Photos: Family Ties and Huge Rainbow Trout

Written by: Jenny Mayrell-Woodruff, Fly Fish Beaver’s Bend.

Shortly after committing her father’s ashes to the river, Dawn landed this stunner of a rainbow.
Photo by Jenny Mayrell-Woodruff

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.

Using her sister’s 5-weight Recon rod, Deb had similar luck 15 months later.
Photo by Jenny Mayrell-Woodruff

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.

A former Trout Bum of the Week, Jenny Mayrell-Woodruff guides on the Lower Mountain Fork River in Oklahoma. Check out

One thought on “Photos: Family Ties and Huge Rainbow Trout”

  1. Jenny, it is in these moments of reflection as a guide and fishing mentor that the world becomes a perfect place.
    All things seem to merge into a purpose that before we could never see. Clarity to the purpose of ones life is a gift from God. I believe He has placed his hand on you for this very reason. To be a fisher of men and to bring joy and comfort into the lives you touch.
    I am proud to know you.
    With blessings,

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