Wyoming Wilderness Trout

We loaded up our old Ford truck and horse trailer and departed the stifling July heat of Oklahoma. My wife Becky, daughter Dell Ann, mule Pete and I were headed for high adventure and trout fishing in the cool mountains of east central Wyoming.

Our goal was to experience alpine wilderness country and, hopefully, dine on trout every evening.

Around noon of our second day of travel we arrived in Pinedale, Wyoming, which is about 80 miles southeast of Jackson. After lunch, a little gift shopping, and some stocking-up of supplies, we headed north toward the Green River Lakes area. Access was by means of U.S. Highway #191 to 11 miles northwest of Pinedale, and then north on 352 until it’s termination at the Green River trailhead.

You never know what you are going to run into in the Bridger Wilderness Area in Wyoming.

Our first evening was spent relaxing and enjoying the very tremendous country around us. A short, late-evening hike on the trail up the Green River drainage rewarded us with the much celebrated (and post card adorned) view of Square-Top mountain; it was awesome!

With the light of the next morning, preparations for the hike in began. Gear and food were sorted into panniers, which were then securely loaded on our trusty mule, breakfast hastily taken, and we were off. There was a spring in everyone’s step … until the trail began to get steep!

Upon reaching the upper end of the first of the Green River Lakes, we turned left onto the Clear Creek trail, climbing steadily. Clear Creek roared below thanks to the perennial snowfields far above. Our goal was to make it to Clear Lake, approximately four miles upstream, in time to make a good camp and do a little fishing. I thought a meal of fresh, golden trout, and a good night’s rest, would re-charge our batteries for the days of exploration to come.

There were numerous lakes, some named, others not, that were located up the drainage from our base camp, and all were simply begging to be experienced. Did they have fish in them, or were they sterile? Had all of them been fished before? What species of fish would we find in them, and how big would they be? Many miles of steep hiking separated us from the answer to those questions.

Upon reaching Clear Lake an overpowering view greeted us. Nearly 3,000 feet of mountains poured into the lake on both sides. Clear Creek, a cottony-white thundering torrent, poured out of the lake in a tremendous rush. It was hard to distinguish where the sky and the surface of the lake separated themselves.

After a breakfast of oatmeal the next morning, we began the climb to an unnamed lake far up the drainage. The high-altitude air quickly began to take its toll on three flatlanders, and only through my patient coaxing (begging, pleading, lying, etc.), was the female part of our group convinced to finish the climb.

All the pain and suffering (a.k.a., “labor of love” to a true wilderness adventurer) were soon left behind upon peering over the berm, which cradled the alpine lake. Fish were dimpling the surface everywhere. Let the party begin!

Eddy Claypool shows off one of the golden trout caught on his family’s backcountry trip in the mountains of Wyoming.

It was now a battle to determine who would get a line wet first. All three first- casts were met with immediate action. Chaos and pandemonium ruled! In short order, golden trout were beached all around us. I tried to mix picture taking, video making, and fishing together at the same time. It was quite a thrill to watch my young daughter, with pole bent, squealing and grinning from ear-to-ear. On that day, at that time, there were three Okies having one “LARGE” time, in some verylarge country!

As things settled down, exploration of the shoreline revealed a lake outlet with a very nice, gravel-bottomed stream that meandered through a beautiful meadow before finally crashing of the mountain in search of places unknown. The stream was simply crawling with spawning trout, and the sight wastruly amazing.

With the onset of evening, the Claypool girls began the long, but downhill, hike back to camp. With a promise, ” I’ll catch up quickly” I tarried at the lake for a little longer to just look it all over, soak it all up, and yeah, make one more cast.

I sincerely hope that outings such as this, and the many more that she’s been on since, have instilled a very real appreciation in my daughter for one of our greatest God-given treasures — our environment.

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