Abigail and I visited Wyoming for the first-time last year when we went to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National park. During the trip, we fell in love the state and knew return trips would be inevitable. Our absence would only last 11 months as we returned over the 4th of July weekend, this time with our friends Jake and Drew.
As is my practice, I rented a truck for the long road trip. I love my 1997 Ford, but I don’t know if I trust it going across the country. My decision was validated when we scored with a 2019 King Ranch, fully loaded! After filling the baller rental truck with our fishing and camping gear, we started a drive that would last through the night and end with us catching an hour or two of sleep in Sheridan’s Wal-Mart parking lot.
The pitter patter of rain woke us from our glorified naps. We had a few hours to kill before the local fly shop opened, so we decided to look for a local breakfast place and the Silver Spur fit the bill. It was a perfect place to kill some time with the locals, fill up on French toast cinnamon rolls and wait out the morning rain.
After stuffing ourselves, we made our way to the local fly shop to pick up a few bugs and get some intel. The shop was one of the more impressive ones that I’ve been to, and we spent 30 minutes chatting and wandering the shop all while trying to maintain our low budget trip status. Thankfully, the rain started to slow down when we left the shop and we anxiously headed into the mountains.
The first day of fishing was slow but multiple species of fish were caught. There was a small caddis hatch that helped us trick a few small browns and rainbows, but the highlights were Jake catching the first cutthroat of the trip on his new glass rod he just finished building and I caught my first cuttbow (cross between a rainbow trout and cutthroat trout).
That night we setup camp high up in the mountains and enjoyed freeze dried meals and a short fire before we crawled into our tents and crashed, exhausted after a day of fishing proceeded by a night of almost no sleep.
The following morning, we packed up camp and narrowly avoided a rainstorm. We headed down the mountain in search of our next campsite and found a great one that sat inside the woods, but overlooked a wide-open range with mountains in the background. We spent the day fishing a long stretch of river, but had limited success. A few fish were caught, including a nice rainbow on a dry that I had seen consistently eating before casting to it. It ate on the first drift and showed off with some acrobatics before landing in my net. The highlight of the day, however, wasn’t the fishing, but the natural beauty that we hiked through all day.
The following day took us down a minimum maintenance road, where 5 mph was our top speed, and ended in a beautiful canyon with a beautiful river running through it. Fish were caught here and there on our foam flies, but the scenery yet again, took the show.
Towards the end of our hike, I tossed my big, foam stone fly into a run next to a cliff wall. Within seconds a fish came up for the fly, but didn’t’ commit. On the next cast, the fish didn’t miss. After sipping my fly and realizing it was hooked, it shot downstream and I began to chase it. I knew it was a large fish, so I did everything I could to stay connected. Thankfully Jake was downstream from me and safely netted what is now my largest cutthroat! It was a stunning fish. This is what we had come to Wyoming in search of, and although fishing was tough, this fish excited me about the potential all over again.
That evening we decided to drive straight through, back to Minnesota; 14 hours later, at 9:00am, we arrived back in St. Paul. We packed a lot into 4 days and were exhausted, but I didn’t regret a second of the trip and am already looking forward to my next overnight drive, heading west.