In 1966 Sports Illustrated journalist Jack Olsen spent some time with my great grandfather Alma Kunz. Several years back we bought a bunch of these off eBay. Very cool to look through and think about all that has happened at the Lodge since Alma was around. We give thanks to him and his passion for fishing the Teton River. The following is an excerpt from the article that appeared in the May 16, 1966, edition. Follow the link at the bottom of the post for the entire article.
And then one day in late spring the last drop of snow melts off the valley floor and trickles into the Teton River. Up in the hill caves, black bears open their heavy eyes and yawn and wonder where the fat has gone, and red foxes romp about in the meadows and exchange coy premarital glances. Pocket gophers turn to their summer-long task of aerating the soil, one hole at a time, and coyotes howl from the heights, harrowing the souls of sheep and doggies out to graze unguarded. The river is milky and full with the spring runoff rolling down from the glaciers and snowfields of the Grand Tetons and welling up through springs and pouring in from feeder brooks. But somewhere beneath the surface, a logy-winged mayfly manages to wriggle out of its shuck and pop up to the top, where it vibrates and tries to twitch life into its wings when—splat!
The trout season is on.
In this Teton valley of southeastern Idaho, just over the mountain range from the Jackson Hole country of Wyoming, you are nobody unless you are a trout or a potato or Alma Kunz. The trout are cutthroats, rainbows, and brooks; they live in the whole 60-mile stretch of the Teton River and keep it aboil with the intensity of their feeding. The potatoes are the money crop for valley farmers, who celebrate the lowly tuber by naming their drive-in theater The Spud and by eating quantities of a local candy bar called Idaho Spud. Alma Kunz is like Faulkner’s Dilsey: he endures. For 58 years now, Alma has fished the moss-ridden reaches of the upper Teton; it is commonly believed by the local folk that Alma could catch trout in the swimming pool of the Flamingo Motel in Idaho Falls, an opinion which I have learned to share, and his fame has spread so far that fishermen from thousands of miles around come to Alma’s Lodge near the village of Driggs, Idaho to “Contest” (accent on the first syllable in the local vernacular) Alma, betting him $1 a fish and driving back home on their credit cards. Men like the chairman of American Airlines, the presidents of Richfield Oil and General Dynamics and other fat cats of big business drop everything to come out and fish with Alma; California lawmakers have been known to visit him and then introduce resolutions about him into the Legislative Record.