Firehole Rangers without the Firehole

If you haven’t paid the UA a visit since last November, I can’t say that you missed much since that was the last time I posted anything. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, or something like that.

Anyway, this is normally the time of year that I’d be gearing up for the annual pilgrimage of the Firehole Rangers to our namesake river in Yellowstone National Park. It’s been that way for years, with very little change to the itinerary. Creatures of habit we are, and we like it that way.

Well, that all changes this year–we’re not going. Not all of us, anyway (I think Morris is going, not sure about Nash). But Marck, Goose, Jimmy and me aren’t.

And that can be blamed on last year’s trip (which I didn’t write about).

The Firehole Rangers 2018

The Firehole Rangers 2018

On our way to the Firehole last year, Morris, Marck, Jimmy and me stopped in and fished the Beaverhead with the guys from 4 Rivers Fishing Company in Twin Bridges. The next day was a down day with nothing to do but make our way toward West Yellowstone. We uncharacteristically took our time, stopping to wander around Virginia City (a place we had driven through but never stopped to see due to frantic driving schedules). It’s worth a stop to see how folks in this once-thriving gold town lived.

These boots were made for walking? More like Cruel Shoes.

These boots were made for walking? More like Cruel Shoes.

We then continued on to West Yellowstone and the Ho Hum, where Nash and Goose joined us after having made the Big Drive in one day. The next day we fished the Firehole, and while fishing was better than it had been the past few years, it was nothing to write home about (so I didn’t). A beauty day it was, though. A day fit for sun bathing (sorry for the following photo).

The Big Sexy of the Firehole.

The Big Sexy of the Firehole.

Shed hunting

Shed hunting along the banks of the Firehole.

The next day we fished my favorite river, the Madison. Then we drove once again to Twin Bridges and the following day fished the Big Hole with the guys from 4 Rivers Fishing Company.


The river was huge with runoff and we were all split up fishing different sections of the river, each boat trying to scratch out an existence. Jimmy and I were in my buddy Joe Willauer’s craft and after getting eaten alive by mosquitos at the Notch Bottom launch, we proceeded to get into some good fishing. I don’t remember the details but fishing was very solid despite really high, brown water. Fish were caught, most of them browns and many of them good sized fish.

A rare accomplishment

A rare accomplishment

Fish the cottonwoods

Fish the cottonwoods

At one point during the float Joe started droning on and on about his trip to Christmas Island from which he had just returned. He’d been a couple of times before and had had a good enough time that he continued to go back. He kept talking about Bonefish, Giant Trevally, buck-toothed fish that eat crabs, yadda, yadda, yadda. It was kinda hard to wrap our heads around that type of fishing while we drifted through flooded cottonwoods, nymphing for big browns in high water. But Joe just wouldn’t shut up about this Christmas Island place.

Joe catches and nets his own fish

Joe catches and nets his own fish while yammering on and on about Kiritimati

As it turns out, ‘Christmas Island’ shouldn’t really be called Christmas Island, because it’s not the real Christmas Island (you know, the place in the Indian Ocean with the Great Crab Migration). The “Christmas Island” where Joe goes is actually Kiritimati, pronounced ‘Kirisimas’ by the locals and then bastardized by foreign anglers who refer to it as ‘Christmas Island’. But I digress. By the end of the Big Hole float, Joe had nearly talked us into joining him next (this) year.

Long story short, in the months that followed we signed up to join Joe and some others for a trip to Kiritimati. It was a long winter (though not as long as for those of the Night’s Watch) during which the trip seemed an abstract thing. But before long the trip loomed near, and now it is upon us.  On Memorial Day we’ll fly to Honolulu, spend the night, and the next day board a Fiji Airways flight, 3 hours south to Christmas Island Kiritimati.  For the next 6 days we will chase Bonefish and hope to get a shot at a Giant Trevally and maybe some of those buck-toothed fish that eat crabs.  It’s going to be very interesting, and a far cry from the Ho Hum and the Firehole.

After I return, I promise to share the trip here on the blog—Maybe not right away—but eventually. After all, I wouldn’t want to post content on a regular basis.



  1. Patrick Konoske

    While it’s been said that there are true fly fisher-people and then there are those who don’t chase trouts. Enjoy!

    • Patrick Konoske

      Damn, can’t edit: “Well, it’s been said…”

      • Kirk Werner

        I could edit that for you, but I won’t.

    • Kirk Werner

      Part of me feels like I’m cheating. The other part of me is fine with it 😉

  2. Aileen Lane

    I am sure you will be missed by the cat-lady of the HoHum.

    • Kirk Werner

      And we will miss her, too. She is a hi-light of of our entire year!

  3. Marck

    Waiting in the bar at Waikiki beach. Better hurry.

  4. Amber Mullen

    Nice brown! Can’t wait to hear about your Generic Holiday Island trip!

    • Kirk Werner

      Ha! Generic Holiday Island. I love that. Wish I’d thought of it myself, damnit!

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