Fly fishing and face masks on the Green River

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Fly fishing guide Cori-Alice Holladay prepares her drift boat for launch into the high-flowing Green River near the Flaming Gorge Dam on Friday June 2, 2020. | Jeff Parrott, Deseret News

‘I wear a mask because I can’t grow a beard,’ said one fly fishing guide.

DUTCH JOHN, Daggett County — Cori-Alice Holladay inspects her Clemson-orange drift boat from bow to stern. The morning sun is still climbing so her mirrored sunglasses are tucked above the bill of a ball cap. Her eyes, the only part of her face not covered by a face wrap, check every stowage compartment, fly box and boat seat. She follows a nearly spiritual routine to guide a successful — and safe — day of casting to big trout in northeast Utah.

Four fly rods secured in specially designed compartments; a mental check. Flotation vests for each angler and herself, check. A cache of #8 cicada flies she’s hand-tied for the Green River’s famous cicada hatch; check. Disinfectant, hand sanitizer and face masks; check.

As state and county safe-at-home guidelines relax in Utah, Holladay and her coworkers offer anglers a mental escape from the pandemic and a chance to catch big trout. But they’re also taking coronavirus precautions seriously.

On this Friday morning in June, Holladay preps for another day “behind the sticks,” rowing a pair of clients through postcard-perfect canyons as raptors soar overhead. She’ll scan for hungry brown and rainbow trout and dish out her advice for a good day of fishing: Keep your fly in the water.

Jeff Parrott, Deseret News
Guide Cori-Alice Holladay prepares for a day of fly-fishing on the Green River.Open water, closed doors

In March, Western Rivers Flyfisher Guides — the guide shop where Holladay works — shut down its fly-fishing charters for six weeks as Utah and the world reeled from the pandemic. Like other companies balancing employee and community health with economic disaster, the shop made the difficult decision to close its doors, hoping clients would return when the disaster passed.

Holladay says she lost 18 guide trips during that month and half.

“We don’t have a medical facility here. We don’t have a grocery store here,” she says of Dutch John. She is trained in CPR and first aid, but it’s a 45-minute helicopter ride to the nearest medical facility.

All her clients travel here from outside the county and about 60% come from outside of Utah, Holladay says. According to recent U.S. census data, more than a quarter of the population of Daggett County — where Dutch John is located — is more than 65 years old, thus more susceptible to deadly complications from the coronavirus.

Fly-fishing is already popular on the Green River, but traffic picked up during the pandemic after Wasatch County issued a public health order banning nonessential travel and visitors, shutting down the Middle and Lower Provo Rivers to out-of-county trout bums.

It could have been a lucrative spring, but Holladay doesn’t regret the decision to …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News

      

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