and Jan's Most Excellent Vacation
When I got home
and had time to think about it, I soon realized that this
was the best vacation I have had in years. I had been waiting
to see Yellowstone Park for as long as I could remember
and finally I made it. Having one of my Grandsons along
was a neat deal also.
of my dear friends, Randy Wiyninger and his wife Connie
had moved to Soda Springs, Id. last year to manage an apartment
complex and we had been planning this trip together since
last winter. It is a good days drive from Bend to Soda Springs
and not much to see after Ontario, Or. The area they live
in is a small valley below Pocatello, Id. nestled between
a couple of small mountain ranges at a little over 6,000
feet in elevation.
was so pumped up when we got there. It was so good to see
them and the opportunity to get up into some of that country
just north of them had me chomping at the bit to get on
the road. We had decided that we would head up through Star
Valley, Wyoming on route to Jackson. You know when I was
growing up; I could have sworn it was called Jackson Hole.
My guess is that political correctness wins again. We were
heading up to explore this famous tourist trap and then
would venture up the shores of Palisades Lake to fish the
Snake River beneath the dam. Randy has reunited his love
affair for fly-fishing and has been paying his dues on the
river since the spring. Colin and I flung some lures from
shore to no avail and spent a little of that evening watching
Randy haul that fly back and forth as artfully as anyone
who is just getting back into it. One thing is for sure,
he is way ahead of me with a fly rod.
The next morning
found us in route to Yellowstone via the northern route
up through St. Anthony. We welcomed the change of scenery
from the high desert and soon were deep in pines on our
way to Island Park Lake. After lunch along the shore, we
got back on the road with Henry’s Lake as our next
stop. It was news to Jan that we were taking a more scenic
route to Yellowstone and at her urging; we drove by Henry’s
and moved on toward Hebgen Lake and the West entrance of
of the most interesting parts of the whole trip unfolded
as we started up the canyon to Hebgen. You could see the
after affects of a giant slide that fell due to the earthquake
that occurred in 1959. I had not heard the story of Earthquake
Lake or the infamous quake that had formed it. We turned
into the visitor’s center and sat down in a small
theater to watch the film of that horrendous event. Twenty-eight
people perished in a campground below the granite cliffs
that August night a little after midnight. The earthquake
was measured at 7.4 on the rector scale, and was the fourth
largest in modern history in the United States. The enormity
of it all struck me as I stood up against the railing and
looked out over the slide area. They said that the wind
preceding the slide neared 100 M.P.H. as the wall of rock
screamed down the mountain to dam the river and bury the
unsuspecting campers below.
this interesting diversion, we were finally driving by Hebgen
Lake and soon approached the town of West Yellowstone and
the entrance of the
famous park. Our plan was to break the park down into do-able
bites over the next day and a half. We stayed in Canyon
Village in the center of the park and worked from that base
camp. First day out was up to Mammoth Hot Springs, explore
anything of interest along the way, and then back down toward
Old Faithful and the geysers in that area of the park. The
beauty of the whole place had me spellbound and I understood
why so many people rave about there trips. I was only disappointed
in the over-commercialization of the most famous geyser
of them all. As I stood there at Old Faithful and looked
around at all the buildings, concrete and wooden walkways
and all of the other manmade distractions, I wondered about
the awe felt by the early settlers when it was first discovered.
It is still an impressive sight!
The next morning
we would head south toward Yellowstone Lake and then on
out to the Tetons. Before we left the area that morning,
we went to the upper and lower falls to view one of the
most photographed scenes in America. The falls truly are
spectacular! On the road south of there, we came upon a
large clearing with hundreds of Bison spread across both
sides of the road. We got some great shots of some of the
bulls doing what appeared to be a rutting routine.
Yellowstone River is gorgeous as it winds along toward the
lake. We stopped a few times along the way for photos and
to watch rising cutthroats as they took stoneflies in this
surreal setting. When we were within view of the lake, the
fishing bridge beckoned us to watch 5-9 LB. Cutts taking
various bugs that dotted the surface. They used to let the
public fish in that area of the river but the practice was
stopped years ago due to over harvesting of the cutthroats.
