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Finding Green on the Green (River)

The third annual RMF fishing trip was in March to the famed Green River in Utah. After lots of boasting, posturing, and haranguing, only five fishermen made the trip. What, we have a bunch of fair weathered TU members? One, who will remain unnamed to protect his ego, chickened out at the last minute over the weather forecast. We still made him send over the dinner he had agreed to make. It was a scrumptious homemade spaghetti dish, and now more for the rest of us!

Fears about weather turned out to be nothing. We had watched the road reports closely near Elk Mountain on I-80 outside of Laramie, and WDOT opened I-80 about three hours before we left. Compared to years past, it was relatively smooth sailing to the Green River. Last year we had to take the back way through Vernal, Utah and Grand Junction to get home in 11 hours instead of 6. Utah doesn’t plow 191 on the weekends. That’s a little tip for you all who are interested in the trip next year!

One of the Green River fish
One of the Green River fish caught by an RMF member
When we got to Dutch John, Utah, we hooked up with two of our buds who had left early, driving through Steamboat, to fish Friday afternoon. It had been tough going; Guy had landed a couple, but John (not his real name, but an appropriate pseudonym) had not landed a fish. To make matters worse, John had left his rod and reel in the back seat of his car, which was in Fort Collins. He had to fish with a spare from Guy, but Guy’s reels are all set up for lefties! Was this, coupled with the fact that Cruel Jack’s restaurant (by I-80 on 191 and our habitual spot for a meal on the way in) was closed, a bad omen? Not to fear, the next morning brought bright blue skies and a high of 45. My son and I hired a guide and floated the upper section on the Green. It was glorious! Maybe the guide was poking fun at my age, but he said we had an AARP day—at least 65 fish in the boat!

John and our other friends had not fared so well. The walk and wade routine was a little early for the BWO hatch that the Green is famous for in April. They had each scratched out a few fish on midges. John, however, discovered his waders had a big hole and his jeans were soaked. At least there’s always extra equipment when you fish with RMF and we had loaned him spare reel for right handers and a pair of waist waders.

Sunday morning, we all caught fish just upstream of the put-in ramp, with Lance teaching us a thing or two about fishing nymphs without an indicator. Sunday’s weather was even better, almost up to 60 degrees, and the trout were a little more willing. Guy and Lance caught fish on #26 midge dries. I got to watch Guy land a 15 inch deep brown on 8X tippet. I had never seen 8X before and said so, whereupon Guy produced 10X and 12X tippet for my viewing pleasure. Those Easterners are either OCD or masochistic!

Unfortunately, John had a really crappy day. Please let me explain my adjective! While John was taking a leak in privy down by the boat ramp, he forgot he was wearing my son’s spare waist waders. John “always” zips his wallet into his waders—except for today. Today he had simply put his wallet into his hooded sweatshirt pocket. Well, you get the picture. Before he could blink, John watched his wallet, containing all his credit cards, fishing license, kid pictures and cash for the trip, momentarily float then disappear into to the murky, stinky, cesspool…. Well, like I said you get the picture, and it ain’t pretty!

Next thing I know, I am watching all John’s gear coming flying out the door of the privy. I go in to find John ripping the plastic toilet off the cement hole (I didn’t know those things even came off!) His color is ashen and he’s breathing heavy as he explains the “shituation.”  This is no time for laughter as John explains that all of his cash is in that wallet. I stand helplessly by as John lowers his head and shoulders into the hole to attempt to fish the wallet out with his fishing net. No luck, at least not the good kind. I get the bright idea to go ask a guide at the boat ramp to help. I explain the problem and look longingly at his long handled boat net, but he doesn’t volunteer it. “Maybe the Forest Service Office in Dutch John can help, but they aren’t open until Monday.” Yeah, right I think. What are they going to do?

After a time, John cleans up his net, puts back the toilet and attempts a smile. We continue fishing and assure him “It’s all going be alright.” To John’s credit, he says, “I can’t let this ruin my day.” My son Greg is empathetic to John, but chuckles unmercifully to himself the rest of the day. The rest of us just shrug and chalk it up to “one of those things.”

The next morning, we all get up early to pack up, check out, and get a couple hours on the river before going home. A front is moving in, so it’s time to get 191 past us. The last thing I see as I leave Flaming Gorge Lodge is John on hold with some official or another, trying to find out his options. Poor John doesn’t look too good. He had taken a really long shower the night before, but he had hardly slept after replaying the what if’s, shoulda, coulda’s, and “Honey, you won’t believe this” conversation all night long.

Well, about 1 p.m. we all meet up before getting on the road to home. We share a few fishing stories and pass the digital cameras around. Lance got a 19 inch brown up by the dam. Guy had a couple of nice 17 inchers on dries, and Greg found a spot near boat ramp #3 he claims to have caught 18 out of. John doesn’t say much and we hate to ask. Of course we do. “John did you catch anything?”

“No, I had five hook-ups, but couldn’t land ’em” he says. I notice he doesn’t seem too upset by that, and I can’t resist my curiosity.

Quietly, I ask him, “Any luck with the Forest Service?”

A pause, then a huge grin. “I got it back!”

“WHAT?” my eavesdropping son says. “you got your wallet? How?” We all gather around.

One of the Green River catches
The catch
“Well,” John says, “it seems like this has happened before. This Forest Service Supervisor brings me this clasper tool, some latex gloves, disinfectant and a bucket. I couldn’t find the wallet with the clasper, so he brings me a rake from his truck. I just kept raking through the “stuff” until I snagged my wallet. The guy, says to hold it there, and grabs it off the rake with the clasper and drops in the bucket of disinfectant. It only took about 15 minutes! I threw out the wallet, cleaned up the cards and money and got it all back!” He shows us the gallon zip lock bag with the wallet contents in it proudly displayed. Greg gets a picture of John and his baggie just like we would with a prize fish!

“Hey, I’m ready to settle up for the room with you now,” John says smiling, reaching in the bag for the bills.

“No!” we all say in unison. “You hold on to that, you can pay us back later. Just deposit those bills or something.” Yep, it’s always fun to go fishing with new friends and with this chapter; you never know what you’ll catch. Sometimes the fishin’ stinks, but usually you come out smilin’!

submitted by Lee Evans, April 2010

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Last updated on 11 Jun, 2011