For the second year now, Rudy Schenk stood ankle deep in the Provo River with his fly-fishing rod just before Christmas. While other fishers dotted the banks of the river near Vivian Park on Saturday, Schenk was the only one dressed as Santa Claus.
“It’s really difficult to bite off a line with this,” Schenk said, referring to the white beard he was wearing. “I basically stay with the same fly the whole time because changing it out — kind of a pain.”
Dozens of motorists driving up Provo Canyon honked or waved at the sight of Kris Kringle in gaiters.
Brett Prettyman, a friend of Schenk, stood on the bank with a bag of candy canes for those who stopped to take photos. Last year, Prettyman and Schenk came up with the idea of a fly-fishing Santa as a way to spread Christmas cheer.
On Saturday, however, Schenk caught the eyes of more than just passing motorists. Eventually, a Utah Division of Wildlife Resources truck pulled into the parking lot at Vivian Park.
Conservation Officer Devin Shirley walked over to the two men, asking about their day.
“Is your, uh ... or is someone here...,” Shirley stammered.
He finally broke out into a laugh.
“Could I check your fishing license?” Shirley asked.
Schenk lifted up his Santa jacket to fish out his phone to show his electronic license. After verifying that Santa was fishing legally, Shirley posed for a quick photo.
After three hours, Schenk never caught a fish.
Apparently when it comes to fishing, even Santa can walk away empty-handed.