April 2021 - 43

A grizzly bear in Grand
Teton National Park
wrestles with a bull elk
carcass in the Snake River
as a bald eagle looks on.

I was distracted by a small clearing in the trees filled
with slow-moving water that glittered spectacularly in
the sunlight. The river left a section of grassy bank on
the opposite side where I was sure a large cutthroat
was waiting, eyes skyward and waiting for a fly to fall
through the streaming sunlight. The cast was perfect.
My foam bug hit the opposite bank and bounced
softly into the current while my line settled several feet
away. I watched the foam bug drift casually. Then, in
the space of a heartbeat, a large shadow streaked from
under the grassy bank and struck the fly ferociously. I
timed the set perfectly this time, lifting my rod as my
heart leapt inside my chest. I held the line taught for
a sliver of a moment. Then the fish jumped, spraying
glistening droplets of water into the air. The slash of
crimson beneath its jaw and its golden flank reflected
magnificently in the sun. It was big, but I remember
more notably that it was beautiful - exactly the
sort of fish one would expect to live in a sunlit pool
surrounded by tall pine trees rising spectacularly from
a flood of water.
In another heartbeat the fish was gone. It managed
to wrap my line around a tree downstream and use the
torsion to wriggle the hook from its mouth. I thought
it probably would not have been fair for me to land
such a beautiful fish in such a beautiful stretch of river
anyway when the haunting sound of an elk bugle again
penetrated the trees. It was much closer this time, and
I had crept only a few yards upstream when I saw him.
A magnificent bull elk stood in shadows among the
conifers and he held his head up and tasted the air.

A beaver nibbles on
twigs in Spread Creek
north of Jackson.

		

Wyoming Wildlife | 43



April 2021

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