Growing up, my Dad wasn’t into fishing so in the years before heavy chores began I hid my old hand-me-down fly-fishing rod near the low-lying Ora Bridge between our ranch and where I went to school in the town of Ashton, Idaho. Photographer Daryl L. Hunter’s image below shows a sunrise over the Teton Mountains taken from Ashton.
The tiny bridge crosses the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River in the shallow tailwaters, just below the century-old Ashton Power Dam and Reservoir as that North Fork winds its way from the mountains down to a rendezvous on the plain 50 miles south and a bit west with the South Fork flowing out of Wyoming.
I’ve learned as an adult that the the Henry’s Fork including the half mile of riffles and runs just above the Ora Bridge down through the deeper, spring-fed portion a couple of miles downriver to the Vernon Bridge (and even a bit further to the Chester Bridge) reportedly yields some of the best for trout fly-fishing in the world. There is even a lodge now a short distance from there.
To me it was just convenient. Each bridge was just a mile from the ranch homesteaded by my paternal grandparents and great grandparents then run by my parents.
Teaming with a friend who lived one ranch north, we talked the bus driver into dropping us at the bridge on the way home, fish for a while, stow our gear again in the rocks and walk the mile home in time for chores. Even back then we all knew to catch and release and besides, growing up on a horse and cattle ranch we were steak and potatoes people.
I didn’t think my Dad ever knew about my fish-hooky but in his belongings sent to me a few months after his funeral in 2001 was my little metal fly- box.
In the months after I turned age 15 I drifted away from fishing after nearly losing an eye when I was run over by a frightened pack horse during a Boy Scout fishing trip into the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area along the border of Idaho and Montana. Or maybe as I got my learners permit and then drivers license, I just got too busy with cars, girls and sports, I guess.
It all came back to me as I gave my 7 year old grandson his first fly-fishing rod and reel for his birthday last month. I’ll do the same for my then-to-be 6 year old grandson in July along with a small pouch chocked full of flies and accessories for both of them to use. I fished off a dock with them last summer during a lake trip and the utter joy they exhibited flooded me with memories.
I’m primarily an introvert by nature. I was able to succeed in the highly extrovert career of community destination marketing but in this year of retirement, I’ve learned just how much more natural and relaxed I am with hobbies like reading, writing this blog, riding my Harley Cross Bones, and spending time with my Bulldog Mugsy.
I enjoy having more time with family and of course I still enjoy enjoy friends but just one or two at a time.
Fly-fishing too is ideal for introverts. They are doing repairs on the Ashton Dam over the next year or so to remedy a sediment issue but when they are complete, maybe I’ll run the boys and my daughter, their Mom, up from their home in Utah to experience fly-fishing from the Ora Bridge and the Henry’s Fork to see if it is just as much fun for them now that I’m aware the river is in the fly-fishing hall of fame.
One thing I know for sure is that this old introvert relishes his time with two little chatty boys who never stop bubbling over with the joys of living.