I recently ran across an old Utah Fishing & Outdoors article entitled, "The Upper Provo Wilbur" by Leonard C. Morris, who described his experiences as a young man learning the art of fly fishing from Bishop William S. Winegar. To my surprise, the man he spoke of was my grandfather! He was one of the early Utah legends of fly fishing. I remember Grandfather Winegar as a tall handsome man, Bishop of the 11th Ward, and owner of the Utah Electric Motor Company. He always had a smile on his face and a contagious optimism about life.
During the 1930s and '40s Grandpa Winegar ensured that his sons and most of the neighborhood received an opportunity to experience the joys of fly fishing. He regularly gave the boys casting practice at Liberty park, followed up by trips to the Provo River in pursuit of wild trout. His 11 principles on fooling wily trout were as sound then as they are today.
I wish I could have had the opportunity to spend time learning the art of fly fishing from grandfather, but he died when I was very young. I do remember those cold fall afternoons with Dad and Grandfather, huddled in our duck blind on Utah Lake, patiently waiting for our decoys to entice those big mallards into range. When Grandfather came home with his sons, and grandsons, Grandmother Winegar would turn those ducks into a Thanksgiving feast! It was a rare day that Grandpa and the boys would get skunked!
My Uncle Wen Winegar and Leonard Morris became lifelong friends from those early experiences fly fishing with Grandfather. Uncle Wen passed away shortly after Leonard's article was published and was a good father and skilled fly fisherman in his own right. Of course he was taught by the master!.
At Uncle Wen's funeral, I took pause and reflected on my most cherished experiences while growing up. Those were the memories of my father taking me fly fishing during our backpacking adventures in the Uinta Mountains. Even though my father, James Winegar, passed away suddenly while I was only 12 years old, I still remember him teaching his little "fishing pal" to cast and catch fish just as Grandfather had taught him at Liberty Park in his youth. In an old worn family photo album lie the black and white exposures showing Dad's loving arm around me, with our fly rods in hand, deep in the beautiful Uinta Mountains. They were always a little off center, as we had to set the camera on a stump on automatic and run to get into position.
I pray that we can preserve these wild places for generations to come, and thank my Grandfather and Dad for the memories and love they gave me for the great outdoors.
About the author: A native of Utah and graduate of the University of Utah, I returned to Utah in 1992 after completing an 8 year career as a pilot in the US Air Force. I am a pilot for Delta Airlines, and on my days off, I work for a local outfitter as a flyfishing guide.