In the high country, May signifies the true arrival of spring. With Mother’s Day weekend as the annual target date for moving back to our cabin in Last Chance, I am scrambling to wrap up loose ends here in St. Anthony where we spend half of each year.
Getting back to the Mountain represents a distinct change for Bonnie and me in terms of the pace of life that comes with the busy fishing season. Fortunately, there is a short grace period from the time of our arrival to enjoy the final few weeks of quiet before Island Park fills with seasonal residents returning for the summer and a nearly constant flow of short term visitors.
From Memorial Day on the community of Last Chance becomes the hub of activity for fly fishers from around the world that have only one thing on their mind.
On most days I will see and talk to more people than would be encountered in any given week during the off season, and it is always about the Henry’s Fork.
Perhaps it is because of a limited social involvement with a rural town where sensitivity to natural values does not dominate the resident mentality that I find myself looking forward to a reconnection with people who share my feelings on what is truly important in life.
This is not to imply that I do not enjoy long standing relationships with certain residents of southern Fremont County. But most of these relationships are based upon similarities of age and subjects that are not related to my outdoor life style. We disagree frequently, but they are good folks.
Many of the people I enjoy most spend a very limited time on the Henry’s Fork and come from vastly different cultural backgrounds. While it is fly fishing that brings us together, it is the bond formed by a mutual respect for what lies deeper than the simple act of fooling a trout with an artificial fly.
Philosophical compatibility combined with intense loyalty to the river allows these special visitors to be considered part of the Henry’s Fork angling community although they reside elsewhere.
With only a week remaining before the move, the river runs high from melting snow and a reservoir that holds little capacity to capture spring runoff in the high country. But the trout feed along the river’s edge on strong hatches of caddis and the early showing of March Brown mayflies. Already, the guide boats are working the lower river where conditions appear to be setting up perfectly for the Salmon Fly hatch.
The anticipation of a new season only intensifies as I contemplate all that lies directly ahead.
However, I will arrive back in Island Park with a heavy heart. Like all who knew him, I will miss Kenny Strandberg who passed away April 5, 2016.
Though I never saw Kenny with a fly rod in his hand, his role in the operation of the old A Bar made him a familiar face to every fly fisherman who passed through the doors of that legendary establishment.
I believe Kenny was a friend to everyone he met and his contributions to our community will forever be remembered. His perpetual smile and jovial nature revealed a kind man who loved the people and the place he called home with equal fervor. Rest in peace old friend.