Scrapbook One Hundred Forty Nine…



A Memory Runs Through My Family

Lightning struck me today in the form of an email from someone I never met and do not know. But the history of our respective families is so entwined as to be almost umbilical.

Here is her email to me. My response to her is at the bottom.


Mr. Fenn
Can’t tell you how much your treasure hunt has rekindled memories of my best childhood vacation!

When I was 10, back in 1958, my family went on a fishing pack trip out of Jackson Hole, over the divide, and into the Lamar River Basin. These were the most special 10 days I can recall in all my youth. Though my mom, dad, brother and sister were there for the fishing, I have to admit I was there for the horses. I can still remember all 14 of them with names and color (how is that even possible). Our guide, Bob Adams (how do I remember that???), would get up before everyone else and catch trout for breakfast. There is nothing better to wake up to than trout for breakfast over the campfire! It was 10 glorious day in the wilderness with lots of fishing and wildlife watching!

Looking for treasure clues online brought up all kinds of Yellowstone photos and reminded how I always said I would return. Somehow I never did. Don’t know why. But now I am determined to take my trip down memory lane next summer before it is too far for me to walk! Thank you SO much for that extra push in the right direction!

In doing my research, I was looking for connections that might tell me why you used the phrase “if you’ve been wise” and found this lovely story about the Eagle family and their “right of passage” introducing the next generation to fishing the Firehole River. Subsequently I decided that there was no connection between “wise” and “Hoot Owl Hole” where the Eagle family started the younger kids fishing but it was a great story anyway. It led me to wonder if you were friends with the family as they did have an outfitting store in West Yellowstone and were themselves fishing guides in Yellowstone. Just curious. A River Runs Through My Family.

My real question is: if I were to happen to find the treasure and if it happened to be in Yellowstone Park, would you consider claiming it yourself and offering a finders fee? The last thing I would want would be to find it and hand it over to the government! Just askin’……

Again, thanks SO much for setting in motion an amazing adventure for thousands of individuals and families who will now have all their own stories to tell about their great treasure hunt!

Lou Ellen Williams


Dear Lou Ellen,

I knew all of that old bunch in West Yellowstone, starting in about 1938, from old Sam, the patriarch to Wally, Joe, Bette, Rose, and the rest. Wally and I fished together many times on the Firehole, Gibbon, and Madison Rivers. I knew your grandmother Frankie when she was barely old enough to wear a top and even today she remains a cherished friend. I love the link you included in your email, and think I need another hankie.

If you find the treasure in YNP, tell me where it is and I’ll go get it for you so you won’t be thrown down the hole at Old Faithful.

Forrest Fenn

Arkansas HillBilly Trout Tactics…

SUBMITTED january 2015


I grew up in rural Flippin,  Arkansas on the tail waters of the White River below Bull Shoals Dam & the go to fly there was a number 6 hook loaded with corn or a red worm.

No kidding, by the time the 70s rolled around (I was a kid) most fly fishing in that area was gone & I never knew anyone that fly fished regularly or even spoke of fly fishing without the words “back in the day” or something similar attached.  I would see fly rods and reels on the walls of boat docks or in the corners/closets of peoples houses covered in dust, but no one fished with them. Fly fishing gear had been relegated to wall decor or Brown Recluse habitat. The White River served two distinct purposes then, feeding locals a steady diet of trout & generating local revenue through guided fishing trips. In both of those cases, using corn, worms, or some artificials such as spoons or rooster tails were so effective that little else was used.

