Fifteen local kids experienced fly fishing on their local Henry's Fork at the end of August thanks to eight incredible guides who donated a day to the kids as part of Youth on the Fly.
The anglers are recent fifth grade graduates from Ashton Elementary. They spent half of the school year raising trout of their own through HFF's the Trout in the Classroom program under the instruction of teacher Matt Lyon and HFF staff.
The goal of Youth on the Fly seems simple: get local kids to catch a Henry's Fork trout. But, we aren’t fishing stocked trout ponds with this program, and these fish certainly aren’t fools. There’s a reason thousands of anglers worldwide visit the Henry’s Fork and spend an estimated 30 million dollars a year in the county to experience catching its wild trout. The river is beautiful, underdeveloped, and its fisheries are just unmatched. With prolific hatches, wild trout and wide river sections fed by pristine spring creeks, it’s not uncommon for a skilled angler to walk away skunked after a day on the water.
Yet, we want our kids to understand why their backyard river is cited on Forbes top-ten list of trout fishing waters. We want them to value clean water that sustains wild trout, to become responsible stewards with the land that economically supports them through agriculture and recreation, and to understand that “in this land of many uses” they really can have it all if they take care of it. First and foremost—we want them to catch a wild trout.
To make this happen, we need the anglers who know the Fork the best—our local guides. Thanks to three local outfitters—Three River’s Ranch, Henry’s Fork Anglers and TroutHunter—15 kids ended the day with 119 fish (mostly wild trout) caught on the fly, on the Warm River to Ashton section of the Henry’s Fork. One participant, KJ Lee and his guide Logan Martindale (who grew up in Ashton himself), landed a 22-inch brown trout. Visit our Facebook page to see all the photos from the day.
In between catches, kids relished being in a drift boat, floating by ducks, pelicans, and muskrats while marveling at the basalt-formed canyon walls, the clarity of the water, and the soaring ospreys. The students also enjoyed hearing stories from their guides about their work. At lunch break, kids performed their trout life cycle song for the guides, played in the water, and assessed the river’s health by looking at what type of aquatic bugs were under the rocks.
At the end of the float, kids returned to their awaiting parents where they excitedly told them about their fishing stories, which quickly transpired into plans to form a fishing club and learning how to tie flies. Guides presented kids with small collections of flies, and encouraged them to stay with the sport.
After a long day on the water, participant Colton Orme was all smiles as his guide, Rance Dye, said to him “let’s do it again tomorrow!” The future stewardship of the Henry’s Fork is ensured because of these dedicated and generous guides.
The Henry’s Fork Foundation appreciates the following local guides who provided this opportunity for our local kids: Rance Dye, Kevin Darby, and Carlos Chavez from TroutHunter; Andy Jenkins, Alex Kohn, and Tyler Treece from Henry’s Fork Anglers; and Logan Martindale and BJ Gerhart from Three Rivers Ranch.
Thanks to Ashton Elementary, with special recognition to fifth grade teacher Matt Lyon who participated in the float, and Henry’s Fork Naturalists Bill and Sue Ruppel and Steve Whistler for taking photos and shuttling vehicles. Additional sponsorship was provided thanks to funds and items received from the Targhee Women’s Club, the Voigt Foundation, Patagonia, and Redington.
Contributed by Anne Marie Emery, Conservation Education Biologist.