Never too Cold for Cannon Balls

July 27 – 28, 2010

I love to travel but it’s always good to be home. Granny and I wait many months to enjoy our summers. One of the favorite things we like to do is to float the many great rivers within a couple hours from home. This week we did our absolute favorite float, the Lower Nunya. It’s a two day overnight trip we dream about during the winter months.

I spent all Monday packing our camping and fishing gear along with organizing the boat. It’s a shame, but because I’ve been gone so much this past spring and early summer we’ve only had the boat out one time. Life jackets were buried in the garage, my bent boat plug needed replacement and the list went on. Finally at 4:30 I made it to Jackson to pick Granny up from work and off we went to the river.


We camped out Monday night and then before sunrise we loaded up with coffee and drove to the launch. As hoped we pushed off the loaded down boat before 8 am. The weather predictions were a little sketchy to say the least. High winds and violent thunderstorms were in the forecast. I packed rain gear I’d typically take for us in October and lots of extra clothes. A brisk wind kicked in early and there was every indication that the forecast was right.

We went quite a ways before our first fish of the day. The water levels are extremely low. The Nunya is affected by a dam and irrigation. It was apparent that the fish were not in the usual spots. To try to find them we started twitching huge dry flies over the deepest of pools. Then we went tight to the grassy banks. Granny can drift her fly literally one inch from the bank better than anyone in the business. At first neither efforts made much difference, but finally she got ripped by a nice 16″ rainbow.

Once the skunk is out, my boat generally leads us to a steady flow of fish. It was true Tuesday. Granny took the oars and I immediately botched up two nice browns. One I never set the hook on because I was watching a moose, then the next one I simply set too soon. When I finally got a nice fish on, I lost him on the first jump. It was Granny’s turn before I knew it.

We went a long way again without a fish sighting. This is typical on this section of river because of its lack of structure and wide shallow flats. The water temps get too hot for your average trout. We like it because not many other boats float here because of the mediocre fishing, but for the most part this place is where you enjoy the wildlife, scenery and camping.

It turns out the weatherman was wrong. By 2 pm it was easily 90 degrees and the wind completely stopped. There were a few puffy clouds but no sightings of thunderheads. I was shirtless all the way until sunset. Actually I was wearing half a can of Deep Woods OFF because the mosquitoes and horseflies are miserable. We stumbled into a couple more fish. Both were cutthroats living about fifty feet apart. And both were huge – pushing twenty inches or more. That was a good thing, but the slow fishing overall was a little disappointing.

We always bring plenty to eat and drink. At 7:30 we reached one of my favorite places in the world, beached the boat and set up camp. Granny cooked up an incredible chili dinner and we drank a bottle of red. As we sipped our wine we took turns scanning rock cliffs that we see enormous amounts of wildlife every time we go. Last year we watched two bobcats play for over an hour. This week the hillside was full of mule deer, the occasional moose and numerous raptors.

A storm moved through at about 4 am in the morning. It rained lightly for an hour but then stopped. I got up early and made a pot of coffee and we looked for the bobcats again with no luck. We were fishing before 7 am and the cooler temps made a big difference. Granny got into a bunch of very nice fish in one of my favorite pools. In three back to back casts she landed a hefty brown, a rainbow and then a cutthroat. It was in that same pool that we had the highlight of our weekend as well. I always fish two flies. At least once a year I land two fish at a time (I’m due). Granny only fishes two flies when she happens to pick up my rod. She has never caught two fish at once.

That nearly changed in an instance when a slow moving cutthroat took her top fly. She hooked him and as he turned the point fly (lower fly) got nailed by what looked like a brown that would put a smile on even the most spoiled of anglers. That brown took off the complete opposite direction of the cutthroat and snapped my 0X like it was nothing! I’ve seen it happen before and was not so surprised. Granny however went crazy and wanted to fish three flies the rest of the day if it were allowed!

Dry flies and 0X sounds insane to most people. But trust me, if you are fishing the big dries typical of the Jackson Hole area, heavy tippet is a must. Most Chernobyl ant type flies will twist a tippet while casting and light tippets will completely tangle and spin up on you. Although 0X is stout, if you are twitching your flies like we often do, the fish never hesitate to take the fly because of a thick tippet. And in this hot weather you can land them fast and release the trout unharmed.

Our favorite weekend of the year did not let us down. Although fishing wasn’t fast and furious, our end result was a few nice fish, fantastic (unexpected) weather and good food and drink. The wildlife was abundant and the scenery seems to get better every year. Today it’s back to work for both of us. I’ll be back on the water with my webmaster on Friday. I’ll be floating him and his girlfriend on some secret water.

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