I stopped fishing a year after leaving high school. Time was the most significant factor, but honestly, it was no longer enjoyable. Several years later, I am finding the time and actual enjoyment of fishing. Wanting to spend time with my girlfriend for her birthday in April, we grabbed a couple of breakfast burritos, our poles and headed out for a morning of fishing. Between casts and eating our burritos, we hatched a plan to attempt the Wyoming Cutt Slam fishing challenge. We talked to several people who had successfully caught all four fish, how they did it, where they went, what time of year, and accepted any advice on what to use to catch the cutthroats. With a mindset on an adventure, the four of us would tent camp with the June date drawing near.
Armed with maps, fishing notes, and an agreement that if one of us could not catch one of the cutthroats, we would return another time, we set out. On this trip, we planned to catch only three of the four. On the first day, we hit our first creek. There was complete excitement trying for the Bonneville cutthroat. By mid-afternoon, we began fishing and broke into two groups, but stayed close together if something happened. We fished into the early evening without landing a fish, so we decided to head to a campground and fish the lake. The Bonnevilles wanted nothing to do with what we were trying to offer them, so the night and early morning proved unsuccessful. We agreed to break camp and head back to the river we were on the previous day. Within minutes of fishing, Tia landed the first Bonneville, recharging all our attitudes.
Shortly after, Amy landed the next Bonneville. Feeling we were on fire, we tried moving down the river without success. We decided to set up camp at the campground, have dinner, then Carrie and I set out again – moving to a different location. Carrie caught her Bonneville around 6 pm that evening, and I felt defeated but wanted one more chance. I decided to get up at the crack of dawn and try the river one more time. I had two hours before it was time to move on to the Snake River Cutthroat. Carrie came along, trying to lift my spirits and help me decide what to use that would entice the fish to bite. We split up, keeping each other insight. With 15 minutes left, I landed the Bonneville!! Screams of excitement echoed, and after jumping around for a second, I took a quick couple of pictures to prove I caught it. Then, a quick release and back to camp.
Our next fish was the Snake River Cutthroat. We planned to go past Wilson, Wyoming, head to Fall Creek, find a good hole, and catch this one quickly. We did take a few hours to tour some of Jackson Hole and take a few tourist pictures, check out a local fly-fishing shop, and then hit the road. The Snake River Cutthroat would be the quickest and most triumphant moment for our group. We caught our fish in less than two hours then stayed in Wilson. We met up with some old friends and made new friends in the process. Two Cutts under our belts meant for a great night and early birthday celebration for Amy. But then, we woke up to less than 32 degrees the next morning and had to scrape ice off windshields – not what we wanted.
The day warmed up, so we packed and headed to land the Yellowstone cutthroat. We knew we wanted to fish in a lake around Dubois. We had opted to stay in a cabin for the next two nights as the weather would get cold, and tucking into our bags wouldn’t be something we would enjoy. After settling into the cabin, we headed for the lake; reading the map and directions, we found the next point. Tia landed the first Yellowstone, and what a beauty! Only on her second cast, but it took a couple of hours before Amy landed the next Yellowstone. We hiked out and headed back to camp for showers, lunch, and then (the last two again) Carrie and Diane headed back fishing into the evening. Several knotted lines lost lures, and a frustrating night sent us back to the cabin heavy-hearted.
We had discussed hiring a fishing guide to help us with the Yellowstone. After a couple more hours, I landed the next fish. When that fish bit, I felt like I had smoke coming off my reel as fast as I was reeling. Carrie shared in my excitement with photos and releasing the fish. The next morning, all of us decided we wanted to help Carrie catch her fish. We did what we called Olympic style fishing. We all kept a pole tangle free and ready so that when she lost a lure or got tangled, one of us would take the pole and give her a fresh one. Our little trick didn’t work, and after the temperature dropped significantly and the snow started to fall, Carrie decided her trip was over. We hiked out quietly, discussing when our next trip would be for the fourth and final fish.
Only Diane and Carrie could make it for a weekend in August. We headed out on a Friday late afternoon with intentions of fishing early Saturday morning. Unfortunately, we forgot the map, and Onyx maps were not working as it should have. We ended up lost for a couple of hours, though we did get to see some beautiful country. Regrouping and finding our way, we knew we were on the right path driving along the river we wanted and looking for the perfect spot to fish. And we found it! I finished the Cutt Slam with what we called the Guppy Colorado cutthroat. As I was securing my pole and pack, I heard crashing through the bushes behind me. For a split second, I believed I was going to be a late lunch for a grizzly bear, trying to grab my bear spray and jumping up onto the bank because I didn’t want my body dragged into the bushes; I looked straight down into a cow looking for her calf that was now behind me. Huge relief washed over me, knowing I wasn’t a grizzly snack today. Carrie caught her third fish five minutes later. Elated, we headed in for the night, planning the remainder of the trip for the final fish. The next morning, we loaded up around 4 am headed towards Jackson, then onto Dubois. Carrie decided she wanted to fish public sections along the Wind River. She caught the first fish of the day, even though it wasn’t the Cutt. We leapfrogged each other on the river. I was changing out my lures when Carrie’s scream could be heard in Teton county! She had caught her fourth and final fish – the Yellowstone! I dropped everything but the lures and my knife to run and help her.
The Wyoming Cutt Slam was an amazing adventure that four ladies set out on, researched, planned, and executed on all public land and got it done. Tia and Amy have the last to catch, but the great thing is that there is no deadline. Carrie and I hope to ride along for the last of a great adventure of four ladies and one tent!