Up the Firehole: Through the eyes of a Rookie Ranger

One thing nice about having a Rookie join the ranks of the Firehole Rangers this year was that we had us a submissive member along to do our bidding. Not only did he provide the plush mini van in which we traveled comfortably (and in shame) through Washington, Idaho and Montana, but once we reached our destination we had someone naive to check us in to the Ho Hum. Those of us who know from experience the risk associated with stepping foot inside the motel office always resist having to do so–a task administered only after drawing straws. But having a new guy along gave us veteran Rangers a much-deserved reprieve from the cat-fest. It seemed appropriately ironic that the Rookie, whose name may or may not be Morris, was ordered to stand in the face of the olfactoral assault, something he did bravely and without throwing up in his mouth. He also fetched us beers on demand, strung up our rods, bought our meals, and cleaned our gear at the end of each day. Well, 1 out of 4 ain’t bad.

Another benefit of having a Firehole first-timer along for the journey was the reminder of what it’s like to experience this amazing place for the first time. After several years of making the trip I find myself, while still in awe, more focused on the fishing than the bison, the thermal activity, the scenery. Those fixtures are always impressive, but after you’ve been there and done that a few times, it becomes somewhat commonplace. It shouldn’t be that way.

From behind the lens of his pink camera (to match his pink, v-neck Firehole Ranger Rookie t-shirt), Morris captured the magic of fishing this special place. Almost as if from a child’s innocent perspective, I give you the wonderment of the Yellowstone (thanks for the photos, Rookie).

Ho Hum Sweet Home, for a few days.

Day one brings a dusting of Montana powder.

The Goosemaster trudges past the crowds toward vacant water and gullible fish.

Late Spring in Yellowstone, Midway Geyser Basin.

Alas, the mighty Firehole. Let the lines become wet!

The weather would get worse before it got better.

The fishing could not have been any better: The Goosemaster and Marck doubled up.

Marck with the first of 273 fish for the day.

Blah, blah, blah. Whatever, Marck.

The weather broke just in time for lunch.

After which we enjoyed a pleasant afternoon of plentiful catching.

Everyone caught many fish, though some are by nature less accomplished.

Oh look, a hole in the ground filled with water. Wonder if it's hot?

Wait, Marck, this thing's going to erupt in just a second. Don't move.

Streamside attraction.


And then it would rain hard, and BWO's would hatch. Many fish eating real bugs, not ours.


That night, back at the Ho Hum...

Gooseman pontificates on one of many subjects before we head out for pizza and more beer.

Day two: There are many large animals in Yellowstone.

On this second day there was less snow, more cold. Biscuit Basin, YNP.

Catching was slower than the day before, depending on who you asked.

Jimmy didn't much complain.

The UA would complain, but still managed a fish.

Between naps, The Goosemaster got in on some action.

Marck only caught 167 fish on day two. Ha! Take THAT!

Lunch, under blue skies.

Thus concludes day two on the Firehole.


Thanks, Rookie Ranger, for the reminder of what it’s all about. See you next year, if I’m invited back.


  1. Bud ALCOCK

    Great pics…..definitely a place on my bucket list,



    • Kirk Werner

      Thanks for stopping by again, Bud. Steam rises, so definitely the Firehole deserves to be near the top of the bucket!

  2. Al

    Don’t mean to belabor this, cause there’s certainly nothing wrong with it, but you appear to be wearing chaps whilst bending over in the Fire Hole River in the photo captioned “The UA would complain, but still managed a fish.”

    Glad you had a good time.

    • Kirk Werner

      You are very astute in your observations, brother–the first to notice my Redington chaps. Fortunately I wasn’t going commando. That would be particular rough on the firehole.

  3. The River Damsel

    You guys have so much fun. I will be there in 4 days. And it will be a lovely…Oh, I better not say… might jinx myself! Why should we care about the cold…the fish don’t! Ha. Maybe next year I will go earlier and crash the river party one day… = )

    • Kirk Werner

      We do have us a decent time, Emily. The time of year has little bearing on the weather–it is my presence that guarantees lousy weather, so you have been warned.

  4. Eikoor

    Great read UA, but perhaps I am bias.

    I cannot begin to understand what must have been pulsating through the mind of the Rookie while breathing the pungent, yet somehow pleasant, Ho Hum air. Was it more inspirational to observe the timeless spectacle of early Yellowstone spring or the exquisite art cast upon him by those Senior Rangers with centuries of river insight? But if I were to speculate, I do believe you accurately encapsulated his awaking to the greatness and beauty of it all, and our individual pursuit of perfection.


    Sirrom Eikoor

    • Kirk Werner

      Relish your innocence, Rookie. In time you too will come to be a hardened, embittered old Ranger yourself, who goes there to count fish.

  5. Sanders

    “Comfortable Shame…The Firehole Rangers New Ride” …I think I got the name to the straight to DVD classic about your trip…or at the very least, the title to the slide show.

    Looks like a good time was had by all, even the rookie.


    • Kirk Werner

      Well played, Sanders: Comfortable Shame. I rather like that, a lot. Could be a great album title, too. Maybe something with a lot of banjo picking.

  6. Emanolious

    What the hell is that thing attached to your arse?

    • Kirk Werner

      That would be junk in my trunk, and thanks for looking at me arse.

  7. George

    Mr. Morris is no longer a rookie. When I last fished with him in the icy waters of the Snoqualamie River (??), he let me use his waders and he braved the icy waters with a pair of short pants. He is a real sport….and true sportsman. Great pics.

    • Kirk Werner

      He’s no longer a rookie, but he’s got another year to prove his worth before he is deemed a full-fledged Ranger. Next year he will be an Apprentice Ranger. I have every confidence that he will gain full rangership as he is, as you noted, a good sport. Thanks for the comment and for stopping by.

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