Picabo Angler

Pee-Ka-Boo is a Native American word meaning "Shining Waters."

Picabo Angler is a destination: A full-service fly shop & outfitter located on the banks of world-renowned Silver Creek

September 13, 2016

September 13, 2016


Any day now we’ll be seeing both Mahogany Duns and legitimate Fall Baetis. My journal documents that we first saw both bugs appear on September 15 last season and it has been cold the past couple of days and nights. I’ve pulled out my Mahogany Dun box and my wool shirts. I haven’t fished for a week because my waders are leaking a couple of quarts of water in each leg. The two pairs of new waders I ordered last week are supposed to arrive tomorrow afternoon; if they are delayed I will have to just go out and get wet because I am going through severe withdrawal. Hardly anyone is fishing the Ranch water despite some nice Tiny BWO action and a few Callibaetis in the afternoons. Hopper patterns have been productive as of late.


Most people in the Wood River Valley are aware of what a leader Bud Purdy was in the ranching industry, including being a pioneer in conservation practices. I’ll spare the details, as you can get them through a Google search. Many valley residents know what a fine man Bud was. I was privileged to have known Bud in his later years. Bud was the grandfather I never had.

I remember the morning I first met Bud Purdy. One October morning over a decade ago I dropped my float tube and gear off at Kilpatrick Bridge then parked my truck off at the Highway 20 Bridge. It was my plan to hitchhike back to Kilpatrick Bridge and float through the Purdy ranch. I stood at the shoulder holding my “Free Flies” sign which had always resulted in a ride within 14 cars. A gray pickup slowed down and when I climbed in the driver asked for the flies and I gave them to him.  I told him that I was going to launch my float tube upstream and asked him if he knew where Kilpatrick Bridge was. He smirked a bit and said he thought he could find it. When we got to the turn off from Highway 20 I told him that he could drop me off right there as I didn’t want to take him out of his way, but he took me down the gravel road anyway.

He disclosed that he was Bud Purdy, the ranch owner, and said that he usually had a half dozen anglers paying him $100 a day and that “float thru” guys like me disturbed their fishing. I told him that I always communicated with anglers when I was passing them, even offering to get out of the creek and walk around them. Bud warned that I’d better not get out of the creek or I’d be trespassing under the Stream Access Law. I began to getlittle frustrated so I asked him whether he and his wife were still using their Union Pacific arctic jackets, and he seemed a bit taken aback. Then I asked him whether he still received a Union Pacific calendar each year. He grew silent. Then I asked him how many UP ball caps he had. When he asked me “What gives,” I explained that my deceased father-in-law had been the Chief Engineer for 13 years and used to bring his inner circle up to the Double R Ranch for fishing and drinking every couple of years. I said my father-in-law had told me that if I didn’t fish the Double R Ranch water before I died then I was a dumber New York bastard than he suspected I was. At that point Bud allowed as how it probably wouldn’t hurt anything if I fished the Ranch water. When I asked him how many anglers were fishing the ranch that day so that I could avoid interfering with them, Bud said, “No one but a damn fool would fish today. It’s 28 degrees out there.” So, I thanked him and launched my float tube.

A couple of years ago Bud and I were seated at the morning coffee session at the Picabo Store. Bud asked those present if he had ever told them how he first met me. Bud proceeded to tell the story exactly as it had happened a decade earlier. When everyone else had left I asked Bud why he had left something out. He seemed puzzled. I told him that on that October day every time I looked over my shoulder I saw Bud’s gray pickup upstream of me, and asked him whether he was making sure I was not trespassing. Bud said that he was concerned that I might come down with hypothermia. That’s the kind of guy Bud was. When he took a hankering for you he actively cared about you, and he had spent the whole day looking out for me. 

When I returned to Picabo in the spring of 2011 after having my right leg amputated below the knee, I became the first and last campground host at Point of Rocks during May and June. Just before the Fourth of July, Bud sent Jim and Sherri Adams over to insist that I move my trailer onto the Double R Ranch, as Bud was concerned that I was vulnerable to what he called “two legged varmits.” I gladly accepted, thinking that August would be wonderful with AC power that could run air conditioning. That year former Stream Keeper Mike Reidel died and some Club Members suggested to Nick Purdy that I be appointed Stream Keeper, pointing out that I was already “squatting” on the Purdy Ranch. I continue in the path that Bud laid out for me, this being the fifth season I have volunteered as Stream Keeper.

Over the years I became good friends with Bud Purdy. About every three weeks I would bake a pie and bring it over to his house after dinner for the bull session we grew to call “Pie Night,” during which he would tell stories about hanging out with Ernest Hemmingway and Gary Cooper.  Bud once invited me over for his classic breakfast of bacon, sausage, eggs, his famous our dough pancakes, hash browns, toast, orange juice and coffee. It was an honor. Bud died just before I arrived in Picabo one April. I along with 500 other people attended his celebration of life event. In the middle of it I started to break down and didn’t want to make a scene so I went outside for a while. I eventually re-entered the ceremony, but it was a tough day for me. Many things I see tip off memories of Bud Purdy but most particularly his gray pickup which remains in service on the ranch as an irrigation truck with the “K-K” license plates.

Doug Andres, Steam Keeper, Double R Ranch