I’m still not completely adjusted to the drastic time change here in Bhutan. I was up making instant coffee before 5 AM. This actually works to our advantage however because we get on the road early. We pulled out of Haa Valley at 5:30 AM and back over the pass to Paro where we fished Day 1. Dawes and I are determined to put our raft on the water. The Paro River has enough water for us.
Once again, the drive was outstanding back up over the monstrous pass. I can’t tell you how much there’s to see on these drives. One thing I didn’t mention yesterday is all the prayer flags on top of the pass. Its fascinating to see them ripping in the wind. They’re everywhere you look ranging from groups of white ones to long lines of colored ones.
As we descended we took in all the beautiful flowers and huge trees. Many Himalayan countries have destroyed much of their forest but not here in Bhutan. There are huge trees everywhere. Today we even saw several different species of wild pheasants.
When we rolled back into Paro we had to scout a section to float – easier said than done. This small but swift river has a few gnarly rapids to contend with. Ones that are especially rocky because of the low water. Dawes is a top boatman so I let him make the call.
Once set on our stretch we drove up to our desired put in and assembled the raft. This is normal duty for Dawes and me but it was a first for Jigme and Sangay. They looked like two kids on Christmas day helping us put the craft together. As with any new boat we had to name it before push off. A lot of ideas got tossed around but at the last second I suggested Idaho – and Idaho it is.
Dawes and I pushed off as Jigme and Sangay watched with pure amazement. They weren’t the only ones. (Photo by Niel Fox – be sure to see Niel’s website!) Bhutanese are not water people. Few swim and floating rivers has never crossed their minds. A broken dirt road went along the river and so did Jigme and Sangay. They hooted, hollered and cheered as we went downstream. They absolutely loved the sight of a boat going down their river in Bhutan.
Dawes and I did a lot of hooting and hollering of our own. The chubby wild brown trout of the Paro River went nuts over my orange Stimulator – once again. Everywhere there should be a trout, there were two! We lost count of all the gorgeous browns we caught.
Today was our last day of trout fishing. Our assessment is that the both the Paro and Haa Rivers are jam packed with brown trout. But as for big ones – they must be far and few between. The largest we caught may have topped off at 14”. Where are the bigger ones? We have a few theories but poaching is likely the factor. Despite fishing being illegal unless you have a permit, as the sun sets the locals come out fishing with cans and lures. There’s no doubt that the larger trout get taken. The good news is that there are hundreds more trout rivers in Bhutan. In fact when Dawes was here in January of 2013 he found larger trout on the more remote rivers of Bhutan.
Tomorrow we head south to begin our mahseer expedition. Stay tuned as we search for one of my favorite fish on Earth!
A special thanks to Niel Fox for letting me use the photo of the man spying on us as we float. You will see more of Niel’s incredible photography as he keeps clicking away throughout this journey. You definitely want to see Niel’s website www.basedonatruestory.co.uk