The fish of the Wind Rivers don’t ask much. They don’t require precise imitations or championship casting. If you’ve got a fairly suggestive fly, tied with care, and your cast is not a complete embarrassment, a Wind River trout will not refuse you. If they are sipping mayfly emergers from the surface film and you open your flybox and the best you can do is an Elk Hair Caddis, tie it on. All reasonable offers will be considered.
I once spotted a Wind Rivers brook trout of about 11 inches perched on his underfins at the top of a pool where the water spilled over a tangle of logs. I covered him and he took a swipe at the fly as soon as it touched down. This happened almost too fast for me to see it. All I knew was he missed the fly, so I left it there and he came back. This time I clearly saw him rising, and I must have tensed or flinched because I inadvertently repositioned the fly and the fish missed a second time. By now the fly was almost to the tail of the pool and it had come under the influence of some drag that I could not mend out. There was no way the brookie would rise for me a third time because the fly was now practically at my feet, and in another two seconds it would drop out of the pool anyway. But the brookie did come back. He came straight at the fly and in so doing came straight at me. When he saw me he flicked around 180 degrees and I thought the jig was finally up, but it was not up. The brookie came a fourth time and plucked the fly from the tailout just before it slid from the pool. This is your basic Wind Rivers trout.
I don’t mean to say fishing for Wind Rivers trout is easy. You must, of course, go to them. This means shouldering a pack with supplies for five days or so and walking under that burden for a number of hours until there are no roads or wires or cellphone signals. The air is thinner and there may be snow or mosquitoes. Oftentimes both. You must filter your own water and sleep on the ground.
Inevitably, you will have forgotten something you thought you really needed, and at times you will feel like you are doing without.
Then you happen upon a trout that will come at your fly in spite of you. Then you come upon an entire stream of them.