Lassoed fish – an ‘Art of the Hunt’ tale

I produced a series of videos for the upcoming Art of the Hunt display that opens at the Wyoming State Museum in Cheyenne on July 18th.

The exhibit, spearheaded by the Wyoming Arts Council, the University of Wyoming and the Wyoming State Museum, features folkloric stories told through the unique art forms of hunting and fishing, including leather working, bow making, fly tying and taxidermy.

You don’t have to be a rugged outdoors man or woman to have stories.

I’m a city kid who grew up in the suburbs of Cheyenne. One Christmas Santa brought these short fishing rods and rudimentary reels. We could hardly wait until spring to get our lines wet.

My Uncle Rich gave me this fly box for Christmas one year. He was an avid fisherman around Wyoming.

My Uncle Rich gave me this fly box for Christmas one year. He was an avid fisherman around Wyoming.

As a family activity in the 1960s my parents would take my sister and I to Country Club Lake. On the way we stopped by the tackle store and picked up a box of worms for bait. My dad showed us how to bait the hooks and explained the purpose of bobbers.

My mom’s job was to untangle the fish line snags. I remember hooking my first fish, it was a six-inch perch. We caught several small ones that day.

I wasn’t allowed to clean the fish, because I wasn’t yet able to use sharp knives. That evening, my mom breaded the fish and we had them for dinner that night.

When I was a bit older, I don’t remember the exact birthday, but my grandfather gave me one of his manual spinning reels – the kind with a bail.

This was a big step up from the push bottom job I had been using. He also explained to me about using artificial lures. He said it was more challenging because it became a battle of wits catching a fish with lures.

He gave me a box of various flat fish and spoons. I didn’t use the flat fish since I learned they were mostly for fish that didn’t live in Southeast Wyoming, but always have kept those hand-me-downs in my tackle box.

When I was living in Lander, one spring, my fishing pal Perry and I went out up to the Big Wind River just outside of Thermopolis. The water was running high and muddy. We wore hip waders. Perry had a few strikes, I was using a muddler minnow thinking that the brown trout would hit, but became a bit discouraged. Perry suggested that I try something that no fish would like. I opened my fly box and there was the green flatfish.

I clipped it on the end of the leader and cast, then reeled in the line. Tugged and reeled, tugged and reeled. Hopelessly snagged on some plants.  I waded out to untangle the line. Much to my surprise, in addition to the wad of greenery, was a 10 inch trout entangled in the weeds and being strangled by my fish line.

“You lassoed a fish!” Perry hollered.

It wasn’t good, the line was stuck under the fish’s gills and cut him up. I ended up taking the fish out of mercy, but I didn’t think I had taken him fairly.

I still have my grandfather’s flat fish, but I haven’t had it out since. I have an antelope hunting story I’ll jot down when the Art of the Hunt exhibit gets into full swing. Join the facebook page and share your hunting and fishing stories and photos: