My flyfishing days are some of my best memories

Too many summers have come
and gone since I got serious
about getting my flyfishing gear
together and spending quality time
along a wild river.
With all the nonstop bad news these
days, and in an effort to
practice social distancing,
there’s a yearning for
a few hours of solitude
while waist deep in a cold
river and trying to outwit a
wiley trout.
I’ve never had much
interest in fishing lakes.
While they can be scenic,
they don’t hold much interest
or adventure for me.
A lake lacks the energy of
an untamed river.
Some folks love to drag
that shiny hardware behind
their boat as they putt in circles
around a lake trolling. It’s my observation
that the fish basically hooks itself.
You have to work harder than that
for success as a flyfisherman. You have
to study the insect life of the river, hike
the banks for a promising spot, wade
into the cold water and see if you can
get a good cast or two in that doesn’t
slap the fly on the water.
When I was really serious about fly
fishing, I studied it. I knew who the
greats were in the sport. Yes, there
were celebrity flyfishers, known far
and wide in the West.
Some were famous for
their skill as guides and
their prowess at catching
big trout on western
rivers. Others were noteworthy
for the flies they
invented or their casting
techniques or the books
they wrote on the topic.
Two names that come to
mind in that group of flyfishing
pioneers include
Lee Wulff and Lefty Kreh.
There was Jack Dennis
over in Jackson Hole,
Wyo. Dan Bailey ran a
famous fly shop in Livingston, Mont.,
just a stone’s throw from the fabled
My two brothers and I always
stopped in at Bud Lilly’s Trout Shop in
West Yellowstone, Mont., before going
into the park. The inventory was a
bit pricey for us back then, but at least
we got the chance to take in the flyfishing
royalty that frequented the shop.
They say West Yellowstone is the
mecca of flyfishing. Counting up the
storied western rivers within an hour’s
drive, that would be a hard point to
argue. There is the Madison, Gallatin,
Yellowstone, Gibbon, Firehole, Henrys
Fork, and the list goes on.
Those are all well-known flyfishing
rivers, all blue-ribbon waters, but the
South Fork of the Snake River in eastern
Idaho is where my heart resides,
along with my best fishing memories.
It’s nostalgia for those carefree days
of scraping together $5 for gas, packing
a few sandwiches, borrowing the
family station wagon and hitting the
We fished the South Fork every
evening we could from Ririe upstream
through Swan Valley. We memorized
every riffle, every hole.
I haven’t visited some of the flyfishing
spots of my youthful days in many
years. I really don’t want to see the development
and the crowds at places we
once had all to ourselves in the 1970s.
Time moves on and so have I.
Steve Lyon is the editor of the Weiser
Signal American. Contact him at


Signal American

18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
PH: (208) 549-1717
FAX: (208) 549-1718

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