By Peter Levy
I've been lucky and I've had some dreams come true. I've skied "High Rustler" in two feet of Utah's legendary fresh powder. I've garnered football, bowling, softball and golf championship trophies. I've been an overall national champion in a sporting event called "Paraski," which involves combining parachuting accuracy and ski racing. One weekend, I even flew to Yosemite Park and skydived off the top of El Capitan, a 3,000 foot vertical, cliff.
So, you see, my life hasn't been devoid of adventure, unless of course, we start talking about my fly fishing career. Then, it's one big misadventure after another. The casting, the guessing which fly to use, and the aggravation of snagging everything but fish, drives me crazy! Boy, do I love being forced into learning patience!!!
But I'm not being fair. Having only started fishing in the summer of 1989, 1 guess I can't expect too much too soon. Yet, I do. That's my obsessive nature.
So, taking the easier way towards my immediate goal of catching fish, I switched to spin fishing. At once, I found it more productive, less annoying, and a lot more fun. Unfortunately, I've somewhat alienated my friend who spent the time and energy involving me in this sport, exclusively through flies.
At any rate, now I am involved in fishing and I love it! No soul can adequately describe what it's like to have that lunker, fighting for its dear life, attached to the end of your gossamer line connected through your rod and reel and leading into your hands and heart. It matches any excitement in any sport I've yet to encounter.
And yes, I've had dreams appear in these two short years of my fishing life — twice in the form of nineteen inch browns, others, in slightly smaller, but harder fighting cutthroats. And once, while standing and casting side by side with a friend, we hooked up with two fourteen inchers; simultaneously, did a dance resembling the "Pretzel," and landed them both. Incredible!
But "the dream-come-true" was just around the corner and the dream maker was Lyle Waldron. He has now become my guru — the one who represents what I can only fantasize becoming and what I may become if heaven has rivers in which trout wander and feed.
About a quarter of a second after my construction boss, Leonard, asked me if I'd like to work near Dutch John, Utah, I responded affirmatively. I left three days later mired with four and a half hours of driving and thinking of my last year's experience with the "great" Green River. Then I had caught one lucky sixteen incher and two more about nine or ten inches while wading at Little Hole. My luck had been terrible whilst rafting on the river and I had come up empty handed. Now I was going to try it again, but first there was work to be done.
And work I did, in the wind, between weather cells and downpours. Yet I enjoyed the wonderful scenery and the people I met. But, that's another story .... Wrong, that is the story!
Late in the last day while I was applicating aluminum siding on a trailer for my company, Specialty Siding, I was approached by this guy who needed some repairs on his mobile home. "Everybody needs some fix-it work," I thought but I said, "OK." I told him I would take care of it later; cost to be determined. He agreed.
Later that evening, after I had fixed the floppy siding, I found him at a neighboring trailer, told him of my fishing woes and demonstrated my fly box. He complimented me on my fine, store bought, fly selection, but I couldn't help but detect a smirk on his face. Actually, he started to giggle. When I discovered that he was a fishing guide for Flaming Gorge Lodge, I quickly understood his amusement, and I longingly sought his help concerning my fly fishing funk.
Well folks, paybacks are the worst! In return for the work I had done on his trailer, the next day, his day off, he told me that he'd take me down the Green. I was in heaven! Hey, wait a minute, being in Dutch John was being in heaven. I was in Nirvana!!
Alas, that only lasted a brief time. The following morning, the trip began. For the first mile and a half, Lyle only castigated me — about every aspect of my flyfishing technique. At least he laughed between his ranting phrases. Needless to say, I caught only every third word of his offerings, and no fish as well. So, we stopped meandering upon his marvelously equipped river boat for a moment, and, while I was trying to rebound from my abdolute failure, he made one cast, and landed a fish! It was big and beautiful. I went berserk. Who did this guy think he was? A professional? Ah, but I loved it. I just couldn't believe it, but I had no choice. I was traveling with Rod Sterling, Walt Disney, and Gene Roddenberry all at the same time. Yes, this was unreal!
Another mile, and another session of consternation and amusement (from both of us). But I, at least, got to jerk the fly away from several fish and that got me pumped! Oh well, another rest stop, another repeat of the last. Another fish for Lyle! Damn him, he's lucky!
Finally, yes finally, somewhere downstream from misery and upstream from sadness, I wrestled in a beauty. It only took about six or eight strikes before I lost the panic mode and I sent a thunderous echo down the canyon with my "GOTCHA!" Oh boy was I proud! But while I was basking in my glory, "Mr. Upstage" made a couple of flings with his deadly weapon, and you got it, he boated another fish that could have replaced his anchor. Maybe he's better than lucky?
Now there was no question that this man, who teaches powder skiing at Snowbird in the winter (when else?) has the skill to catch trout in MY presence (he certainly couldn't have done it without me!). Little did I understand his ability to deftly guide his boat down this beautiful river, not only avoiding danger, but keeping this fisherperson faced and positioned towards the perfect fishing spots. This all took place during his discourse upon river structure, boating management, the political ramifications of the road to Little Hole being paved, and the convulsions he endured as a result of watching me flail my fly (actually I only hooked him three times). Only after he entrusted the oars to me had I the slightest notion of his boating expertise. I barely managed to keep us off the banks. We stopped Mother Nature's gravitational pull a few more times. We had to when I was at the helm. I operate a boat about as well as I do a fly rod.
But, at least I took a lot of pictures of Lyle's would-be trophies. We enjoyed. How could we not?
Ultimately I landed three, all big, all gorgeous. That's not very proficient, considering that I had fifteen interested parties. He, being "the other person aboard," hauled in too many to recollect, which, I hate to admit, was nice. You see, he doesn't fish on his "runs" with customers, so today, he recertified his know-how and fly fishing prowess. He re-uped big time. It was quite an honor to share these few moments of his life and my time with him.
His "Mai Tai" flies performed magic. But it goes way beyond the fly. It exists in the person, that lives with the fish, that dwell in the river, that flows with the riverman, who cherishes life and nature. It's a perfect circle of beautiful thought and proportion.
With all of my luck, realized dreams, and good fortune, I will gladly pay for my next trip to be guided (by a pro), along the Green River. Not only for the education, but for the unique experience of reliving a dream. Try it yourself. Do it! Have a fantasy come true. I did. Thanx, Lyle, you more-than-lucky devil, you! I love Ya!
Copyright Dave Webb, 2005