Wyoming

Most people associate Wyoming fishing with fly fishing. However, craving bigger fish than are generally caught on a fly rod, I searched for spin fishing trips in Wyoming and was fortunate to find an amazing guide on a body of water that, as luck would have it (for my quest), straddles two states: Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Wyoming and Utah.

Wyoming was one of my favorite state trips. I fished with Ashley Bonser of Addictive Fishing on the Wyoming side of Flaming Gorge Reservoir, south of Green River, Wyoming. The temperature was in the 30’s with freezing rain when we started fishing, which, for a native Virginian, was quite the unpleasant surprise given that it was late May.

I fished for over 3.5 hours before getting my first bite, but what a first bite it was. My first Wyoming fish was a 49-pound lake trout, which is only one pound shy of the Wyoming state record. It measured 46 inches long and 32 inches around. Both the light tackle and the size of the fish made the fight seem to last forever, which was both exhilarating and nerve-racking at the same time. I wish I had been able to record Ashley’s reaction to seeing the fish because it was priceless; I have never seen someone that excited for someone else’s achievement. Ashley noticed that there were no hook marks in the trout’s mouth, as sometimes happens with lake trout that are caught and released, meaning that I may have been the first person ever to catch this fish. We released him back into Flaming Gorge to fight another day, so by now he is bigger than the state record.

The rest of the trip was a blur consisting of us talking about how amazing the 49-pounder was. I did catch another lake trout, which, at 36 inches long and 23 pounds, would be quite the accomplishment in and of itself. Indeed, it is my fourth-biggest lake trout of all time, and qualifies as a trophy fish under Wyoming's program. But that 49-pounder spoiled me for the day; actually, I still have not gotten over it. It truly was a catch of a lifetime.

Even had it not been for my amazing fish, Wyoming would be one of my favorite states. The scenery is unrivaled, the land is uncrowded, and the wildlife is abundant. In fact, it is said that pronghorn (an antelope-like animal) outnumber people in Wyoming.

Update August 2014: Shortly after completing my 49th state (North Carolina), I was fortunate enough to find myself back out West with just enough free time to see Yellowstone and, of course, fish with Ashley Bonser again. I knew that my first Wyoming lake trout would be next to impossible to beat, and it turned out the lake trout bite was slow anyway, so we fished for kokanee salmon. Most kokanee I had caught previously in various states were one pound or smaller, but I knew that if anyone were to put me on a big kokanee, it would be Ashley. Not surprisingly, he exceeded even the lofty expectations I had for him. In four hours, I caught 23 kokanee, with the biggest being 23 inches and five pounds. I caught 14 kokanee over 20 inches, the Wyoming trophy minimum. Of those, 10 were over 3.5 pounds, and, of those, five were over four pounds. The smallest kokanee I caught was 1.5 pounds, which would have been among my personal best before this trip. Wyoming was one of the first of my return trips, and I can only hope that my subsequent return trips are half as good.