pulled up to our parking spot early that morning, we both nervously walked up to the creek hoping to see some of the big green mayflies.  The tea-colored creek appeared about the same exact flow as last year.  It was as if we had never left.  It didn’t take long before we saw a spinner drake dancing above a riffle.

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It was like deja vu. The little creek looked perfect!

 

 

“Brother, that’s a Green Drake!  Can you believe that we timed this right?”  Shawn exclaimed.

We both hustled back to the truck and rigged up our rods; Shawn, a Southern Appalachian Glass fly rod, and me a Tenkara USA Rhodo.  I tied on a Green Drake Cripple and was on the creek fishing well before Shawn even had his rod rigged up.  In fact, I had a nice brown hooked, landed and photoed before Shawn even stepped foot in the creek.

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First fish of the trip: A nice brown on a green drake cripple. 

 

Shawn and I decided to fish upstream together and take turns at each likely looking pool, run, or bend.  We were stoked to observe copious amounts of stoneflies, Yellow Sallies, Caddis, PMD’s and a few Green Drakes all along the creek.  Despite the abundant tablefare, Shawn struggled at first to get the finicky browns to take his fly.

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Little Stonefly.

 

“Brother, it’s all about the drag free drift and keeping as much line off the water as possible.  These fish won’t take your fly if they see your line. Tenkara is perfect for this little creek, because the fish are only seeing my fly,” I explained to Shawn.  Shawn followed my advice and soon started catching fish in every likely looking spot with his glass rod.

After catching numerous nice brownies, I lost the Green Drake Cripple that had served me so well.  Shawn struggled to catch fish on the various Stimulator patterns he had tied.  We both naturally gravitated toward the classic Renegade in a size 12, which we tie with a red, purple or blue butt.  In my opinion, the Renegade is one of the most versatile and effective attractor patterns ever created.  We quickly found that Renegade worked just fine as we both caught numerous nice browns and brook trout.

The fishing on Pine Creek was technical in that we had to sneak into casting range to not spook the wary fish and then cast the fly precisely with a drag free drift.  On one bend of the creek, Shawn watched a nice brown rise to the surface and eat a natural fly.  He then cast the Renegade above the brown’s lie at the bend of the creek and we both watched as it drifted perfectly into position.  Of course, the brown rose up, slurped it in and Shawn soon landed him.  Multiple times that day Shawn said out loud: “My favorite fish of the day was that brown that I watched take a natural and then I got him to take my fly.”

“Yes, that was pretty darn cool, brother.”  I had to agree.

As we had the previous year, we fished all the way up to where beaver dams blocked our progress.  In the pond above the beaver dam, we watched trout sipping naturals on the glassy surface.  I then cast the Renegade lightly to where we saw the last rise and the eager fish quickly gulped it in.  When I set the hook, the acrobatic fish blasted out of the water unlike the browns and brook trout before.  I quickly brought the rainbow to hand and we snapped a picture.

With our progress stymied, Shawn and I hiked out of the creek bottom though marshlands interspersed with wild irises–a favorite wildflower of mine–back to the road.  We stopped at the truck for a break and cracked open two Boylan Root Beers.

“Here’s to hitting this creek perfectly two years in a row,” Shawn said as we clinked our bottles together.

“Amen to that brother.”  The gourmet root beer was the perfect compliment to our morning.

Not wanting to call it quits on Pine Creek, we decided to hike downstream a ways and fish back up to the truck.  As we hiked, three cow elk blasted out of the creek bottom and up a pine-covered hillside.  We took it as a good omen.  The creek downstream looked excellent and we were excited to give it a try.

We didn’t fish long, however, before a dark storm cloud rolled over the little valley.  As we approached another little beaver pond, the heavens let loose with thunder and lightning.  I don’t mind fishing in the rain, but standing in a creek with a lightning rod during an electric storm is just plain dumb.

“We better get the heck out of here!” said Shawn as we witnessed lightning flash overhead.

“Yeah, buddy.  Let’s get out of Dodge!”

As we were both trying to get out of the creek, I stepped into thick mud and pea-sized gravel suddenly filled my Simms wading sandals making the going extremely tough and painful.  Moreover, my fly snagged on a willow near the beaver dam and I struggled to get it loose.  All the while, thunder boomed and lightning cracked all around me.

Not long after I pulled the fly free, marble sized hail starting to pummel us.  Shawn decided that it was each for his own and he bolted down the trail to the truck as fast as he could.  I, on the other hand, hobbled along as the gravel in my sandals tortured my poor feet.  Yet, I didn’t dare stop to take off my shoes because of the overhead onslaught of hail that stung my neck, ears and arms.  My only recourse was to pull my fishing vest up over my head and keep moving.  To my relief, I soon saw the truck and jogged over to it despite the rocks in my sandals.

By the time I reached the truck, there was an inch of hail on the ground.  As I took shelter in the truck, Shawn laughingly reported that he had filmed my misfortune with his phone.

