Merwin: A BMW-Free Fish Hunt

Nearly a couple of weeks ago, I described my yearning to find some trout rivers "off the grid" meaning the kinds of places where I wouldn't find a BMW sedan in a roadside pull-out, its vanity license plates proclaiming "dry fly." That would mean heading north, I noted, instead of south as I often have done for trout fishing in well-known waters. So I did just that last weekend. Here's what happened.

My wife and I loaded camping and fishing gear in the truck and made a long trek up-country. Armed with detailed maps and the advice of a friend who had once been a local in those parts, we found a very nice river indeed. I am not naming places here on purpose. Some may well guess where we were, but--please--let's leave specifics out of any discussion.

This is a steep, boulder-strewn river with occasional fishy-looking pools behind huge boulders or shaped by rocky ledges. My wife (pictured) almost immediately began taking trout from one such pool on a size 16 parachute Adams dry. I mostly sat on a nearby rock and watched, very happy that she who fly fishes only intermittently was able to find success and the longer-term encouragement that catching a few fish inevitably brings.

We spent most of the weekend on reconnaissance, covering about 30 miles of river by adjacent highways and back roads, coffee and maps in hand, finding and marking access points for future reference. That in itself was almost as much fun as fishing the river where, refreshingly, we saw not another fly angler all weekend. There were a few other fishermen who appeared to be locals, intently worm-fishing the river holes at bridge crossings.

Anyway, I've found another place to go and had so much fun with the exploration that we're doing it again in a few days--a little farther north and west this time, to check out some more water I've heard a little about but never seen. As is so often true, the hunt is turning out to be at least as much fun as the catch....