The Writings of LaVarr B Webb

We camped with some friends at Pine Lake, north of Bryce Canyon, the last of July, 1988. We should qualify that word "camped." We didn't pitch a tent or build a fire. We pulled our miniature houses, equipped with furnaces, air conditioners, electric lights, gas stoves, gas refrigerators, hot water heaters, and bath rooms fitted with showers and all of the other conveniences of home, between the pine and fir trees, and on to level spots provided by the Forest Service.

The mountain air was crisp, and the queen-size beds were comfortable, but camping? Hardly.

Going to and coming from our "camp," we fished Black Canyon. The first morning, I caught my limit of eight to twelve inch cutthroat and brown trout. I kept five. Most of the cutthroat were fat and of uniform size, ten to twelve inches, so I assume they had been planted. But, Black Canyon is hard fishing for an old man, so I was grateful for the two days "in camp" at Pine Lake.

Heading home, we again stopped on the river, though higher up, south of the Canyon. It was about five o'clock in the afternoon when we arrived. After a quick sandwich, I hiked upstream. As I moved through the sage brush, I noticed that I was constantly kicking up grasshoppers. Using my hat as a swatter, I managed to catch a few.

About a mile upstream from "camp," I started to fish. I fastened one of those grey, organic, miniature helicopters to a number eight snelled hook and dropped it into the water at the top of a big hole. I felt a light tug. I watched my line as it jerked slightly in the water.

Now, I have noticed small browns and cutthroats tend to hit and run. Large browns tend to be very, very careful. I guess that tendency to be careful is what makes it possible for them to grow big. So when I felt that slight tug and saw my line quivering in the water, I thought a large brown was thinking about feasting on grasshopper. I set my hook, and my line sailed out to the middle of the stream. I lifted the tip of my pole, putting some lifting pressure on the line, and I saw a large brown trout roll on the surface, his fat, yellow belly glistening in the sun.

There are few thrills equal to fighting a large trout, in a fairly swift stream, on a fragile fly rod. But, fight we did. He was well hooked. He had swallowed the grasshopper, and the hook was set way down in his gullet. My only concern was whether he might break my tapered leader. But I won. He was 19 inches and four pounds, the biggest fish of the summer.

On down the stream, in another large hole, I caught a 16 inch cutthroat, and later a 11 inch brown. As the sun set behind Mount Dutton, I walked into camp. My fellow fishermen started to raze. "It sure takes you a long time to find that there aren't any fish in that river." "Didn't get a strike, did you?" I let them look into my fishing bag. That nineteen inch, four pound brown was wrapped around the eleven incher, and the fat, sixteen inch cutthroat finished filling up the bag.

One of my good friends said, "That damn guy could catch fish in a bathtub."