Somewhere in Wyoming

Somewhere in Wyoming

Editor's Note: If you're thinking about making destination fly fishing travel plans later this year, here's a trip to consider. 

Words by Dakota Richardson

Photos by Riversmith Ambassador Andy Braker

As I rolled down the steep access road towards a river launch, the tall Pines, wet with dew, and yellowing Aspens signaled that it was no longer summer. Gone were the crowds and their rental rafts and their fumbled gear piles across the lot. The rapids below the launch, once scattered with waves and whitewater now seem settled with blue pockets and gentle seams, the banks have dropped into shape, and the rock bars and troughs now forming perfect runs for feeding trout. This was mid-September, my favorite time of the year on one of my favorite rivers to hunt cutthroat with dry flies. 

My drift boat and trailer clamored across the gravel ruts as I pulled up to meet Andy and Karlie Braker, who had just moved to Colorado and were visiting the Jackson area.

I met Andy years ago through a mutual guide buddy and we had stayed in touch over the years. We loaded rods into my River Quiver 4-Banger, packed the cooler, and headed up the road, past wildlife tours and herds of bison.


“Two bugs to start, but both dries. Foam and a Mayfly, if they don’t want one, they should want the other,” I said. We finished rigging and dipped the boat into the cold and clear river — soon floating through Cottonwood galleries and towering Engelmann Spruce forests. It was only a matter of time before we heard some distant elk herds. 

The morning progressed slowly with scattered surface whacks from small trout here and there. The banks were not yet buzzing with grass hoppers though and the bright sun subdued a Drake hatch. 

We anchored on a small side channel and stepped out to fish on foot. It was just a shallow hole next to a log, but right as Karlie’s fly skirted around the timber and into the bubble line a quick splash of yellow upended the calm pool. It was a Cutthroat, just a few seasons old with typical fine spots all across the colorful sides. We kicked silt and gravel from our Chacos stepping back into the boat — it was time for a beer!

Karlie and Andy traded casts at eroded Hawthorn trees and runoff timber piles and glacial boulders and steep cutbanks as the winding river valley carried us closer to the Tetons. The young mountains grew in stature and the floodplain was now wide and braided. The shallower water throughout was more fertile — with glowing weed beds and colorful riffles. 

We caught fish, plenty of them, with aggressive strikes, sometimes cartwheels even across the surface — but we hadn’t seen that big mature fish that I was hoping for. But immediately as we crossed the channel from right bank to left, Karlie watched as a shape with a large yellow belly slowly porpoised on her foam fly. The classic slow composure from the fish quickly turned to a series of flops and tail kicks. After navigating the bow and the oars and the excitement of a real fish, Karlie pulled the fish boatside and into the net. High fives and cheers rang across the quiet river as Karlie carefully hoisted the fish over the water.

“That’s definitely a good one here,” I smiled.

After 8 miles of river we were nearing the end of the float. The cooler was lighter now, the casts now into the hundreds, and an afternoon sun dipping closer to the granite peaks — but we still needed to find Andy a good one. We anchored again and I grabbed my net with high hopes for the next shot. After casting all day from the back of the drift boat, Andy and I waded across a shallow rock bar towards a deep hole below a trickle that hid from the main river channel. We slowly approached, then conservative with casts, we worked our way up the pool. The fly drifted gently back towards us — NOTHING!

I could see swaying shadows below the surface though.

 “Just bomb one up to the top,” I said, hoping they just hadn’t seen the fly. Just as if a real ant trickled across the drop off, one of the shadows charged the fly and flushed a hole in the surface current. The remaining shadows scattered and darted as the biggest of them thrashed aggressively with no place to run. So much silt had stirred up during the fight that it made netting the large fish difficult. After several misses we finally scooped the old Cutthroat into the net, with the fly embedded between rows of teeth. He was a big fish as well, but seemed much older than Karlie’s fish. I could only imagine the number of eagles and ospreys and otters he had spent his entire life hiding from. 

Later at the ramp, we traded future plans and thoughts on the float. It’s always fun introducing friends and family to this place that I spend so much time in.


Dakota Richardson is a Professional Fly Fishing Guide with River Range Adventures. For more information or to fish with Dakota, you can visit or contact him at

More from the Editor: The Riversmith Ambassador Team is a critically important part of our DNA. Our Ambassadors are recognized leaders in the community, subject matter experts in many different aspects of fly fishing, and most importantly provide Riversmith pointed and honest feedback as we develop new products. Andy Braker is a Riversmith Ambassador and if you’d like to read his entire bio CLICK HERE. Look forward to hearing more from Andy and Eric Braker in the coming months as fishing season gets into full swing. 


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