Written by: Jenny Mayrell-Woodruff, Fly Fish Beaver’s Bend.
During the spring of 2015, I received a request for a special trip from a repeat customer. Dawn’s father had passed away a few months before, and she wanted to combine a fly-fishing trip on Oklahoma’s Mountain Fork River with a quest to find a scenic and peaceful place to sprinkle his ashes.
A beautiful April morning found us on the river surrounded by the rolling Kiamichi Mountains and towering cypress and pine trees that mark this portion of Oklahoma. I had a spot in mind for the day’s somber task, and a gravel bar just below a small waterfall proved to be exactly what Dawn had in mind for a final spot for her dad’s ashes.
After the small container was empty and a few minutes of reflection had passed, we moved upstream and shifted our focus from the past to the present, as Dawn began to cast a streamer in a deep run. A couple dozen casts and one fly change later, the then-new Orvis Recon 5-weight was jolted by a hard strike. All questions about what had taken the fly were soon answered when a wide-bodied rainbow trout jumped clear of the water. After several strong downstream runs and a couple of more jumps Dawn finally led this big Bow into the net.
Almost exactly 15 months later, on a mid-July morning, Dawn’s sister, Deb, and I were about a half mile downstream from where her father’s ashes had become a part of the river and where her sister had landed that big trout. Deb was high-stick nymphing with size 22 JR Emerger through a nice drop-off with with her sister’s 5-weight Recon. The strike indicator paused mid-drift, and I said “Set!” As the line moved out if the narrow run and into the main river, it quickly became apparent that it was a large trout.
After a strong fight, some coaching on my part, and a great job of keeping the rod tip up and playing the fish on Deb’s part, I netted a beautiful 23-inch rainbow. This was Deb’s very first fly-fishing trip, too. I’m pretty sure she is hooked!
It wasn’t until that evening that I began to realize the incredible coincidence, good fortune, or maybe something else that led to the two sisters landing two exceptionally big trout a little more than a year apart, using the same fly rod—and on the same river they had chosen to be the final resting place for their dad.