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Good fishing destinations in the West are exceptionally abundant. In fact, one of the most difficult decisions facing the myriads who travel to the region each year is where to fish and which guide or outfitter to employ. Accordingly, the astute angler looks at potential trips in the region from a wider perspective, one which involves matters such as competence and congeniality of guides, the variety of fishing available, the outfitter’s ability to adjust to factors such as adverse weather (does he have access to a number of fisheries?), and the like.

I’ve spent several weeks in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho each summer for the past eight years, and to borrow words from a regular section in this publication, I’ve seen "the good, the bad, and the ugly." With such considerations in mind, and based on some time spent with this outfitter in July sampling some of his fishing venues, Tim Wade of North Fork Anglers (*) in Cody gets high marks on a number of scores.

For starters, Cody sits squarely in the middle of an area which offers a lot to the fly fisherman. Among the outings Wade provides are day trips (both floating and wading in late summer and early fall) on the North and South Forks of the Shoshone River; the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River; the Greybull and Wood Rivers; and the renowned waters of Yellowstone National Park including the Firehole, Gallatin, Madison, Lamar, Gibbon, and Yellowstone Rivers and Slough Creek. He even provides ac cess to some rainbow filled lakes if rains leave the streams muddy. Wade can also arrange extended backcountry horseback trips for special opportunities such as the annual run of spawning cutthroats out of Yellowstone Lake into the headwaters of the river and its major tributaries.

To be sure, scores of other outfitters can offer variety like this. So what makes North Fork Anglers so special? The distinguishing features of Wade’s operation go beyond the chance to cast on fabled streams. First there is Wade himself. He is a highly knowledgeable angler with a special understanding of the region’s entomology (he teaches classes in the subject, along with fly tying, at a nearby college during the off season). On one of the days we fished together, he readily solved the vexing problem of what flies the big Yellowstone River cutts were taking (I had already changed mine a dozen times to no avail). The result was a grand day of one big trout after another when no one else was scoring.

Another plus, in my book, is the fact that the guides who work for Wade are not the typical youthful hot shots so common in much of the West. Instead, they are mostly retired fellows who also happen to be devoted anglers, and one senses they work as much for love of the spon as for the money. Most have been with Wade for years, and they don’t punch a time clock which says the day’s fishing is over just as a fine evening hatch comes off. Then too, a part of the operation is a fully equipped fly shop open year round (and Wade books trips any time of the year fishing is available, not just in the summer months), which means you can get your nonresident license and equipment without a hassle. I am also impressed by Wade’s commitment to conservation, epitomized by the key role he has played in founding a local Trout Unlimited chapter, and his passionate concern about a planned mining operation which could seriously threaten the Clark’s Fork, a water that carries Wild and Scenic River designation.

In other words, Wade is not in business just to make a living he also cares about the resource. A full day’s guided trip, including transportation from Cody and lunch, costs $250, or you can take a half day trip for $150. He requires a 50 percent deposit in advance and charges a 20 percent cancellation fee. For more information, contact Wade at North Fork Anglers.

This is an angling newsletter, but the sidelights of fishing in the Cody area should not be overlooked. The Buffalo Bill Historical Center has the finest collection of American firearms in the world, not to mention an outstanding gallery of Western art, a wing devoted to the Plains Indians and another wing focusing on the famous figure for whom the Museum is named. Any sportsman will find the Museum a real treat, as will his family. Each night through the summer the Cody Rodeo takes place, and if you have sufficient energy you can catch the action after a full day’s fishing.

The scenic natural wonders of Yellowstone Park are a reasonable day’s drive away, and there are a whole host of day long sightseeing trips by automobile which can be planned out of Cody. In short, there is a real possibility here of combining fine fishing and a family vacation. For detailed information on what the area offers, contact Park County Travel Council (*).

Now for the negatives. There is ample lodging in the Cody area, but advance reservations are strongly suggested in the peak summer season. Transportation can be a bit of a problem too, since only Continental Airlines currently serves Cody. A pos sible alternative is flying into Billings, a two hours drive to the north, and renting a car. Another vexing matter is the exorbitant price of rental cars in Cody. These problems notwithstanding, if you are looking for a Western fishing trip with special character, try North Fork Anglers and the Cody area. Jim Casada.

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