Flexibility is a crucial mindset to have if you fish. Whether it be while traveling 8,000 miles from home or at home, things can happen that mess up an original plan. You can freak out and waste your time sulking or make a change in plan and do the best you can. Granny and I planned on floating the Lower Nunya this week. We were well organized and packed for the thirty-five mile two day float. But on Sunday afternoon a thunderstorm set the region on fire and the road to get there closed.
No doubt we were disappointed. Preparing for such a float takes days and we were ready. Furthermore, the Nunya float is one of our all-time favorites and with a hectic schedule in weeks to come we may not make it this year. But I tossed my frustration aside and broke out my Idaho Gazetteer and decided this week we’d go for a drive to new territory.
When exploring I bring my 4- and 5-weight Winston’s, floating lines and one box of dries ranging from caddis to hoppers. I stick in a few nymphs and call it good. The forecast was for temps in the 90°s so no waders but rather the Simms sandals. We sleep in the back of the Exploder so less is more on a trip like this. We had our grill and all the dream food we had planned to enjoy on the Nunya.
July 18, 2016
Granny got off work and hopped in the truck and we listened to the Cubs game on my XM and headed west then north for three hours. When the sun set we drove down a dirt road until there were so many darting jackrabbits I couldn’t see straight anymore. We pitched our camp chairs and enjoyed a couple cold ones then climbed in the truck and slept till 7 Tuesday morning.
July 19, 2016
It’s cool when you drive into an unfamiliar place in the dark then wake up and see where you are. I lit up the stove and put on the water for coffee then looked around. We’d found ourselves in a beautiful spot with sagebrush plains surrounded by massive Idaho peaks.
After coffee we continued our drive. It was a 55 mph zone but I was so enthralled with the new place I was doing 35. The poorly paved road was ours and we came to a public fishing access sign. The tilted sign said the access was .5 miles down some dirt so we went and found a small murky stream. The place was so intriguing that though it wasn’t even 9 AM we went for it.
I grew up on small streams and I love small streams and I don’t fish them enough. It seems my life is all about finding bigger better badder stuff. I wasn’t ten minutes into that ice cold water and felt as though I’d died and gone to heaven. It wasn’t about the scenery anymore nor catching fish. It was all about tuck casting, curve casting and accuracy to get my fly into the nooks and crannies. Its great fun and a skill of mine that needs some honing.
There were lots of hungry rainbows to catch. They couldn’t keep their lips off my yellow stimulator. I came to several deep pools and after I picked off the top water hunters I put on a nymph and Euro styled it through a few times hoping for some bigger bows. But to no avail – just a heap more par marked gems like this one.
Granny and I lost track of time and before we knew it we were under the afternoon sun. I reeled in then took one more look at the Gazetteer and we drove straight into the mountains to find another small stream with a gorgeous camp spot to spend the night. This doesn’t take long in the boonies of Idaho. When we got there we kicked back for lunch and a cold one before trying our new stream.
This stream was made of cascading pools, slippery rocks and tree covered banks. There were lots more small rainbows eager to eat. I was in 4-weight paradise. I tried to hand off the rod to Granny but she’s not into the small streams like me. She eventually left to relax in camp and prepare dinner. I wandered for another three hours and caught about thirty more little rainbows.
Granny’s camp dinners are to die for. Tuesday night was fresh Chinook salmon on the grill with some sort of scrumptious pasta side she made at home. I kept her drink full with plenty of ice. By now missing out on our Nunya float was so far in the past we didn’t know the plan once existed!
July 20, 2016
For us we slept late today. At home we’re up at 5:30 this time of year. But we camped in a canyon and the sun didn’t rise on us till 7 AM. Then we took the leisure to roll over a few times and I didn’t have the coffee done till almost 8. We soon found ourselves on the headwaters of this unknown creek bow and arrow casting into waters so small and tight you would think a trout couldn’t live.
Like yesterday the rainbows were eager. It was a blast sending each one of them airborne before my slightly opened barbless hooked caddis released them. There was no need to put a good fly on as there’s no need to land every one of these fish. Just the occasional close up was all we needed.
As my fly floated into a deep pool a trout took a nonchalant look then laid flat tight to bottom. There were glowing white rims on his fins that led me to believe it was a 12” brook trout. I love small stream brookies and changed dries three times to try and entice him up and back out of the pool but no luck. Finally I tied on a mini leach and lobbed a backhand cast through the tree branches.
The small char couldn’t resist. I hooked him and after a weak twisting fight I brought him to hand. Wow! This fish turned out to be only the second bull trout of my life and my first ever on fly! Bull trout are a protected species in Idaho and it’s illegal to target them. Once I identified the rare jewel we made sure to leave him in the water and take only one quick photo. Then off came the streamer and it was dry fly only for the remainder of the morning.
What a weekend salvaging the cancellation of our favorite trip down to the Nunya. Had this not happened we wouldn’t have experienced some of the great small streams of Idaho. We wouldn’t have caught a hundred colorful rainbows and I wouldn’t have added a new species to my list. Often times you look back in the mirror and it’s the unplanned adventures that are the best.