Each year the Fly Fishing Film Tour screens exceptional short films from a wide variety of fly fishing pursuits. Some films explore remote locations, others chase huge fish, but at their core each offers a glimpse into the love fly anglers have for their sport. Personally, one of the most memorable was from the 2012 film tour: ‘Doc of the Drakes’. It depicted the relationship between client and guide convincing viewers those titles truly weren’t applicable between Dr. Robert Franklin and Pete Wood. The number of years they’ve fished isn’t decades long, though the number of days they’ve been together over those years and the bond they’ve forged would suggest otherwise. The relationship between Doc and Pete originated through a shared love for a beautiful place and the fish that swim there. But it’s much more than that now; it’s familial. They work hard to catch trout and Doc whacks some big ones, but to see them interact you understand that while fish are the focal point of fishing, they’re peripheral to why these two love it so.
If you haven’t seen the film, take a few minutes to watch it here.
Last weekend I had the privilege of spending some time with Pete and Doc and his family up in Picabo, Idaho. My good friend Cam, who’d met Doc on the South Fork years prior, and I headed northwest from Victor through Craters of the Moon to meet up with Doc’s grandson-in-law Justin, who’d kindly extended us an invitation to cast to the large brown trout of Silver Creek.
Heading into town, we’d seen Pete’s truck, easily recognizable as the one with the belly boat lashed to its top, parked by the first bridge over Silver Creek. Not wanting to waste daylight and unseasonably warm weather, Cam and I headed to another fishing access to see what we could see. About half an hour later, Pete and Justin drove up and the information, laughs, and beer started flowing.
Pete suggested we head back downstream to try a stretch he figured he could get us on fish. Pictured below is the result of Cam’s second cast.
With the sun setting, we left the water to tour the Nature Conservancy (a preserve created through the generosity of the Purdy family, descendants of the valley’s original settlers) so Pete could give us the lay of the land. He and Doc were scheduled to fish the next day together, but Pete spent hours with us scouting Silver Creek and sharing valuable intel.
I wouldn’t say Doc and I now know each other well; a weekend’s just not enough time for that. I do know, however, that his palate holds hot dogs in high regard, particularly the elk bratwurst Cam grilled up Monday night. We did share several conversations about fly fishing and the grin that appears when telling his stories is unmistakably rooted in deep satisfaction. He’s grateful for the experiences he’s had and the places he’s been. I learned more about him by watching him fish; his cast is efficient and even the strongest gusts can’t thwart his dogged determination to place the fly precisely where Pete tells him. If he misses a fish, Doc isn’t deterred in the least; he’s calm in the knowledge that he and Pete will simply hunt another one. And the fish Doc lands, be they big or small, are greeted with a genuine appreciation for what he and Pete have accomplished and their mutual enjoyment of the best of company.
The following photos are from the only day we fished with Doc; he was the first one up, ready to get after it.
The Silver Creek valley runs downhill from the west toward the east, virtually aligning it with the course of the sun this time of year. The light, early and late, is stunning. After casting a short while on Friday, I didn’t pick up a rod again; just too much at which to point a camera. The photos that follow tell the story of the rest of the weekend, one of being surrounded by good people who only want to share what they have so that others may find enjoyment. Sincere thanks to Justin and Doc’s family; they were incredibly hospitable. And a special nod to Doc’s assistant, Bill, for the biscuits and cinnamon rolls he brought by each morning before the sun got up. They were damn tasty.
The fish brought us to this place, but it’s not the fish I’ll remember.
click on thumbnail to launch gallery