Getting Paid to Fly Fish At Just 14 Years Old

Getting Paid to Fly Fish At Just 14 Years Old

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I had an opportunity to travel to La Barge, Wyoming with some friends to work on a cattle ranch during haying season one summer. I was all of 14 years old. We mostly drove tractors to move the mown hay into hay stacks and it was hot and dusty work. The mosquitos were fierce. One night I counted almost a hundred bites on the back of my hands.

Fortunately the Green River was only about 100 yards from the bunkhouse, so I could squeeze in a little fly fishing after work. The boss soon learned that I could catch fish and he loved trout. He began letting me miss a day or two of work just to go fly fishing.

When I returned the following summer, the boss told me that he didn’t want me driving a tractor that year. Instead he gave me the use of a small motorcycle to go catch fish in nearby streams. There were a lot of streams to choose from within a 20 mile drive. I could fish La Barge Creek, South Piney, Middle Piney and North Piney. If I wanted to cheat a little on the mileage, I could drive north toward Pinedale and fly fish on the New Fork River, just like I used to do with my dad. It was like heaven, fishing all day for the ranch boss. I probably brought back three or four hundred trout that summer.

In later years the ranch boss told me and my father that he’d trade us beef for fish anytime. So Dad and I would go fish a variety of Wyoming streams and bring our catches to him on our way back to Utah. As a result of the trade, we’d bring back enough steaks and roasts to feed us in style for a long time. But that was long ago – before we signed on to “catch-and-release” fly fishing.
Jan Peterson