By David M. Bresnahan
Four months is an eternity for a Boy Scout waiting to go on his first fishing trip to the Green River. The excitement in each boy in the troop grew steadily as the long-awaited day of departure arrived.
The week before we left was the longest of their lives. Tackle boxes were emptied and repacked a dozen times. Fly casting practice became a daily routine in yards and fields around the neighborhood.
Parents reported finding their sons tying flies late at night preparing to do battle on the great river. And at any given time in the after-school hours, you could usually locate any number of boys from the troop in one of the local tackle shops.
I really pity the poor teachers who had to try to teach my Boy Scouts the Friday we were leaving. Not one of those kids could think of schoolwork that day. Their thoughts were 225 miles away, and their eyes never left the seemingly frozen hands of the clock.
Talk during the five-hour trip, at least in my truck, centered on past fishing trips, stories of great fish (caught and escaped), what flies we should use, sections of the river to fish, and who would catch the biggest fish. Each had his own opinion, and a story to match those told by anyone else.
We arrived at 11 p.m. and were grateful to find a vacant camp site so late at night. It didn't take very long to set up tents and settle in. You would think they would have been exhausted from the long trip, but the chatter of excited boys filled to the brim with anticipation of high adventure could be heard for hours.
My alarm was set for 6 a.m., but I awoke to the sounds of kids putting on waders at 5! Where do they find all that energy and motivation? Somehow I managed to crawl out thinking that even condemned men aren't shot until sunrise.
Breakfast wasn't anything special that morning. Doughnuts, milk, juice, and Apple Jacks were the general menu of men and boys alike. There were more important things to do than eat right.
Despite assurances of a full knowledge of the necessary knots of fly casting, the requests for help started coming in. Over-excitement and impatience seemed to defeat more than one boy's efforts to tie an improved cinch.
This was also when I discovered such things as line wound the wrong way onto a reel, flies tied to fly line without the benefit of leader or tippet, and leaders that were dried, cracked and chipped.
Finally, vehicles, equipment, men and boys were all ready. We descended on Little Hole like buzzards circling ever closer for the kill. Each of us now had only one thought. A Green River trophy trout!
We couldn't have picked a nicer weekend for our expedition. The cool morning developed into a warm, sunny day. The river provided great scenery and occasional wildlife. The reaction of some of the boys to the sight of deer on the banks and ducks overhead reminded me that by fall their young minds would be seeking adventure of a different kind.
The fish seemed to have been waiting for us and our early start proved to be an advantage. One after another, we all began to bring them in. None of us caught anything less than 16 inches all day.
It's a hard thing for a boy to release a fish he has waited four months to catch. The regulations on the Green River provided an opportunity for the boys to all gain an understanding of the catch-and-release policy that has helped to make the Green the great river it is.
Then the boys faced another dilemma. What do you do when you catch a beautiful 22-inch rainbow? Since you can only keep one fish over 20 inches, do you let him go with the hope of catching an even bigger fish, or do you keep him only to regret it later if you catch a 5-pound brown?
Difficult choices for any kid! I have to admit I, too, had to stop and think as I released my first rainbows of the day. Throughout the day I continued to release fish I would give my teeth to tie into on other rivers.
Nothing stopped the boys that day. Not leaks in waders, tangled lines, nor flies whipped to a frazzle. Not even hunger stopped those kids. It took over an hour to coax each boy to leave the river and head home again.
Each boy had found his own success. Each went home with a prized catch, a photo or two, stories of great conquests, great confidence, improved skills, a greater love for the outdoors, closer friendships, and the start of a longing that will grow stronger and stronger until it pulls them back to the waters of the Green.
About the author: David Bresnahan wrote this while serving as he Scoutmaster of Midvale Boy Scout Troop 674. He began fishing with his father and grandfather many years ago. A transplant from Massachusetts, he now fishes throughout Utah. He is the owner of Emerald Communication, the communications director of the Fusion Information Center, and is a freelance writer and photographer.
Copyright Dave Webb, 2005