In 1981 I left public accounting for good to start a new career with EG&G Energy Measurements. EG&G was a 40-year contractor at the Nevada Test Site, or NTS (now the Nevada National Security Site). At that time, late into the Cold War era following World War II, the primary mission of the NTS was the testing of the U.S. nuclear weapon stockpile as well as new weapon development, from both weapon physics and weapon effects perspectives. I envisioned this was to be a long-term career change.
Shortly after responding to a job ad for Internal Auditor, I was interview by Jim Jones, the EG&G Audit Manager. I was just 25 years old, married with no children yet (although my wife and I had lost our first child, Melissa, in September of the previous year). I believe Jim was 60 years old. I could tell from the interview I would like working for Jim. Although a little crusty, he was lovable. It wasn’t until later that I learned he was prone to drinking cheap wine and dispensing snippets of sarcasm. Ironically, he was just what I needed at that time in my young life. My own father died when I was but 3, mother never remarried, and so Jim was one of several father figures in my life.
|A twenty-six old FisherDad, with Jim at his Yellow Pine cabin, circa 1982.|
Jim might not have been a technical financial auditor, but he was an old-school operational auditor. He once tested property controls by stealing a typewriter right past Wackenhut’s armed security guards during business hours. This preceded the advent of personal computers, and the bulky IBM Selectric weighed about 35 pounds. He was, surprisingly, a licensed certified public accountant (CPA), which was a source of aggravation for his boss, Jack Humphrey, who was himself an accountant but who could never pass the CPA exam. Jim taught me a lot about patience and perseverance (grossly lacking in all men in their twenties), but he also had a gift for writing, even if they were business reports. He loved to read; you often find that readers are decent writers too. While reviewing my draft audit reports Jim imparted upon me the importance of choosing the right word to convey the intended meaning. I worked for Jim for about 30 months, after which time I transferred into the Finance Division, eventually succeeding John Fisk as Treasurer and Director of Finance. There are quite a few stories worth telling about those EG&G years, but they don’t have a thing to do with fishing.
|Interior view of the cabin's lava-stone fireplace.|
Jim had purchased a lot in the Yellow Pine district along Mammoth Creek. For reference, Mammoth Creek drains the eastern slope of southern Utah’s Markagunt Plateau into the Sevier River just south of Hatch, Utah (at 279 miles, the Sevier is the longest river completely contained within Utah's boundaries). At the time I started working for Jim, he had just hired a cabin builder to construct a functional cabin with water, sewer, and electric. It was a one-bedroom, one-bath, full kitchen cabin with a loft and large roofed deck. He invited me there often, particularly in the early spring to help him open it and in the late fall to winterize and close it. Some might assume I was simply cheap labor, working for time on the trout stream, but I think Jim liked having me around, and I think he saw an opportunity to provide extra mentoring. Through his generosity, I was allowed to use the cabin often, which my young family, including Nick, Doug, and grandma Nanny, really appreciated.
|FisherDad splitting wood for time on the creek.|
|A badger caught crossing the road to Hatch Meadow.|
|Nick, age four, overlooking Mammoth Creek in Yellow Pine subdivision.|
Over the course of the next ten years or so I explored quite a bit of Mammoth Creek from Hatch Meadow on up. Ironically, the first trout I caught on Mammoth was a cutthroat. I caught it in the meadow stretch on a dry fly. Totally unaware cutthroat were ever stocked in the creek, I expected it to be a small brown trout. In my exuberant naiveté I imagined it was a wild Bonneville cutthroat (indigenous to Utah), but my inquiry with Utah Department of Wildlife burst my bubble when they responded it was a stocked cutthroat of the mere common variety. Still, it was a cutthroat, and it was my first ever. For a few years I caught several more cutthroats in Mammoth.
FisherDad’s first ever Mammoth Creek trout, a cutthroat with signature
orange slash on its lower jaw.
|Here's the sixteen-inch brown trout laid on Mammoth Creek clover.|
Fishing the meadow section of Mammoth was not easy. There was no cover for the fish, just deep cut banks as the creek meandered through the grazing pasture. I never caught more than one or two fish during a two-hour fishing session, and they usually were ten to twelve inches. However, there was one memorable trip when I was fortunate to catch a very healthy sixteen inch brown trout. I was casting upstream using a nymph pattern I tied from fur I had raked off Buffy, our gray calico cat. I think the fly resembled caddis fly larvae in a stone casing, but who knows what the trout thought it looked like. I cast blindly upstream from the left side just below where the creek cut deep into the bank as it switched directions. From my position I couldn’t see the fly or my line, so I was simply stripping line in as it drifted back down to me when I felt the line go taught. The trout fought stoutly; it was the largest I had ever caught at that point in my fishing experience. It was beautifully and traditionally colored for a fall brown trout. It was a female full of roe, and I felt very guilty for killing it because the opportunity for her to spawn new wild trout was lost forever.
|A crass photo of the same sixteen-inch brown trout.|
|The southwestern view of Jim's Yellow Pine cabin, circa 1983|
|A very young FisherDad, September 1982|