Wow. What a day.
I had enough unique experiences today to last me the rest of the season. Three generations - myself, my father, and my grandfather - hit the road in Dad's Dodge, bound for Hohnholz Lakes, just south of the Wyoming border. Much to Gramps's chagrin, we skipped a time-honored tradition of breakfast in Laramie. Dad and I were anxious to get to the lakes as early as possible. We did stop briefly at a fly shop in Laramie so Gramps could pick up some Double Renegades. When I asked for a quick report on conditions at the lake, the answer was a non-committal "throw a big woolly bugger" out there. Hmm. Not much to go on.
When we arrived at the lake, we weren't alone. About a dozen vehicles had beaten us to the punch, and several boats dotted the landscape of the water. The wind, normally at least tame at that hour, was already whipping up pretty good, so I abandoned any thoughts I may have had about getting in the float tube. Fortunately, there was plenty of space along the circumference of the lake. We stepped into our waders and the fishing commenced.
I decided on a bead head gold stone fly nymph. Why I'm not sure, but boy did it do the trick right out of the gate. My very first cast resulted in a nice little cutthroat. Not huge, but chunky. Nice opportunity for a photo op, right? Wrong. As the trout thrashed around in the water, I pulled out my camera and tried to execute the camera in one hand/rod in the other hand dance...and promptly dropped the camera in the lake.
Hence, no pictures, which makes me uncomfortable given what I'm about to say. Despite my clumsiness, I continued to enjoy an uncharacteristically prolific day of fishing. I landed 20+ trout today. I know it's true because I stopped counting in the high teens, before noon. The gold stone fly lasted for about the first seven fish before falling apart. The remainder of the morning was dominated by flashback pheasant tail nymphs for me and renegades for Dad and Gramps.
After lunch, things cooled off a bit for me. Gramps, at 95, started to wear out, so we watched Dad continue to land fish on renegades. As I stepped out of the water, I noticed some prominent horns sticking up from just over a small ridge. Abruptly, I stopped as a huge male Pronghorn Antelope stood up and stared at me. As Dad got out of the lake, we walked over and watched as the Pronghorn paced back and forth around the lake. Suddenly, something spooked him and he started running...fast....directly toward the two of us. No further than 15 yards in front of us, the antelope ran past us at a full sprint. It brought a completely new perspective to the word "speed" to see the stout animal moving that fast in such close proximity. It brought a rush to my heart. As we watched the antelope, I began to realize that the 12 inch cutthroat that caused me to fumble with my camera wasn't worth the photo I tried to take earlier in the day.
Finally, we decided to call it a day. As we climbed back in the truck and took in some scenery of the valley along the Laramie River, I noticed another huge animal in a meadow right next to the river. After a second glance, I realized that it wasn't just a big horse, it was a female moose. "Get your camera!," Dad exclaimed. Um, yeah Dad. The one I dropped in the lake? I did the next best thing and took a few photos with my cellphone camera. It doesn't take great photos, but here it is.
All in all, a great day. Wish they could all be like this one. Happy Father's Day.