How infatuated are TroutHunter guides with the Henry’s Fork? Well, if it’s any indication, last August 1st I became no less than the sixth member of the TH family to be married in a streamside ceremony. Rich and Millie Paini, Marty and Kate Reed, Brad and Ann Marie Miller, and Jake and Jen Chutz were also married in various locales on the banks of the Henry’s Fork.
There are so many variables that go into an outdoor wedding that a couple cannot possibly prepare for all of them. So you plan for what you can, and then you hope for everything else to fall into place. Sometimes the things for which you cannot possibly plan make the moment, like a beautiful sunny day, and sometimes it is the uninvited wedding crasher who helps to make the occasion even more memorable. Like golden stoneflies, for example…
If traditional weddings are mostly reserved for churches, perhaps it is fitting that we all chose to be wed on the Henry’s Fork. Without wanting to speak for anyone but myself, I would say it is a safe bet that each of us feels an emotional and spiritual connection to this River and to the entire Greater Yellowstone area. And being fly fishing guides, none of us have ‘traditional’ jobs. Would I go so far as to say fly fishing is our religion?? Probably not, but you get the idea.
I have heard legendary fly tier and fisherman, the late Andre Puyans, describe his passion for the Fork by calling the Henry’s Fork his "church,” I’ve seen Rise and read TroutHunter, in each of which Rene Harrop describes his own spiritual connection to the Henry’s Fork, referring to the River’s running water as blood pumping through the heart.
As Johnny Cash sang, "I followed you, Big River, when you called,” and so did I. I first fished the Henry’s Fork in 1994 at age 18, and I was instantly struck by the overwhelming feeling that this river has an ‘it’ factor that other rivers I’ve fished simply do not. It is difficult fishing. It is rewarding fishing. Since 1994, come hell or high water, I fished the Fork annually, until finally answering the River’s call and moving to Island Park in 2007. I’ve been guiding for TroutHunter and spending at least 100 days on the water each year since. Even still, the River speaks to me, soothes me, challenges me, frustrates me, and satisfies me.
For me, each time I wade into the Henry’s Fork, I get a feeling similar to that which I recently got when I went ‘back east’ and stepped inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. The goose-bumps came instantly as sensory overload kicked in and all at once I was hit by the beauty, history, and majesty of where I was. I cannot recall a time while stealthily approaching a rising rainbow on Harriman State Park that those same goose-bumps didn’t make an appearance.
The Henry’s Fork is truly a special place that touches the fly fisher’s soul. Its aesthetic beauty rivals even the most ornate wedding chapel. It was this beauty which first led my wife to agree to be married on the River. She was struck by the lava rock formations, the dense pine forest, the wildflowers, the many birds—ospreys, golden and bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, kingfishers, herons, cranes, the wildlife—moose, elk, deer, otters, beavers, and of course, the fish—those gorgeous football-shaped Box Canyon Rainbows—the first fish my wife ever caught on a fly rod.