Celebrating 100 Years on the Teton River
In 2019 Teton Valley Lodge celebrated it’s 100th Season of Fly Fishing from our Lodge in Driggs, Idaho. To commemorate one hundred years of fishing, we were fortunate to be profiled in the Summer 2019 issue of Teton Valley Magazine.
Read the article below from Teton Valley Magazine and learn about some of our rich history guiding fly fishing trips in Teton Valley. Story includes the legend of my great grandfather, Alma Kunz, the first guide in Teton Valley and the official tourism ambassador for Idaho.
Trout of the Century
Celebrating one hundred years of fishing the Teton River
By Kate Hull, Teton Valley Magazine.
Each spring, around the time the snow melts, the Teton River gets filled with the chatter of the changing season: bugs hatching, trout rising, birds singing, ores thwapping the riverbed, and hopeful anglers casting their line. Fly fishing is engrained in our valley’s summer, like the ski hill is to winter. For Brian Berry, fly fishing is as much a story of Teton Valley’s history as his own, thanks to the legacy, and legend, of his great-grandfather Alma Kunz, the founder of Teton Valley Lodge and the region’s first guide.
Alma’s legacy has spanned the country. Sports Illustrated profiled his guiding prowess in a 1966 issue. He was the official promoter for Idaho tourism. When he passed away in 1965, dozens of newspapers ran his obituary. His reach was great and his impact even greater. Alma was Teton Valley’s first fly fishing guide.
“He was probably even the first guide in the western United States,”– Brian Berry
Brian, along with his wife Joselle Berry, are the fourth-generation owners of Teton Valley Lodge that Alma started in 1938.
But for Alma, it all began in 1919. The story goes that Alma, then just eighteen, was working for the dairy hauling milk to the Victor cheese factory. Yellowstone National Park was a new and popular draw to the area, and the Oregon Short Line Railroad, a subsidiary of the Union Pacific, that went to town put the sleepy community on the tourism map. Visitors would come in on the train, then take a stagecoach to West Yellowstone to see the park.
“At that time, Jackson was nothing but just a little one-horse town,” Brian says. “Victor and Driggs were the big town all because of the railroad. Visitors would ride back over the hill to Victor and get on the train to go home.”
One summer day, a businessman from back east went to the Teton River to try his luck fly fishing but to no avail.
“So, he went to the café in Victor and asked if anyone could help him go fishing,” Brian says.
“They told him to go to the cheese factory and find Alma because he is the best fisherman in town.”
Alma agreed to take the man fishing only if he’d first help him deliver his milk. For the next three days, the man would wake up and help Alma finish his work, then they’d head to the river.
“After that, Alma was a guide,” Brian says. He’d juggle fishing between dairy farming and trapping, until he eventually decided to open Teton Valley Lodge. Now, Brian runs a staff of twenty-five guides and welcomes visitors from across the globe, many of whom have made it an annual tradition with their and then grandchildren. For Brian and his family, that’s what makes the lodge so special.
“I can’t imagine another place where you could live that would be better than this,” Brian says. “It’s a great place to live and a great business to be a part of. You get to fish, but even better than that are the people get to share fishing with.”
Brian still guides regularly; it’s one of his favorite parts, after all. And as the lodge continues into its eighth decade in operation, and second century of the family’s history with guiding, Brian reflects on what his great-grandfather was able to accomplish.
“He started the lodge at the end of the Great Depression and right before WWII,” he says. “That’s pretty incredible to think about.”
Some things have changed over the years. Brian laughs at the memory of stories of the early years when guests fishes in a suit and tie. But the legacy of Alma’s love of the river, its trout, and the valley hold strong in how Brian and his family run the lodge today.
“A man who comes here just sent me a picture of his new baby the other day,” Brian says. “I’ve grow up with these people from all over the country. It’s pretty amazing.”