My first fishing adventure with Kevin was about 3 years ago in October 2008. We happened to both be at a mission reunion for Fall LDS General Conference. I was shocked to see him there since I knew he was living in San Clemente, CA. It was so great catching up with him. As were about to part ways, he said, “this may sound crazy, but do you want to come fishing with me and Andrew tomorrow?” I was about to say that I needed to work, when thankfully my wife Crystal told me to go and convinced me I could figure what to do about that. When I told him I would go he said, “Ok, meet us in Evanston, Wyoming at 3AM.” Only Kevin would think that was a good idea. I have fished for a long time and know that most fish like an hour or two after sunrise to wake up, but I agreed just the same.
I showed up in Evanston at particular gas station at the appointed hour. I walked into the gas station to find Kevin in one of his famous conversations with a complete stranger where they sounded like old friends as he calls them by name (which is gleaned from their name tag or simply asking). When he is in that mode you can’t quite tell if he is hassling them or just really enjoying connecting with another person. You soon learn it is mostly the latter, although I still think there is an element of hassle in there. These conversations can happen anywhere at anytime.
As we moved on to the parking lot with our gas station sandwiches and sodas, Kevin began to spin yarns about the “mythical confluence” of two streams outside of Cokeville, Wyoming. These waters were sure to hold a bounty of native cutthroat trout. I found that Kevin had also brought along his son Josh and that we were to meet his nephew Zach at Sage Creek Junction. Once we were all together we headed to Cokeville. Stopped into the truck stop for some more Kevin magic with the locals and then headed back on the longest dirt road I have ever driven. In the excitement I forgot to fill my gas tank and after about 20 miles on this road we began to descend on the valley containing the mythical confluence. Somehow the steep downhill grade caused what remaining gas I had to rush away from any in take line and my car stalled. Furthermore, I realized that I had not one, but two flat tires. I ended up gently coasting down the hill to a parking spot, where I assessed the damage. Thankfully I was able to repair the flat tires, but was wondering what on earth I would do about the gas. We were in the middle of nowhere with no one around for miles, except a lone hunter in a pickup truck who warned us about a black bear he had seen recently where we were fishing and also had no extra gas. We threw caution to the wind and decided we’d better start fishing.
The section of the river we fished was full of a series of beaver dams which contained mostly small trout. We had fun catching them and made sure that Josh landed a few before we moved on to see if we could find an more intriguing water to fish. We wandered around in a thicket of willows for an hour or so and discovered that we were above the mythical confluence as we found another stream to the south of where we started. With two bursts of the famous Hegewald family call, we all gathered together to go back to the cars and move on. I thought I would hop in my car to see if it would start and by some miracle it did, so we all moved downstream a little ways. We came on a nice long riffle stretch which we determined was now below the mythical confluence as we all began to call it. One thing you learn about Kevin after spending any amount of time with him is that he has a most interesting way with the English language and uses amazing words in ways I don’t think they were meant, but it totally works for him. That is one of the things I loved most about being around Kevin. He would use some word he pulled out of the air and just go with it and it would totally crack me up.
We began to fish this beautiful run, but thankfully I got a little jump on everyone and within about 10 casts hooked and landed the fish of the day. An absolute bruiser of a trout. It was a beautiful 16 inch native cutthroat that ate the streamer I was fishing. This really enthused the entire party again and we spent the next 2-3 hours fishing this long run with great success, albiet by catching a horde of mountain whitefish. We had an absolute blast. We all caught fish. I was able to help Josh and Zach get into several fish using nymphs which I am not sure they had really done before. Thanks to Mr. Whitey we walked away from the stream satisfied, mostly – except for Kevin.
He thought that we’d better give the lower portion of the river, closer to Cokeville a good once over before nightfall and the drive home. Kevin climbed in my car and we headed back along the dirt road back to town. I was a complete nervous wreck that I would run out of gas. Somehow we made it back to paved road with air in tires and running on fumes. Of course instead of heading back to the gas station to fill up first, Kevin insisted we explore every side road that might take us back to the river regardless of how likely we were to get filled with buckshot for trespassing. We stopped a few times to fish and I sweated bullets every time I went to start the car. We finally and miraculously made it back to gasoline and microwave pizzas at the truck stop. YUM!
What I learned from Kevin is that you can’t let a little thing like the possibility of running out of gas in the middle of nowhere – where you would most likely have to spend the night in the freezing cold – ruin your fun. That IS the fun! Push it to the edge and enjoy the bounces if you tumble over the side. This is something I am not very good at, but he helped me see that it was possible and always full of rewards!