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Wednesday, January 29, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Secret society reports back on mind-bending fishing trip

After being duped by an angler's immitaton fly, a native westslope cutthroat trout is released back into the clear waters of what Rich Landers calls "Cutthroat Creek." (Rich Landers / The Spokesman-Review)
After being duped by an angler's immitaton fly, a native westslope cutthroat trout is released back into the clear waters of what Rich Landers calls "Cutthroat Creek." (Rich Landers / The Spokesman-Review)

The Royal Wulff and Renegade Benevolent Society gathered for a daring service project on Cutthroat Creek 10 days ago.

This week, downstream anglers clearly have been reaping the benefits as fishing reports range from “pretty darn good” to success rates rivaling the miracle of the Biblical loaves and fishes.

This radical departure from a June hopelessly snagged in the Ice Age is no accident.

Consternation Committee chairman Virgil Emery reports that RW&RBS members schooled in combating climate change deployed into the upper reaches and waded to prime runs without wearing waders.

Indeed, they selflessly bared their legs and donated countless BTUs of body heat to a stream still unseasonably high with snowmelt. The sacrifice wasn’t as torturous as it might have been if the stinging nettles had been mature, but the term heroic seems fitting.

The project was hatched by the society’s Montana Chapter, where coolant-circulating tank heaters had to be installed in vehicles to go ice fishing this season – and that was on Memorial Day weekend.

The late-June Cutthroat Creek “thermal enhancement project” was a whopping success, boosting water temperatures a few clicks to 59 degrees this week. That’s optimum for cutthroat trout, according to Montana State University research.

“Cutthroat Creek water temps are finally at trout-friendly temperatures just as the Fourth of July crowds have subsided,” Emery said.

“Royal Wulff and Renegade hatches are prolific.”

The only hitch: Some changes will be needed in the program for the society’s midsummer glee club concert.

“We seem to have lost the baritone section and gained several sopranos,” Emery advised.

(Note to prospective members: No bass of any variety is allowed in the RW&RBS.)

Of course, the fishing at Cutthroat Creek was memorable even at temperatures that send gonads, as they say, to where the sun don’t shine.

“There was no sign of testicles on any of the many fish we caught, not even the bull trout,” reported David Moershel.

RW&RBS rules prohibit pinpointing the exact location of Cutthroat Creek, but most fly fishers could find it – even in high water – if they would only try.

From its headwaters in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Canada, Cutthroat Creek flows through a state of mind.

Head for the clear water and isolated stretches accessible only by muscle. Continue just far enough to escape the job, the phone and obligations that seem to grow exponentially just before departure on a fishing trip.

Look for elk tracks, bear scat or a water ouzel.

Then start casting.

All RW&RBS members in good standing pack along essential survival items, since Cutthroat Creek is beyond roads.

It’s also well out of cell phone coverage even if you do happen to think ahead for a change and put your mobile phone in a Zip Loc bag before bending over to release the first fish of the day.

The walking and wading involved requires careful scrutiny of every item in the pack for its utility and weight.

Some choices are easy: I discard all beadhead nymphs to make room for the afternoon beer.

Some choices are hard: amber or pale ale? Flip a coin.

Nymphs are unnecessary at Cutthroat Creek.

Yet grown men can come here and talk freely about Humpies, Beaver Pelts, Bastards, Air Heads, Blond Mormon Girls, Purple Belly Dancers, Girdle Bugs, Stimulators, Bitch Creeks and wet wading without getting arrested or threatened with divorce.

For the record, the RW&RBS was briefly rendered speechless during the June project when rustling in the brush downstream at midafternoon turned out to be something other than a moose.

“It’s two other fishermen!” Moershel eventually mumbled.

The anglers – older gentlemen who seemed to have the qualifications for society membership – were equally surprised.

“We don’t usually see anyone up here,” one said, noting that the two of them had been hoofing it to that stream stretch for 40 years.

“They’ve got six years of seniority on us,” Moershel whispered.

“Are you catching any fish?” asked one of the men, indicating he may not have known he’d reached Cutthroat Creek.

Society members pledge to resist counting the number of cutthroats they catch and unhook with their Runje Releasers each day.

So we used acceptable general terms such as “beaucoup” and “a semi-truckload.”

They nodded knowingly.

At Cutthroat Creek, the trout are handsome, the anglers smell strong and the fishing is always above average.

Contact Rich Landers at (509) 459-5508 or email

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