The Tireless Pursuit of an Elusive Trout Grand SlamSeven anglers from New York met at Falcon’s Ledge for a three day fly fishing trip. They were brought together by Adam Cook, the fishing manager of the Buffalo, NY Orvis store. It was my privilege to guide Adam the year prior during his visit to the lodge, and he wanted to come back for more. This year, I was fortunate to guide Bill and Mike, two clients of his that were retired educators… they were relatively new to fly fishing, but definitely had the desire and the passion to learn. Before breakfast on our first day together, we talked about the quest for a grand slam… catching four species of trout, all on the same river on the same day. Bill and Mike were up for the challenge. Our first day took us to a beautiful freestone river, in the Uinta Mountains. The fish were plentiful and the weather was great. Mike was first to the grand slam. Just an hour after lunch, he caught a nice Cutthroat that completed his quest. We gave each other a high five, snapped a quick picture and then released the fish. Bill caught his share of Brook, Brown and Rainbow trout that day too; however, the Cutthroat eluded every fly that was at the end of his line. Day two would take us to another river in the same mountain range, equally capable of producing a grand slam. Even though a storm gathered overhead, we remained undaunted in our quest. The first with a fish on was Bill. We picked a nice deep hole just after a shallow run, and as soon as his fly hit the water, a Rainbow took it… fish on! Bill was extremely excited… and we both felt that this would be his day. Mike caught several Browns and Rainbows, and he even managed to land a very nice Cutthroat, but no Brook trout. Meanwhile, Bill had landed some nice Rainbows and Browns and one small Brook trout, but was still without a Cutthroat. We had a two hour reprieve from fishing as the pending storm finally rolled in. We put our fly rods down and cinched up our jackets and hoods… the rain was coming downinbuckets. We waited out the lightening and when it was deemed safe, we resumed fishing. Both anglers landed a couple of more fish… none of which were a Cutthroat or Brook trout… day two was in the bag. Our third and final day would take us to yet another river near the lodge. We walked a dirt road down river about 300 yards and began to fish some more. Bill caught a couple of nice browns and a couple of rainbows and a small white fish. Mike hooked into a couple of fish as well, a nice rainbow and a few smaller browns. It began to rain, and there was a fear of ending the day early… but the lightening stayed away and we fished on… after all, there is no bad weather, only bad gear.
Sometimes, the grand slam comes quick… I’ve had a client catch all four species of trout in the first hour of fishing and then exclaim “Wow! That was easy… you made it sound like it was tough.” Sometimes, despite my best efforts, clients have left empty handed… wondering what a Cutthroat actually looks like. On other days, the pursuit of the grand slam takes you to the limit… today was that day… as I counted the combinations of flies that we used, No. 13 turned out to be lucky after all.