2 lifelong friends, aged and generously salt-and-peppered
2 large boxes of hoppers, humpies, and assorted terrestrials
1 flask of Kentucky’s finest
Reduce the river over a slow Indian summer heat and then cool with the first breaths of high country autumn frost until the surrounding aspen dazzle the eye.
Add the fishermen and sprinkle liberally with the terrestrial assortment until the mixture begins a slow boil of rising trout. Whisk lightly with 6wt utensils and carefully strain with a fine 5X monofilament mesh, removing the fisherman and a precious few trout after a long, satisfying day.
Clean and dress the fish - a simple field gutting is sufficient - and place them on ice. Marinate the fishermen with the contents of the flask to soften their grizzled flesh and set both fish and fishermen aside to chill for a couple hours.
1qt Peanut Oil
4 foil wrapped, unshucked ears of corn
A couple dozen “Remember-the-Time?” stories
Once the fishermen are properly sautéed, batter the trout lightly in a plastic bag and set aside. Prepare an open fire and stoke it to somewhere between “Damn, that’s hot!” and “Isn't there a fire extinguisher back in the truck?” Drop the corn into the fire to cook themselves. Try to remember that they’re there.
Pour the oil into a 18” cast iron skillet, preferably one that has been handed down by your grandmother and has prepared fish in these parts for decades. Heat the oil and fry the simply dressed fish to a golden autumn brown.
Garnish generously with the shared memories or simply serve fish and corn in the comfortable, easy silence possible between lifelong friends. Save the fire’s coal to reheat the fisherman in the morning and, if there’s anything left in the flask, finish it.
1 breathtaking high-plains starfield
3 more days on the river
Savor these final ingredients. They are the outdoorsman’s dessert.
Variations of this recipe are endless, but as satisfying as the original when shared with good friends.
Rerun Note: This piece originated in my first fly fishing trip west - visiting a good friend who has a cabin on the Arkansas near Buena Vista, CO. I was a raw rookie then, insisting on fishing my seven foot 4wt on water much too big for such a little stick. It was what I was familiar with. My casting was haphazard; my presentations, awful. Little has changed in the intervening years.
But it was my first trip of a lifetime and I will remember it forever. Thanks Don.