“It began innocently…” How to stay married and enjoy Wind River Country
Veteran family-man and survivalist Joe Brandl from Dubois has taught outdoor skills for decades. In this fun #getoutside feature, Joe tells how he shared his love of the outdoors with his wife. #getoutside, a series focusing on our County 10 outdoor lifestyle, is brought to you by Wind River Outdoor Company in Lander.
There are many important rules to abide by when enjoying the outdoors with that special someone. Understanding these rules will make for a long and happy relationship. On a beautiful spring day in Wind River Country, I learned 2 of these essential rules…
- Never suggest or even attempt to canoe together for any length of time. never. ever.
- Never attempt to be your wife’s fly fishing instructor. ever. never.
I, of course, broke both of these cardinal rules believing that my years of being a Scoutmaster and teaching dozens of young boys the art of the outdoor living would be enough experience to pass on my extensive wilderness experiences to my wife.
As you’ve guessed by now, I was WRONG and learned the hard way. Perhaps, learning from my woeful mistakes, you’ll be able to skip right to enjoying the back country with the love of your life!
It began innocently with a pleasant day canoeing down the Wind River. She was in the bow and I was in the captain’s position in the stern. As we navigated down the river, I repeatedly, politely suggested several times, that she paddle on the right or paddle left. My barrage of commands was, however, not received well by the bow-woman. It worked with teenaged Scouts, why not now? Something was amiss.
I quickly changed tactics… and remained quiet for the rest of the trip. Meanwhile paddling to the opposite side that she chose at her will. Obviously, my scouting experience was not going to work with my wife. Who knew!? This was how I learned the first of the essential rules above.
I love spring days in Wyoming, the snow is only found on the highest peaks, the valleys are dressed in green and the rivers are abundant with spawning rainbows. Sharing these moments with the woman you love and adore can become lifelong memories or mental scars. But we had moved beyond canoeing catastrophe, so I believed we could move on to something much simpler…
I decided that my lovely wife needed to learn the fine art of fly fishing so I purchased for her all the essential gear, waders, fly vest, wading boots, a box of hand-tied flies, Orvis shirt, sunglasses and an assortment of gadgets to fill her vest pockets. Nothing could go wrong!
Fly-fishing is the art of catching fish with a rod, a line and a hairy looking hook. It’s an ancient and honorable sport; its roots lie deep in the past and an intangible tradition governs its conduct. It seems to be true that applying the art in terms of the tradition yields the maximum satisfaction and is most soothing to the spirit. In other words, I wanted to impart the beauty and artistry of…forget all of that if you consider teaching your wife how to fly fish!
Don’t get me wrong, anyone can learn to fish, but maybe a husband isn’t the right teacher.
I began to teach her, with a fine Sage rod, the art of throwing a line with two nymphs attached to some #6 leader. Within the time it took me to walk downstream twenty yards I turned back and noticed she had a huge tangle of knots dangling from the rod……..which caused me to curse silently. Now, allow me to point out that women have supersonic hearing, better than most dogs that can pick up the high-pitched whistle humans can’t hear. A man cannot even think curse words without the wife hearing them! Things were going so well…
Now, it happened that in preparing for this lovely day, I had also purchased a Tenkara rod. This is really nothing more than an expensive fiberglass collapsible fishing pole. It resembles the bamboo cane pole many of us used to catch bullheads with as kids. It’s is a traditional Japanese fly fishing rod, which has no reel. The line is attached to the end of the stick, which is roughly about 12 foot long.
The advantage of this is that the fisherman can simply just reach out and dip the line and fly into the water. The only action is lifting the rod tip up and down. I had become acquainted with the 2nd of the rules I shared at the beginning of my story. This Tenkara rod technique has completely improved my wife’s ability to catch fish, her enjoyment to wade streams…
…and our relationship in sharing the great Wyoming outdoors.