Category Archives: Clay Cunningham, Cody, Wyoming

Bison and Fly Fishing

Guest Blogger: Clay Cunningham, Cody WY, Former National Park Superintendent

As a rookie Ranger, right out of twelve weeks of training, I was assigned to Yellowstone for the more practical realistic on-the-job training by experienced rangers. I arrived at my new assignment on December 17, 1967. That winter was spent on boundary ski patrol with one of the best ski rangers in Yellowstone during Montana’s extended elk hunting season.

When the visitor season began, typically May to October, the Chief Ranger assigned me as the Madison Sub-District Ranger. One serious accident I investigated was a 37-year-old man who was attacked by a male bison. He had been trying to get a close-up picture of a bison with one of those throw away cardboard cameras when the bison charged and accurately drove his horn in the man’s rectum. His 12-year-old son said, “Boy, did daddy go high.” His father lived through the incident, and both he and the many witnesses got an education on what not to do when around a 1,400 to 2,000-pound wild bison. more…

The Value of Keeping a Journal

Guest Blogger: Clay Cunningham, Cody WY, Former National Park Superintendent

As a 12-year-old school boy trapper during the 1948 season a professional trapper was teaching me to trap furbearing animals. He also taught me to keep careful records of my observations, which sets were more productive than others and to maintain those notes forever. Over the years I collected numerous journals of my observations and success or failures on the trapline, hunting, the foods preferred by animals, fishing flies that appeared more productive than others and experiences of fishing in western and central Pennsylvania from 1948 to 1955, during three summers in the northern Adirondacks of my college years, during the years I fished in Yellowstone, the five years I fished the east side drainages of the North Cascades and almost nine years I was in central Alaska.

I had occasion to review those numerous journals of observations I wrote about during a recent research project that involved bison and wild horses. This is when I noticed my records indicated that there were some dry flies that were consistently productive in all the waters I fished from Pennsylvania, the Rocky Mountains, the North Cascades of Washington and Alaska. more…


Guest Blogger: Clay Cunningham, Cody WY, Former National Park Superintendent

There is a fine article in the Spring issue, 2017, of Fly Tyer magazine by Ed Van Put, entitled The Legend of Dan Cahill. Dan Cahill, it is alleged in stories, created the Cahill fly. But, the author’s extensive research, and he did an admirable job of research, could not find any contribution or source that confirmed Dan Cahill was a real person, or that he originated the pattern for the Cahill fly at all. Nevertheless, someone created the famous Cahill fly, but it appears the originator is absent in written historical references other than stories which the author could not find written references for corroboration. Quite possibly it was one of the famous Catskill fly tiers who was experimenting with derivations of Theodore Gordon’s famous contribution, the Quill Gordon. I guess we will never know. I readily admit I tied a lot of light and dark Cahill flies as a young beginning fly tier in Pennsylvania from 1948 through the 1950s. All those flies were as described in an old pattern book which I passed on to another beginning fly tier in 1994 along with my Herter’s $3.95 fly tying vise that I had been using for the previous forty-six years and it was still entirely functional. more…