I talk with a lot of fishing outfitters. Some have armadas of drift boats and armies of guides. Some are one-person operations. Some get to run the glamour rivers – the Mighty Mo near Craig, MT or the Middle Fork of the Salmon. Others will put you on fish in places I guarantee you never heard of – little blue line streams that may or may not even have names on the map. They fish for salmon and steelhead and rainbows and browns and “salter” brookies and carp. They come from South Carolina and northern Maine, the Alaska Peninsula and the Great Lakes. But you know what they all do? They care about fish. There’s a blinding flash of the obvious for you – people who fish for a living care about fish and fishing. And they’re strong TU members – our TU Endorsed Businesses.
So every so often, we’re going to give some props to these folks. Like Heath and Sarah Woltman, for example. They are the real deal. He’s cowboy, she’s Australian and they run Bear Basin Adventures, near Dubois, WY. Ever been there? I thought not. It’s just north of Lander, on east side of the Wind River Range. And they know that range like you know your back yard, because it is literally their back yard.
The Wind Rivers are wild, and perhaps this is why the Woltmans and I love them so. This is hard country – not big rivers with big lodges and pillow top mattresses. This is country the way God made it – the backbone of the continent. It’s horseback country, where you saddle up in the morning with a cook tent breakfast of real food and cowboy coffee before you hit the trail. It smells like pine needles and wood smoke and saddle leather and horses. And it feels like no place else on earth. It feels like an adventure just to be alive here – because it is.
And the fishing…oh my gosh, the fishing…Yellowstone cutthroats, rainbows, brook trout, even grayling. You can fish flat water, little blue line streams, glacial rivers the color of skim milk…all day and you will almost certainly never see another angler. You will, however, see bighorn sheep, moose, elk, mule deer and maybe even a grizzly bear or a wolf. You may see a tie-hack cabin that sheltered the hardy lumberjacks of the 1800s. You may see a Sheepeater drive trap built by these Native Americans in the 1600s. You may see petroglyphs so old we don’t even know who made them. It’s big country, and you feel both humble and fortunate to be here with the Heath and Sarah.
They’re top hands in the backcountry, these folks. They’ll put you on a horse who will become your friend. They’ll feed you like you’ve never been fed before. And they’ll share with you the most magical country on earth – the Wind River backcountry. Like I said, they are the real deal.