The Writings of LaVarr B Webb

I think I have lived during the best of all times. As a boy, if I wanted to get from here to there, I walked, rode a horse, or lurched over dirt roads in a horse drawn wagon. Yet, I have traveled on four lane freeways in air conditioned automobiles from coast to coast. I saw what was probably the first airplane to land near St. George, Utah. It ran out of gas, landed in a field, and the whole town turned out to see it. Yet, I have traveled from Las Vegas to Hawaii in less time than it took that plane to fly from St. George to Salt Lake. I have seen men earn their living by riding bucking, snorting, fire breathing broncs, yet I have seen bucking, snorting, fire breathing metal bronks blast off from earth and glide through the far reaches of space to send back pictures of planets and moons that men hadn't dreamed of when I was a boy, and then I have actually seen men walk on the moon.

I suffered wracking toothaches while on fishing trips as a boy, and I visited Painless Withers, a dentist in Salt Lake, who pulled teeth for $1.00. He was a small man, and when he found that he couldn't deaden my jaw and block the pain, he literally climbed up in my lap and tried to pull an impacted tooth with forceps and what looked like a small crow bar; yet I have seen the miracles of fluorides and even tooth implants or replacements.

I have had buck deer with as many as fourteen points lined up in the sights of my gun, and as a boy, I have caught my limit, twenty trout, in one day with ease. On Blue Mountain in San Juan County, I watched a big grey wolf, sitting on his haunches with his tongue hanging out, as he, in turn, watched me, and I have heard wolves howl just beyond the firelight as I camped in Yellowstone, and on that trip, I saw large cut throat trout, thousands of them, that no one could catch, idly resting in the waters of Yellowstone Lake near Fishing Bridge.

It was in June of 1941. I and my old fishing buddy, Jake Amundsen, had brought our wives, and my mother to Yellowstone to see the sights. Jake and I also wanted to fish at Fishing Bridge. We put on our boots, and waded out into where the water flows out of the lake into the Yellowstone River. There were other fishermen on the banks and in the river, and the fish were all around us. I watched them. They gathered around my feet, but I couldn't catch them. No one could catch them because they wouldn't bite or strike.

I tried flies, including my favorite Mormon Girl. I tried spinners, worms, and flatfish, but the fish were not interested. Finally, I walked up to a shop that sold fishing tackle, and I asked the clerk, "What do the fish here usually take?"

He showed me a brass spinner with two red beads. The blade was about one-and-one-quarter-inches in diameter, and there was a quarter inch bead below it and above it. I took it to the river, and tried it. The fish ignored it. Then I put a worm on it, and the fish still ignored it. I took the treble hook off, and fastened a snelled hook in its place. Then I put a worm on the snelled hook. That placed the worm about eight inches from the blade of the spinner.

I cast out, and the current carried the spinner and the baited hook down the stream, the spinner blade lazily, and periodically flopping over and flashing in the sun. Wham, I had a strike and a battle on my hands. I cast out again with the same result, and Jake stood there with his mouth open. I showed him my rig, and he raced for the tackle shop.

We caught our limit of those big Yellowstone cutthroat trout every day, and our fellow fishermen stood there and gaped. It was the best of times.