“Passing it On” 

Skip James

I’m pretty sure that those of us who are blessed with children have attempted to share the joys of our sport with our children. If you’re like me, the results are definitely a mixed bag. My eldest son loved the ‘time with dad’ that we spent together on trout streams, and even though he was given plenty of tackle and opportunities to pursue trout on his own, it never ‘took.’ My younger son had the same attitude, with the same result, until one day, in his early forties, he sent me an email. 

Now Matthew loved hiking, snowboarding, climbing mountains, and had chosen to live in Denver, pursuing his career as a videographer, where he was close to all those things. It seemed he had hiked into a secluded mountain lake, and while setting up his camp noticed that there were fish rising near the shore. When he returned home, he sent me the propitious email that asked: “Could I catch those rising fish if I had the right equipment?” Needless to say, a complete pack-rod outfit was sent to him by me the next day, and a few days later he sent back photos of several nice Rainbow trout. Since then, he has been fly fishing almost everywhere he travels. 

Here comes the best part! I had fished in the West quite a bit, and Matthew and I arranged to spend a week or two together every Fall, fishing in Yellowstone Park, the Paradise Valley spring creeks, the mountain lakes, and living very cheaply at Chico Hot Springs resort just across the river from Emigrant, MT. Matt has an old Toyota Forerunner that he has put at least two new engines into. I would fly to Bozeman, he would meet me there, load up my stuff in the truck, and after a brief stop at The River’s Edge Fly Shop for licenses and banter, we would drive over the mountain to the Livingston side, and then south on 89 to Emigrant, the only ‘blinker light’ on the road, turn left at the general store/gas station/laundromat/liquor emporium, cross the Yellowstone river and proceed to East River Rd., turning left to Pray, then turning right at the dumpsters. The road to Chico Hot Springs Resort, although straight as an arrow, was occasionally closed to car traffic, while it was being used as a runway for small planes to land. 

We used to stay in a double room on the second floor of the Main Lodge for $60/night, with a bathroom down the hall. It was handy to the pools as well. I just checked and the price per night is now $85. The food at Chico is outstanding. We particularly liked the breakfast buffet. In certain years we forsook the Yellowstone area and Chico for the Bighorn, where we stayed at Cottonwood Camp. Here are photos of Matthew and his proud dad on the lawn at Chico, and of Matt watching his strike indicator intently as he pursues the Browns and Rainbows of Armstrong’s Spring Creek. 

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