There comes a time when it feels like you've tried everything. We had fished fast and slow water. Skinny runs and deep pools. Off the banks and in the middle. Dries and wet flies, both big and small. Nymphs, emergers, dry droppers, hopper droppers, two flies, one fly, weighted flies, with and without split shot. Swinging, stripping, tightlining, dead drifting. Up and down, left to right, and all over that water, you name it, we’d fished it!
It felt good to be fishing and catching fish.
We went up the Stillwater River into the Beartooth Mountains. Past Sioux Charlie and Frenchy’s meadow. Beyond Cutoff Mountain. Further than I had ever gone. Until we reached the valley where Slough Creek flows down into Yellowstone Park. Vibrant green pine saplings blanketed the earth beneath tall grey sticks the fires left along the slopes until they reached the high edges of rockslides and steep granite. When the wind blew wildflowers in the grasses swayed and made fleeting purple waves in the pastures. We were alone. I was twenty years old, and thought I knew how special it was. Knew how small I was in the mountains. How precious that time was. Now I understand it was more than I could have known then.