South Fork Skiff
During the mid-1980’s Paul Bruun and a business partner, Ralph Headrick, were marketing a 14 1/2 ft. low profile, fiberglass drift boat named the South Fork Skiff. Hard bottom, high sided McKenzie and Rogue River-style fiberglass and aluminum drift boats had begun to join the ever-popular inflatable rafts on the Wyoming portion of the Snake in the late 1970’s. Drift boats were already popular in Montana and Idaho on such trout chasing favorites as the Madison, Yellowstone, Henry’s and South Forks of the Snake.
Such craft were restricted to larger rivers. Shallower, smaller freestone streams such as Wyoming’s Green, New Fork and Salt River were laced with low ranch bridges, many from railroad flat cars. Low bridge clearance eliminated standard drift boats but allowed aluminum john boats, small rafts and the newly introduced low profile style of “skiff” fishing boats.
A.J. is another Jackson poster boy of what my studious Kelly journalist pal Ted Kerasote wryly labels “pueraeternus,” or “the eternal boy.” So far, “living the dream” with a ski instructor/ fly-fishing outfitter gig keeps the Sanders homestead prospering
“Bruun, do you realize this boat is old enough to legally drink and vote?” Ralph Headrick asked as we skirted the turbulence from Volkswagen-size (oops) boulders surrounding the East Table Creek Campground.
While we reminisced about Snake River drift boat history, cutthroat gladly chomped the Opal Grey Trude being punched by his wife, Mary, via her 6-weight Sage, into a persistent late afternoon breeze.