Last night was a big night in Idaho Falls, Idaho. I was the guest speaker at Jimmy Gabettas’s All Seasons Angler Fly Shop. It was the businesses 25th year anniversary and Simms was a sponsor for the event providing raffle items, clinics and food and drink. Well known fly tier and author Kelly Galloup did a tying seminar from 4 till 7 and then I presented “Fly Fishing through Midlife Heaven” as the grand finally of the evening. This has been my bread and butter presentation this year with stories and photos of all the fun I’ve had traveling and fishing since I left the fly shop. I spiced it up a little for tonight by adding in the “Miracle Mackerel” I caught a few weeks ago in Madagascar.
Today I fished a secret place. This will sound crazy, but this was my first fishing day in freshwater of the year after already nearly 30 days in saltwater. A weird stat for a guy from Victor, Idaho but I’m not complaining!
I fished with Jon Yusko. Jon is the Simms Representative for Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Jon and I go back many years because I bought plenty of Simms products when I managed the fly shop. Jon trailered down his jet boat from his home in Bozeman, Montana just so we could pull off this sneaky little fishing day during a time of year when any quality fishing is difficult to find due to high water from snow melt.
It was a late night at the All Seasons Angler so we didn’t get started till about 9 AM. When we went to bed it was dumping snow – not a pretty sight anymore as we approach May (2011 will go down as one of the wintriest springs in recent memory). It’s been flat out cold, snowy or at least wet day after day. Remarkably the sun was out this morning so after we unloaded snow from the boat we hit the river in high spirits. The weather stayed nice until about noon when the first snow flurry of the day began just as last nights snow was almost melted away of the trees. Despite the flurry, today’s the first day where the birds of spring were really noticeable with the recently arrived song birds singing up a storm. I also enjoyed watching a gnarly fight between two sandhill cranes and even heard the first humming bird of the year and the distant chorus of spring peeper frogs. This all means that this horrible wintery weather is going to stop soon – we hope!
This fishing place is unique in many ways. There were no other anglers. It’s a spring creek like environment yet there are so many beaver dams there’s more small lakes and ponds then creek. And today it was the ponds that held all the fish.
We saw quite a few cutthroats. Most were what I refer to as “gone doggy”, that is they were not feeding or moving. Perhaps this cold spring is getting to them too. You’d see them elevated a few inches of the bottom like a log and no matter what fly you cast their way they would not budge. I’d keep sneaking my casts closer until finally either my leader would touch the trout or my fly got too close and they’d spook and blast out of there not to be seen again.
Although the hatches were far from prolific, we did experience a trickle of mayflies. We saw a few tiny black stoneflies, blue wing olives, March browns and to my disbelief, a few huge size 14 PMD’s. But with the exception of a few fish that noticed, the bugs drifted on happily ever after to continue the life cycle of their species.
Jon and I each managed to scrape up one fish. Both were cutthroats. And because mine was my first trout of the year, both the trout and the day will be memorable. I caught this guy on a tattered parachute Adams while standing on a beaver dam. He was one of few trout I saw cruising on the hunt for bugs that flickered on the water. I knew all I had to do was get my fly the fifty feet out to the area he was patrolling. The problem I had is that I was balancing on a beaver dam. If I slipped off one side it was a 7 ft drop to a shallow rapid where the pond was squeezing through the dam. If I fell the other way I’d be in 10 ft deep of weedy mucky pond water. Along with that, the 8,000 twigs, sticks, logs and debris making up the dam consumed my fly line. Every time I went to shoot my line it was tangled up. That’s why once I caught this one fish, I crawled off this dam back to shore and found a new area to fish.
Today ended with the jet boat ride back down river to the boat ramp. We boated into the teeth of a strong icy cold wind with snow pellets beating our face. Once that boat was on the trailer I revved up the Explorer and cranked the heat. It was like getting off the river after a full day in December. It’s crazy that we love this stuff!
Granny and I are off to Yellowstone tomorrow for a very short excursion to see bears. You may remember last year’s blog and the bear search. We always manage to find a few. I just hope the weather doesn’t close the roads. It’s snowing again. That’s it for the first of many days of trout fishing in 2011.