I bet scads of anglers have walked on a bridge or on a high trail in the mountains, looked at the water far below, and wondered, Has anyone ever fished that? I often follow that with: There have to be some big lunkers down there, and It would be so cool to find out. One summer day, I was standing on the edge of a cliff looking down at such a place: the North Platte River in Wyoming’s Fremont Canyon.
I knew the fishing upstream to be excellent, but I wanted to find out if it was even better down where no one could reach it. My friend, Doug Heggart, and I had had a blast fishing that morning. We’d double-hooked large trout with our tenkara rods and enjoyed an unusually windless day. Then, knowing of my other main passion, rock-climbing, Doug took me up the canyon. I peered down the sheer walls, my gaze going back and forth between potential climbing lines and the pools in the water below. There have to be some big lunkers down there, right?
A year later, I recruited another friend, Steve Conrad, to return to Fremont Canyon and help me answer that question. Like me, Steve is a fly-fishing climber. Normally, my fly gear is as simple as it gets: a telescopic tenkara rod, line and fly. I leave the reel and other stuff behind in favor of this Japanese method of fly-fishing that I discovered and introduced to the US in 2009. But in order to fish Fremont Canyon, we also needed climbing ropes, and a decent amount of hardware, harnesses, climbing shoes… perhaps because my other activities are so gear-intensive, I keep my fly-fishing simple.