“Dude, that really sucked!” I hollered, “But it was kind of awesome too! I’m just glad we didn’t get struck by lightning. I couldn’t go any faster because I had rocks in my sandals!”

“That was dang scary!  I had rocks in mine too, but I ran anyway.”   Shawn replied.

Despite the crazy weather, we both agreed that the morning was a stellar success.  Lightning had struck twice both figuratively and literally.  Any way you slice it, this was an adventure to remember.

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A bend in my rod at the bend of the creek.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

RUDE, CRUDE AND UNCOUTH

This summer is flying by on wings of lightning.  I have had an absolute blast fishing the past few months, mostly with Tenkara.  I seriously have a year’s worth of blogging to catch up on.

I should first mention that I had an article entitled, “Zenkara” published in the Summer issue of Tenkara Angler.  For any of you interested in reading, here is the LINK. I’m way impressed with the quality of this online magazine and will definitely support it in the future.

Also, last month I flew out to Colorado for three days of fishing with my brother and best friend Shawn.  To sum it up, we had more fun than two adults ever should.  We were like two kids eating good food, fishing to our heart’s content, and drinking every gourmet root beer we could find.  You can read Shawn’s lies about our adventure on Upland Ways.  If any are interested, here is the link to Shawn’s article, Renegades, Root Beers & the Avett Brothers.

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Root Beers, Renegades, and Tenkara

Over the next few months, I will definitely add my two cents worth about this epic trip, but today, I wanted to share a quick anecdote about still water fishing in Colorado with tenkara.

On Thursday, after an epic morning of dry fly fishing on a small creek I’ll call Pine Creek and getting pounded by a hail storm, I said to Shawn, “That sure is a pretty waterfall over there.”

“That’s not a waterfall.  It’s a spillway for an old reservoir.” Shawn replied.

“Seriously? I never would have guessed that.”

“You want to go check it out?  The fishing is pretty good.” Shawn asked.

After being literally pummeled by hail on the creek, we decided that a change of scenery might be nice. And we also hoped to keep a few trout for Shawn’s smoker.  Shawn and I usually practice catch and release, but I asked him to teach me how to smoke some trout while we were together in Colorado.  We figured that reservoir trout were more worthy of death than their wily brethren in the creek below.

Shawn then drove us down a two track that led to the trailhead to the reservoir.

As we hiked toward the waterfall along a path strewn with wild raspberry canes, I soon saw the old manmade dam and the spillway causing the beautiful waterfall.

Once on top of the dam, Shawn commenced fishing with his traditional rod.  All I had was my Tenkara USA Rhodo rod.  I realized that tenkara was probably not the most effective rod for this type of fishing because of the shorter casting range and that I needed something that would attract the fishes’ attention.  While this may be total sacrilege to the purists, I am a big fan of the Pistol Pete, a wet fly with a little metal propeller near the eye of the hook.  Many claim that this is not a fly at all, but rather a lure.  Regardless, Pistol Petes catch fish!  I cannot tell you how many times this fly has saved my day and worked when nothing else would.  So naturally, I opted for a little silver flash Pistol Pete.

I flung the fly out as far as I could with the tenkara rod and then towed the fly back to me using my arm and the long rod.  On the first or second cast, I hooked into a nice rainbow, but it quickly got off.  It wasn’t long before another one slammed the Pistol Pete and I brought this one to hand,  dispatched it, and created a little pool with boulders to put him in.

When the thundering clouds overhead threatened lightning, I headed over to the far left side of the dam to–if it became necessary–quickly take shelter against the cliff from lightning or more hail.  As I stood in this spot, I caught numerous other rainbows and brookies, many of which suffered the same fate as the first unlucky trout.  Shawn also caught a few fish, but not as many as Me Ol’ Friend Pete.

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Andy catching fishing fish on I Dunno Reservoir.

Seeing fish rise just outside of my casting range, I got creative and skirted the cliff’s rocky shelf to get into better casting range.  This technique worked pretty well and I soon brought a few more fish to their doom.

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Scaling the cliff’s ledge to get to rising trout.

Since I started tenkara fishing, I have received a lot of guff from naysayers.  I have been amazed at the hostility this style of fishing ignites.  Many say it’s nothing more than cane pole fishing.  At one point while fishing this reservoir, I smiled as the thought struck me that my actions at that moment probably ticked off everyone in the sport of flying fishing.  Here I was fishing tenkara, with a Pistol Pete, and bonking a limit of fish on the head.  Undoubtedly, many would consider this triple combination as rude, crude and uncouth.

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Fish murderer.

The truth is, I don’t really care!  The technique worked.  I had fun and I later learned that smoked trout are a tasty treat, especially the pink-meated brookies.

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Our haul on the Little Chief Smoker.

 In hindsight, I can honestly say that tenkara was no handicap for me whatsoever on this trip. In fact, tenkara can sometimes be more effective than traditional fly fishing.  Now when somebody criticizes me about tenkara (or Pistol Pete for that matter), I simply respond, “I let the fish be the judge.”

