If you're going to be a farmer, you could pick a worse place.
With mountain biking, downhill biking, and an insane hike under my belt during my stay at Grand Targhee on the west side of the Tetons, I figured I was in for yet another new-sport coup: I'd never fly fished before, but if the past days' pattern held, I'd sink the boat with bloated trout.
The day started well enough: Journeying into the Idaho farmlands toward the Teton River, the Tetons roared up behind us, offering an alternate but equally compelling view of the famous range. Our put-in was near the site of a famous 1974 blowout of the earthen Teton dam, which killed 11 people and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. (There's talk of building a new dam, which fly fishermen and groups like Trout Unlimited vehemently oppose.)
Demonstrating perfect technique.
Our intrepid guides for the day included Kasey Collins and Levi Doria from Victor, Idaho-based World Cast Anglers. They patiently and clearly showed us the basics of casting, stripping, setting, and a whole bunch of other key techniques, all while dropping deep lore on the ecology and history of the Teton River. Their encyclopedic knowledge of insect hatches, fly usage, and animal behavior provided perfect color commentary as we made our way down gentle rapids and through deep-cut sections of river canyon.
Their masterful technique worked for everyone...except me. My clumsy cast nabbed exactly zero fish, but you can't blame the guides or beginner's curse: Frank Main, a fellow beginning fly-fisherman and friggin' crime reporter from the Chicago Sun-Times, landed seven or eight fat cutthroat trout. Everyone else broke double-digit catches of fish. I think a few trout took mercy on me and willingly swallowed my errant flies, and I still couldn't close the deal.
Not that I'm complaining. A day spent out on a gorgeous, trout-swollen river surrounded by good company is a win as far as I'm concerned. But next time I might bring a spear.
Image Credit: Shannon Brooks Hamby