After lunch at
Yellowstone Lake and the walk around the West Thumb Geyser
basin, we pushed on to the Tetons. Unfortunately, we arrived
in the afternoon and with the sun behind the mountains,
we did not get the photo opportunities we would have had
in the morning. They were still awe inspiring as the rose
above Jackson Lake. By the end of the day, we found ourselves
back in Jackson to give the local merchants a little more
of our money for some irresistible trinkets to take home.
We made it home to Soda Springs before dark and were very
exhausted from our marathon during the last two days. I
vowed I would return someday soon.
of the biggest highlights of the trip was the trek to the
Holy of Fishing Holies, Flaming Gorge. For many years, I
had fantasized about the trip to the Gorge. Having missed
the glory days of the best trophy brown trout fishing in
the United States during the 70’s and 80’s,
I still wanted to visit this shrine. Located on the border
of Wyoming and Utah, this 92 mile long Reservoir is one
of the most famous fishing destinations in North America.
It holds lake trout up to 50 Lb. and held the world record
for brown trout with a 33Lb. 10 oz. monster in the late
70’s. The current attraction is monster kokanee with
both state records exceeding 6 Lb.
couple of my fishing buddies live in the area and we had
planned to get together for some hardcore, trophy kokanee
fishing. Ron Carey and John Krmpotich have become close
friends over the last five years. Ron and I met through
our association of being brownbaggers. Krmp, as he likes
to be called, is one of Ron’s best friends. We all
fished together years back when they came to Central Oregon
to sample some of our brown trout waters. I took them to
Paulina, Crescent and Wickiup. They were repaying the favor
via a day out on the Gorge. The only disappointment was
that Ron could not join us due to some medical problems
with his wife.
met Krmp at the motel around 4:00 a.m. with high hopes of
getting into some big kokes. Turns out that we would have
a day I will never forget as long as I live. Arriving at
the ramp of Anvil Draw we discovered that Krmp’s boat
trailer had a flat. Deciding to deal with it after the fishing,
we launched the boat and headed to an area called Wildhorse
Creek and set up to fish. John had done well the previous
week and stuck 22 kokes with his father-in-law in the same
area. By what we saw on the graph, it was looking good for
us as well. These kokes looked like small (4-5 LB. lakers)
on the screen of his Lowrance. We were licking our chops!
We set up to
run a rod on each rigger and I was amazed at the rods Krmp
was setting up. I had brought a couple of Miralle’s
light noodle rods we use for Kokanee back in Oregon. John
suggested that we would be better off using his medium size
downrigger rods because of the size of the fish we would
catch. I told him that was fine with me.
first fish was 3 Lb. and I was amazed that it was considered
on the small side for the current status of Flaming Gorge
kokanee. After several kokes around 3.5 to 3.75 Lb., I was
getting a clear picture of why serious kokanee anglers from
around the west were flocking here these past few summers.
These were incredible fish that fought hard and took drag,
something that was foreign to us on our local kokes.
I lucked out
and turned on the video camera when my Grandson Colin hooked
up on the biggest kokanee of the day. The koke weighing
around 4.25 to 4.35 lb. and will probably net him the world
record for his age class in the IFGA. I have the fish in
the freezer and will take it to the Post Office soon for
a certified weight prior to submitting it. The fish got
within 30 feet of the boat and then turned and did a blitz
run of about 40 yards in a sweeping run across the top of
the water like salmon running up a river in 10 inches of
water. I will eventually have the video up on the website.
we finished the morning with 24 kokanee and 2 small lakers.
The kokanee AVERAGED an incredible 3.25 LB., conservatively.
The two biggest (both over 4 LB.) are in my freezer and
will be mounted soon. John gave me permission to share that
we caught all the fish on rigs consisting of double Shasta
Tackle Slingblades with hootchies and a Goldstar flasher
pulling the same. The fish were around 50 feet and the bite
that morning was dying around 11:00 a.m.
What a treat
for me to fish this lake with family and friends and be
as successful as we were in the short window of time we
had. As I said earlier, I will never forget this trip to
Flaming Gorge and one of the most memorable vacations of