The goal, particularly in my case as I loved to eat trout and trout were free, was putting fish in the freezer. The mechanics of reaching that goal were of a secondary concern. The concept of catching less fish in a longer amount of time at a greater expense, albeit with a more back to nature warm fuzzy way via fly fishing, was foreign to those of us in that area back then. We were a more direct and simple crowd, and looked upon fly fishing as a rarely seen high-brow activity only found in old ‘Field and Stream’ issues and Hemingway novels. Besides, no one knew where to buy any fly fishing tackle.  Zebco 33’s and 303’s dominated the local tackle scene & both were available at the WalMart in nearby Mtn. Home.  HillBillys are known for our practicality. It’s often been said that we just make do with what we have, and that’s a very true statement, but it really should be amended. Starting in the late 60’s, early 70’s, we began to make do with whatever we had or whatever WalMart had on sale. Zebcos were always on sale, so that’s what we used. Looking back it’s a wise thing WalMart didn’t carry dynamite next to the dipnets.

The opinion towards fly fishing in that area of course took a dramatic turn in the early 90s with the movie release of  ‘A River Runs Through it’ and soon the White River was inundated with fly fisherman (as was pretty much any river, creek, or ditch in America I surmise). Not only did tourists come in to fly fish, but locals began to fly fish as well & while corn and worms are still by far the primary bait used there, fly fisherman are now very common on the White River & there are several selections of fly rods and reels in the local WalMart. Guided fly fishing trips are now easily available as well as the more common float trips & you are just as likely to see fly rods swishing about from the front of a john boat as you are a spinning reel flinging corn. A multitude of flys can be bought in any local sporting goods store, and many locals are tying their own woolys and nymphs trying to match the hatch as the seasons change.

Me? I’m still a bit more on the practical side. I’m a certified corn and worm aficionado. I have three goto rigs for trout fishing. 1.) red worm on a hook. 2) two pieces of corn on a hook & 3)  the top secret deadly ever so complicated… two pieces of corn *and* a red worm on a hook.  In my world, simplicity equals dinner.

Not that I haven’t given fly fishing a chance, Last year my wife and I went to Taos for a week & I purchased some decent (or so I think) fly rods and gear and we set out to fish the trout waters of NM. I caught trees, shrubs, and even myself cursing out loud alone in the woods several times.  I became very adept at leaving both wet and dry flys in the surrounding tree line, and seemed to mutter like Yosemite Sam each time I had to tie on a replacement fly.  Serenity it was not, and trout were not fooled, not one bit. I could see them, tucked away back in their little hole leering at me, smirking, laughing as I did my best Brad Pitt imitation. They would investigate, slip out of their shadows to inspect, and tease my fly, but they wouldn’t bite. They knew I was a faker, they could see it in my corn and worm loving eyes. Disgusted, I contemplated my next move and in true HillBilly fashion, I looked for guidance from the All Mighty, Sam Walton. A quick trip to Walmart & I was re-equipped with a $12.99 spinning reel, a can of corn, & a box of worms. Five casts later, I had three trout! They were small, but they looked tasty. They were no doubt embarrassed to be taken by my bold use of a lowly red worm, and they were also lucky that I had plans to eat at Sabroso that night or their fate might have been a little dimmer no matter their diminutive size. All were released to taunt & torment the next fly fisherman to come along.

Truth be told, I would like to be a bit more successful at fly fishing as it does intrigue me, but I suppose until I get some proper tutelage, there will always be corn, worms, & WalMart. 🙂


——- Related links —

Scrapbook One….


Thought you might enjoy some photos of Forrest and his family and environs that you may not have seen before.

I figured we’d add one of these pages to the blog every once in awhile. Just for grins…

These photos show one of Forrest’s grand daughters with a very nice rainbow trout. Forrest taught her to tie flies and as payment, made the rule that she can never fish for trout with a fly that she has not made herself.

She laughed and the deal was struck.363a

A fly fisher spends her day shin deep in the cool warmth of a sun splashed stream among the chatter of chipmunks and clobber of woodpeckers. She shares the stream with darting dragonflies and dancing dippers ambivalent to her presence.  A fisher must use all her senses when on the water. Smell the scent of sweet wet grass bending along the water’s edge. Feel the sun warm her determined shoulders. Listen for the faint patter of insect wings in the clear air just above the ripples. Taste the lightly beaded sweat on her upper lip and dance with the swaying dark shadows she watches and admires.