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Fly fishing for trout in Wyoming – part II

Updated: Jan 3, 2023

Continuing the Western Native Trout Challenge

McDougal Pass in the Wyoming Range

This is the second of two blog posts written by my friend and fellow NVATU member, Daniel Lazenby, highlighting his trip to Wyoming to fish the cutthroat slam. All photo credits belong to Daniel.

While packing up and pondering the second half of my pursuit of the WNTC, I met a Forest Ranger who suggested taking the 13-mile McDougal Pass (9,183ft) shortcut over the Wyoming Range to get to the Snake River watershed and the Snake River Cutthroat.

Snake River Cutthroat

Again, I’m in an area I had not researched. After setting up camp (6,955ft) I went to assess access points along Grey’s River. After the next morning’s breakfast, I headed for the ever-present willows and the river. This river was just as low and clear as the others. I chose to stay low near the riverbanks and braids, and fish downstream. It became another Bill Murray Groundhog Day for me.

The third day started a bit north of the campground. The willows thinned a touch and the river braided even more in this area. With a couple hours of light left I moved downstream to where the river widened. Here one could stand in the river and cast down and across into pools. These pools saw a parachute ant and hare’s ear nymph on 18-inch dropper drift through. After about an hour a nice cutthroat of about 8 inches came to the net. If my cutthroat spot reading was accurate, my third fish was a Snake River Cutthroat.

a Snake River cutthroat

Bonneville Cutthroat

Twenty-Four miles south of my campsite, the Grey’s River Road reaches the Tri-Basin Divide junction (8,693ft). Going straight you reenter the Green River watershed. Turning right you enter the Bear River watershed, which is home to the Bonneville Cutthroat. I had researched and planned to fish Smith’s Fork and Pork Hollow Creeks in the Bear River Watershed. On the drive south I encountered two Wyoming Game and Fish Department personnel. They suggested I take Salt River Pass (7,630ft) and cross over the Salt River Range to fish Salt Creek and its tributaries on the pass’s western side. Taking their advice, I relocated to yet another area I had not researched.

Salt Creek was like all the other creeks, with super clear and very low water. The next morning after it warmed up, I thought I’d start fishing the creek on the far side of US-89 on National Forest property. Groundhog Day happened to me two more times. Feeling more than a touch defeated, I went back to camp early. Another camper told me about a small creek that ran behind the campground. A couple of hours remained before sunset, so I walked up the trickle of a creek to see if it had fishable water. After about a quarter mile there were four beaver ponds of varying sizes. Something was rising on the larger pond (6,880ft). I couldn’t see what they were rising to. I began casting to them with a blue wing olive parachute Adams. This evening was going better than the third day on any of the other creeks. By sunset six Bonneville cutthroats were introduced to my landing net. This was the fourth of the Wyoming Cutt-Slam cutthroats!

a Bonneville cutthroat

A few weeks after submitting documentation the Wyoming Game and Fish Department sent a challenge coin and certificate confirming I had completed their Cutt-Slam. This was the first state (of at least four) and three cutthroat species towards the Expert level WNTC. Next on the list are the Apache and Gila cutthroats, and a couple of California Kern River trout.

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