Pancakes and Painkillers

Wyoming—A Photo Essay

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They say winter is the season for tying flies.

The weather’s too harsh. The fish are dour. There’s ice-plugged guides. And so on and so forth. But winter is also time for fishing. Why? Because there’s a big river in the heart of desolate country. It’s yours. All yours. The kokanee are mostly spawned out. They lay in the weeds at your feet. They grow fuzz in their gills, decompose, and return flesh to the ecosystem that birthed them. The browns are more reclusive than usual. And the big rainbows you’ve come to expect of the system and season have all morphed into 14-inchers, committed to eating swung flies half their size and body mass. It rains; then snows. There’s a cozy canvas wall tent waiting at the end of the dirt road, with a makeshift cribbage board, an empty bottle of Bailey’s, and pancakes and painkillers for breakfast. They say winter is the season for tying flies. Maybe they’re on to something. Maybe.

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