The Writings of LaVarr B Webb

Chalk Creek, above where it makes a right angle turn and heads west, down canyon, toward Coalville, was, I think, the most beautiful and productive fishing stream in Utah. Giant, conical, limb layered, conifers sheltered rustic, grass carpeted camp grounds, and the tree covered ridges and peaks of the high Uintas, wild and primitive to the east and the south, wrapped around the creek and the camp sites.

And the stream, itself, talked my language as it murmured along, clear and cold, but in no big hurry, bumping up against big boulders and the debris of fallen trees and beaver gnawed willow and quaking aspen limbs, shaping the eddies and pools where monster trout lived.

I had a favorite camp spot near the constantly singing and gurgling creek. Great fir trees, for a hundred years or more, had dropped needles and cones building up a natural mattress of vast proportions on which bed rolls were laid. The fire pit, carved out of the grassy sod, and shaped by football sized rocks, was just a few short steps from the water of the stream, and my favorite fishing hole was less than a hundred yards away.

Early in the summer of 1941, I and my new wife made a comfortable camp there. We had traveled from Salt Lake in our long, slim, streamlined 1936 Studebaker Dictator coupe, our camping and fishing gear jammed into the rumble seat.

My wife, a farmer's daughter, knew little about fishing, so I was going to give her a few lessons. I had a fly pole, fly line, and an expensive tapered leader. I attached a Mormon Girl fly to the leader with a short piece of gut. I dropped the dry fly in the ripples above the hole, and it bounced along, floating on the surface like a proud, but gaudy, insect.

On the second or third cast, I let the fly drift under some brush near the far bank. Suddenly there was a slight swirl in the water, and my fly disappeared. I set my hook, and a mighty, fighting, six to eight pound rainbow came up out of the water, dove, and then headed for the rough rapids at the bottom of the hole. I gently put pressure on the line, and he turned, and under full power, like a run-a-way submarine, sliced through the water to the top of the hole. We battled like that for some time, me not daring to put much pressure on the line, and him, using his weight, strength, and the water pressure of the stream to fight for his life.

After several minutes, he became tired, and I began to edge him toward the bank, but there was a six to eight inch shelf between the top of the bank and the stream, and every time I tried to lift him up and over the shelf, he flapped and flipped so violently that I was afraid he would break my line.

My wife was behind me, and from the very beginning when I hooked the fish, and she saw it polishing up and down the stream, she jumped up and down, in place, and yelled, "You got a big one; you got a big one."

And as I tried to lift the fish up out of the water and on to the bank, I yelled, "Help me; grab it; do something."

But she just jumped up and down and repeated, "You got a big one; you got a big one."

She didn't have to tell me I had a big one. I knew it; I could feel it; I could see it, and I knew I was going to lose it. I tried, again. I begged her to reach down and grasp that flapping fish, but she would not. To this day, I don't know whether she was afraid of it, or whether she just didn't understand what I wanted her to do.

Finally, I gave a little harder tug on the pole, the fish came up out of the water, its nose bored into the bank, and it broke my line. My big rainbow, my Mormon Girl fly, and my six foot tapered leader flopped back into the water and disappeared. I dropped my pole, and went in after them. I cruised under water for fifteen minutes, looking for my tapered leader with that mammoth fish hooked to it, and then, when I crawled out on the bank, my helpful fisherman's wife asked me whether I was shedding creek water or crying tears.

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And so the memories linger, even as the years go by. My farmer's daughter wife has been gone now for several years. She bore and raised l0 kids, but she never did become much of a fisherwoman.

And the tall timber of Chalk Creek is pretty much off limits today; the private landowners have closed access, allowing only members of private clubs to sample the stream's delights.

But nothing can erase the memories of those good times on Chalk Creek.