Crescent H Ranch

Crescent H Ranch

The Snake River and Jackson Hole at their finest

  • By: Buzz Bryson
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, can be a mixture of Hollywood, Washington D.C. and the New West. A visitor could run into Harrison Ford, Dick Cheney (at his undisclosed location), or one of the "local" billionaires (the joke being that the billionaires are running out the millionaires). And then there is the tourist riffraff, including anglers, clogging up streets that rightfully belong to those with the money to buy a piece of paradise. The locals? Well, actually there still are some, and all those I've met were nice folks.Jackson Hole does tend to make strong impressions on those who visit. But even folks who don't like the celebrity and the development need only to take a deep breath, look beyond all that, and see the Grand Tetons still standing, the Snake River still flowing and realize that there is an amazing array of opportunities to enjoy. And yes, to avoid, depending upon one's tastes. It's a great place to visit, whatever your motivations. But I was there to fish and, fortunately enough, to stay at the Crescent H Ranch, which is located 20 minutes from town, right on the edge of the Bridger-Teton Wilderness Area, and close to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. The ranch traces its roots back to the 1920's, but it wears its age well; owner Allen Jones and general manager Reynolds Pomeroy see to that. The 2,400 square-foot main lodge retains a classic look, complete with antique furniture, massive stone fireplaces at either end and elkhorn chandeliers overhead. Wrap-around porches, complete with large wooden rockers and a big swing, allow guests to kick back. The food and accomodations are first class, all the way. If you don't recognize the name, Reynolds Pomeroy is the former co-owner of Westbank Anglers, and he knows the local waters intimately. Reynolds certainly showed us a sampling of both the area's fishing and his own organizational skills; the trip went off with nary a hitch. The nearby Snake River is a fantastic fishery, but unsettled weather at the time of our visit reduced the catching from great to good; however, the fishing remained excellent. When we first reached the Snake, my fishing partner, Penn Newhard, went with nymphs and an indicator, a logical choice on a day with no apparent insect or feeding activity. I chose to pound the banks with streamers, figuring that if nothing else, it would keep me warm in the cool air. Besides, I love banging those big flies tight to the bank, then ripping them out and hoping each cast will lure that big trout hanging in the undercut. Throughout the day, we switched back and forth, using streamers, nymphs and dries, and catching fish--nice, healthy native cutthroats--on them all. As good as the Snake can be however, there's also the Green, the South Fork, backcountry trips in the Jackson Hole area, and the Yellowstone Park waters for Crescent H guests to sample. But the biggest mistake one could make here is failing to fish the private spring creeks that the ranch offers. In fact, there are seven miles of superb private streams to fish, and the fishing can be challenging. These spring creeks are best fished with thoughtful, well-placed presentations--no run-and-gun driftboat-type fishing. Instead of quickly measuring shots to undercut banks and pockets with a streamer or nymph, the concern on the creeks is stealth: quietly approaching a sighted fish, figuring out how to present the fly and avoid drag, and then dropping that fly precisely where it will reach the trout. I caught plenty of fish, and was sufficiently humbled by some selective feeders to wonder where cutthroats get the reputation for being pushovers. The Crescent H guides we fished with not only were personable (a minimal requirement, to my thinking), but they were extremely competent, suggesting patterns, techniques and locations that clearly demonstrated their in-depth knowledge of Ranch waters. I remember one particular fish that my guide pointed out to me. This fish was regularly rising just in front of a stick hanging in a bankside debris pile--right where the current hit the angled bank, pushed back on itself, and made a 90 degree turn before heading on downstream. At first I thought I would have to get out of the stream, walk above the fish, ease into the water and make a careful downstream approach. But the guide, obviously acquainted with the fish and its lie, told me this wouldn't work because the approach would put the fish down. My only choice was to drop the fly directly into the feeding lane from an angle, with a narrow target zone about 12 inches above the fish, and with enough slack to allow the fly to reach the fish without drag. Oh, and by the way, don't snag the fly on the high vegetation behind us… I became completely and totally obsessed with that trout. Of course, I never did catch it, and my failure left me vowing to come back. And you know, that's pretty much the way you want to end any fishing trip. For more information contact Crescent H Ranch; 307-732-0784, crescenthranch.com