At least the day ended well.
Having dropped my wife off at a social event around noon, I was excited to have a full day to explore small streams in the mountains. My main plan was to revisit a secret spot where I had great fishing for very colorful little Westslope Cutthroat last year. First, I would try a new small stream, a bit closer to my starting point -- the West Fork of the Teanaway. This required a 45-minute drive between drainages on old logging roads, but it would deposit me out on the main roads of the Teanaway valley and connect to my destination. Supposedly. Instead, I got almost to the West Fork and found that the road was blocked by foreboding signage, high bulldozed berms, and a stream crossing minus the "crossing" part. I walked in to fish that creek, which had some pools that looked appealing but no sign of trout.
Knowing what awaited at my next destination, I gave up quickly on the West Fork (after about five pools) because I would have to waste an extra couple hours driving around the long way to my next spot.
When I got there, it didn't disappoint. It's a tiny stream with a great density of hungry, colorful trout, stable flows, and prolific bug life. I followed it through the meadow I fished last year and up until it practically disappeared into the grass, catching well over fifty fish up to ten inches long. I caught a nine-incher where the creek was small enough to stand with a dry foot on each side; it was probably my all time biggest trout when measured in stream-widths (about 25 %), a unit a small-stream aficionado can appreciate as much as inches. When I ran out of water I headed downstream, catching more fish of the same size and spooking a mule deer and two bull elk. Small-stream fishing at its finest.