Cowboy Drifters

At 5pm it is seventeen degrees outside of the Sunset Grill, a biker favorite in Alcova,WY. that overlooks the North Platte River. A greybearded barfly offers that it will be colder tomorrow. The proprietor’s expression makes it clear she doesn’t want to be there. Jimmy’s sister is on the phone thinking she is having a heart attack in a trailer behind the grill and no one knows Jimmy’s home phone. They sell a lot of cheeseburgers. I don’t know why.

The planned river float is 8 miles. The fastest you can do it is 7 hours. Wind is predicted to be 8–10. It’s five hours from Littleton, CO. I’ve come this far. Bethany says the fishing is really good. I’m on the fence. Our cabin is neat and warm. We have enough red wine for 2 days.

I tossed and turned some. The longer I thought about it the more I had to try it. The car was covered in snow @ 6:30 the next morning. Snow is a good thing, it means the winds are down. There is a question about how much ice formed on the river overnight. The ice can dam the river in spots causing the fishermen to ford the area, pushing the 300 pound drift boat over ice to the next free water. It is possible to become stranded somewhere on the 8 mile stretch. 2 years before this same guide broke his leg in three places dragging his drift boat over the ice

I have no interest in fording an ice dam. But I remain quiet. Bethany suggests floating some of our’s guides favorite spots and then wade fishing some others, calling it a half day. Sounds like a good plan.

Charlie was a Medical Tech from From Fort Collins. He lost his job at the hospital due to too much time off fishing. His wife suggested guiding. The fish proved to be easier to manage than the fishermen but after a few years they too fell into pretty consistent patterns and a living was made outside on the river. It was clear he loved his work, a complete professional.

I will never be mistaken for a great fisherman. I am someone who recognizes a great fisherman. I am very willing to pay a great fisherman to show me how to fish

In this case, the rig was a 6 weight 9 foot Orvis , floating line. There were three flys strung in tandem with 3x tippet under an orange strike indicator. Three feet below the indicator The first was an orange fish egg on the line about 2 inches above a small hook. Tied to that hook was another 3 feet of tippet ending in a minuscule worm pattern, and tied to that was another 3 feet of tippet tied to an emerging midge or a scud. To give you an idea of size all of the emerging midges ever tied in the free world would fit into a small priority mail box with some room to spare.

So you have about 9 feet of attractive minuscule artificial wildlife all about the size of an uncooked Uncle Ben’s white rice kernel. .

The air was colder than the water, 18 vs 32 degrees. No other boats today. It was strangely calm and pleasant on the river. Charlie rowed us against the current to a spot above a hole he called the candy store.

“Ok , get ready to cast about 12 feet and mend the line constantly so that the drift of your flies is natural, “ As soon as you see a subtle strike raise the rod like a recast. It takes some getting used too. The mending is crucial. I missed 2 big fish immediately. One I held on to the reel while he was running. The other I screwed up some other way. But we managed to land 2 or 3 fish from there. Another good one wading above this hole. Then lunch. Then a 15 minute trip to Fremont Gorge area. Wading, I got good a good one there. Crazy beautiful place. There were two fishermen when we arrived but they soon left. There were fish in every hole. I encouraged the guide to make some casts. A trout straightened his hook in 3 minutes. At about 4:30 we headed off the river. I was beaten and windblown. And I’ll be back.

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