the .raw story : fremont canyon
Nestled in between mesmerizing rolling green hills, vast landscapes with an endless horizon & harsh bitter winds, is a canyon with a trout stream that catches the scent of fisherman from all around.. with some traveling more a few thousands of miles. The Wild West & vast prairie just got a whole lot more interesting.
After our Utah adventures had wrapped up and we needed to make our way back to Nebraska to finish our Fly through Nebraska fly fishing tour! (click here to read that!) The quickest way back to Nebraska was to actually go up through Wyoming and then land in the panhandle of NE, since thats where the majority of the streams we needed to hit were located! So, naturally being the rock climbers that we are we looked up climbing along I-80 for our possible pit stops & camp sites. First stop, wasn’t the best – still an amazing drive in and it made for a super cool camp site, but climbing was just okay! Still super glad we decided to stop but probably wouldn’t go back, but the second stop we made.. that was gold. Let me preface with saying... we drove all the way here to climb.. and we didn't even climb. What did we do you ask... we fished.
Driving into Fremont Canyon we passed the little town of Alcova, Wyoming. We passed the giant reservoir with red rock cliffs splashed in every now and then, kept driving, pasture after pasture of rolling green hills that made it feel like we were in Ireland, kept driving, until we started to see more formations grow and grow on either side of the road and then we hit the bridge. Pretty soon we are on a bridge that crosses over this 130ft canyon with a perfect climbing walls on either side and a flourishing trout street down the middle. This was literally John's paradise.
We drove past the bridge and followed the road to gauge the size of this beautiful discovery we were experiencing and ended up pulling off where we saw another camper rental. We figured since someone parked there, there was probably a trail down. We packed up the climbing stuff, brought the fishing pole, brought lunch and found a trail. As we’re walking down, down, down skirting the edge of the cliffs, we see that this gorge is huge and empty!!!! Not a soul in site! We made it to the bottom, massive climbable walls on either side and just the perfect river running right through it. We found some bolted routes and set our stuff down there.
John being John, what’s the first thing he does in solitude with a river. Get naked and jump in of course. I don't expect anything less. And I was actually glad to get a little bath in too! We hadn’t showered in a few days! As we were swimming, lounging, enjoying the sun & water, a storm looked like it was about to roll over. Water is the worst thing for climbers and the gear, so we decided fishing would be best to start... plus he was really anxious to get that fly rod wet.. regardless that he would be fishing everyday for the next two weeks while on our Nebraska tour. John sets up his pole and throws in a line with no bites for about 45 minutes.
Then out of the corner of my eye, I spot a fisherman walking up from down river! Must have been the camper we saw up top! And then we met Steven. Stevan was from Switzerland and makes the journey out to Fremont Canyon every spring and fall. Now if this guys coming all the way from Switzerland to go trout fishing… this must be something to talk about. Stevan exchanged some beta on what type of fly he was using and the luck he’d been having. John offered him the hole he’d just been trying and sure enough within 3-5 minutes. Boom. Got one. 5 minutes later, another. 3 more, another. 5 fish caught in under 20 minutes and nothing smaller than 18 inches. GOLD.
Steven was just glowing! And was especially ecstatic that he had someone photographing and witnessing this feat! John was just as hyped to watch him catch all these fish too! Steven then tired out the hole, thanked us for being there and made his way and kept walking up the river.
After watching that live fishing TV show we had just witnessed, we easily decided that we needed to stay here a couple more days. By this time it was close to 5 pm and we either needed to climb before it got dark like we came here to do or go into town and get the flies that Steven used and try climbing tomorrow. After all those fish.. easy decision.
We drove past the bridge, little Ireland and the red rock walls back to the town of Alcova which consist of a fly shop and a gas station with a fly shop. No joke. We pull up to the gas station one in Carmella greeted with a cherry “what the fuck is up man” by a hippy fisher man standing outside. He was wearing a tie die buff, oversized T-shirt, his hair wild from being wind blown & his shorts were cut off jean shorts. He proceeded to compliment Carmella on her “bad assery” , took John inside & showed him the flies he needed. We don’t even think this guy worked there, he was just using the washing machine apparently but enjoyed being the parking lot greeter and helping fisherman get what they needed..
After the fly shop we headed back to the canyon and snagged a camp stop. Now this is BLM land which means camping is free and roughing it! We found a perfect spot right at the edge of the canyon and set up shop. Which "set up shop" means nothing, we just scoot and turn the van until its level and call it good.. and theres our shop.
After we got settled, time to heat up the cast iron and get dinner going. 5 minutes into cooking & guess who just so happened to pop out of the canyon right at our campsite! Our good friend Steven. He checked out our rig, we talked some more fish stories, said our goodnights as we were sure we’d see him tomorrow!
Sun rises, another day in paradise. This time we just brought our fishing gear down, we planned on fishing in the morning, come up for lunch and climb in the afternoon, but that plan didn't happen. Fishing was good, great actually, too good. Too good to climb. I don’t remember the exact number of fish John caught that day in that stretch of the river but enough for him to spend the whole day wanting to keep throwing his line in.