MY DESERT FISHING OASIS

Every year, my family heads south to Utah’s famed red rock country for Spring Break.  This trip is always such a welcome relief to the doldrums of Idaho’s long, cold winters.  As much as I love hiking and petroglyph viewing, I always hope to sneak in some fishing, but—in years past—we never could fit it in.

This year, we headed to Vernal to spend some time in and around Dinosaur National Monument.  This was actually our third time vacationing in the area for spring break and we honestly feel we are just beginning to understand all of the fun things this area offers:  Dinosaur fossils, sightseeing, hiking, and petroglyph viewing.   I mentioned to my wife that, if at all possible, I hoped to get some fishing in on this trip.

Everyone knows of the world-class Green River and its fishing.  While that was a possibility, I needed a place where I could keep my family occupied while I wet a line for a few minutes.  The Green just didn’t seem to fit the bill.  About six years ago during a sharptail hunt, my friend Ryan Dearing told me about his favorite place to fish in Utah, a remote canyon creek that you had to hike into loaded with big rainbows and browns somewhere in eastern Utah.  The place always sounded tantalizing, but seemed out of reach for me, especially on a family vacation.  But I still hoped that there would be somewhere that fit the bill. 

 After spending our first day in Dinosaur National Monument, I read the brochures and asked around for fishing suggestions for the next day and one particular creek came up numerous times.  I won’t mention the creek’s name, but will let you discover it for yourself (as I did).  My wife suggested that we go to this creek as a family on Friday.  When I asked our RV camp host where to fish, he mentioned a few creeks, but when I told him that my wife wanted us to go to this particular creek, he acted as if I had just discovered his secret and he reluctantly told me that this creek had big browns and rainbows and that this is where he would go if he had the choice.  His response certainly piqued my interest. 

Friday morning, my family and in-laws headed out of Vernal towards our destination.  We drove up from the desert floor, through the cedars, up on top of a sage-covered mountain, and then dropped into this red rock gorge that looks like Zion’s National Park.  Even with the thick gray clouds overhead, the colors radiated.  I liked this place instantly for the scenery alone. 

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The view from up top was unexpected and spectacular.  I thought it looks like Zion’s National Park.

 

Upon arrival, I spent a minute with the family seeing the main attraction (which, if I told you, would give away the location) and then begged leave to try fishing the creek.  My wife graciously agreed.  I quickly strung up my Tenkara USA Rhodo rod with a flashy green nymph with red wire and a black bead head.  I hiked down the trail until I came to the creek.  At the creek’s edge, I promptly saw two fifteen inch rainbows right off the bank and I’m sure they could see me too.  I cast the nymph and drifted it in front of their faces numerous times with no takes.   I immediately fell in love with the creek:  Perfect sized, clear, spring fed but looks like a freestone river, sporting big, picky fish.  What’s not to love? 

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A fly fisherman’s dream.  

 

I had earlier observed about five or six anglers gear up and head down the trail before me so I was a little worried that the creek would be crowded, but the other anglers had passed on by leaving beautiful, trout-filled water seemingly all to me.  With the limited amount of time, I decided then to focus on the quarter mile stretch just below the trailhead.   

I hiked down about fifty yards and saw this beautiful run below an exposed boulder mid-creek which just screamed of fish.  The rocks aligning the creek were covered up with adult blue wing olives.  I stepped out into the current in my Simms wading sandals and Patagonia fishing pants.  The water was cold, but bearable.  I cast the green nymph into the calm below the boulder and the little foam indicator quickly jerked underwater.   An angry 17 inch rainbow ripped up out of the water and ran to the far side of the creek.  I tried to turn its head, but the supercharged fish was quickly off.  I honestly felt undergunned with the Tenkara rod, but that is all that I had so it would have to do.  By dumb luck, the little green nymph was perfect for this particular hatch.  I soon hooked and landed a fourteen-inch rainbow, but it was a small consolation to the big one that got away. 

I headed down the creek and spied a deep pool beside a big boulder.  At the head of the run the creek narrows through a shoot, but opens up into a dark pool loaded with fish.  I stood on the boulder and hooked numerous fish just as my wife, mother-in-law, and two oldest daughters came hiking down the trail.  I caught and released a few beautiful rainbows and one nice brown as they watched, all the while raving about the creek.  Of course, I asked my wife to snap a few photos of the action.

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The glory hole.

 

After another forty-five minutes of fishing and exploring, I had to leave.  I felt like I had only scratched the surface of this amazing creek.  I truly felt as if I had just hit the jackpot and I made plans to someday spend more time exploring this amazing place. 

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A unique, wild brown trout. 

 

That night, I posted a few photos of my fishing excursion on Facebook.  Interestingly, my friend Ryan recognized the place and commented: “What???  That’s one of my favorite spots.”  I then realized that I had discovered and fished the very creek that Ryan told me about all those years ago and it was everything he had described and more.  I guess some days you can have your proverbial cake and eat it too.  I will definitely go back some day.      

 

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I will definitely be back to explore this amazing, red rock canyon creek.