Guide: Eliza Scott, Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming
Outfitter: Fly Shop of the Bighorns, Sheridan, Wyoming
The odometer read 4204 mi. as we pulled into Sheridan Wyoming, almost dark, a cold light rain peppered my windshield. Sheridan’s main drag might have 10 cross streets, it’s clean and the store fronts are filled with merchandise. At the corner of Main Street and Grinnell Plaza, Fly Shop of the Bighorns occupies a prominent location across the street from Kings Saddlery internationally known for its ropes. You may have seen one of their “King Ropes” hats on a hipster in Hoback Junction, or a cowboy in Laramie.
My fishing companion Jeff Wilder was on the WAZE, operating his phone as navigator leading us in from Main Street to the stream side mini ranch my wife’s friend Tracy Boyle and her husband Bobby have set up for retirement. Bobby has a few cutting horses to help neighbors with branding when needed. It’s a retirement regimen that could support a blog, or perhaps a pod cast focused on all things mountain life, building fences, shoeing horses, defining boundary lines and maintaining a bourbon collection, to name a few. We had a lovely dinner with their neighbors. The burgers were free of antibiotics, locally ground and just gamey enough to identify their Wyoming free range heritage. Better than any burger I’ve had on a restaurant plate, or basket for that matter.
We woke before first light and on Bobby’s suggestion made our way back to main street and into the Silver Spur Cafe for breakfast. The little café is a small-town bonanza; ranchers filled the backroom at 7am with waitresses shuttling breakfast burritos and flapjacks to the crowd. We sat at the counter near the front door, observing the kitchen action, the Silver Spurs’ owner runs a mean griddle, about 6 feet long. Shredded potatoes piled high in the back right corner, her spatula constantly moving from Calamity Jane (egg battered cinnamon rolls, French toast style) to eggs over easy then a quick lift of potatoes placed on a platter crisp and hot. Cinnamon rolls at the Silver Spur might be the most impressive presentation I’ve seen in a diner in my 33-year carrier, true plate fillers that stand a good 5 inches off the center of an 8-inch round saucer topped with 3 tablespoons of soft, sweet, creamery butter. That roll and a coffee was all I needed, but of course I had a smothered breakfast burrito too, for good measure.
We were in and out of the Silver Spur in half an hour, on time to meet up with Bighorn guide Eliza Scott in Buffalo, driving 40 minutes east on a road that runs parallel with the Bighorn Mountain range. Eliza’s a full-service flyfishing guide who has resources to float certain rivers but for this trip we were going to wade an un-named river another hour east on private land that we were asked to maintain its anonymity. The fly shop has special permission to fish it and they only fish any given stretch of the winding stream occasionally. Wild fish that rarely encounter anglers need to be protected.
Eliza gave Jeff a full day of professional fly guide instruction, put him on several brown trout and helped him get comfortable casting a 4 weight in waist deep moving water. I had a blast casting to the edges and floating nymphs under small dry flies – Green cadis and below a big chubbie to support it.