You should remember my South Africa blogs back in November. Granny and I had the time of our lives there visiting many friends and we tracked down a few fish along the way. The last segment of our trip we spent with FlyCastaway owners Tim Babich and Ryan Hammond. They took us to the famous Sterkfontein Dam for three fun days of smallmouth yellowfishing. Today I was able to spend time with them on my favorite river right here in Idaho, the Henry’s Fork.
A few of us hosted Tim and Ryan. Founders of the famous TroutHunter, Rich Paini and Jon Stiehl, put the day together as a float through the Harriman Ranch. Along with us was another longtime friend, Rene Harrop. If you’re not familiar with Rene you need to be. Rene is a true master of the Ranch on the Henry’s Fork and his books will teach more tricks about dry fly fishing than you can imagine.
We loaded the Yeti’s in the boats right in front of the TroutHunter and pushed off under blue sky and a light wind. Like almost every day this summer, the light wind picked up and threatened our chances. Furthermore, there was no hatch. But the way the Ranch works, you always keep your eyes open. Sure enough we found a bank feeder for Tim showing his massive white mouth feeding on something only a trout’s eyes can see.
This was by no means an easy cast. The large rainbow really was actively feeding on something we couldn’t see and the wind was playing havoc with Tim’s 16 foot leader. Tim definitely dropped a few casts short then a couple in the grass. The fish was so engrossed in his feeding he didn’t take notice (funny how even the smartest fish can be when eating). Eventually Tim made the perfect cast and the fish munched his flav spinner.
I was ready with the camera to get some awesome jump shots. Most the big rainbows of the Ranch jump several times. Of course this big boy just wanted to tow Tim around and take him downstream. Rich and I followed along hoping the big bow wouldn’t come off and after a few minutes Rich got the net under him.
The trout was big. Almost all the Ranch fish are big but this was a true specimen close to 20” if not a little more. Tim was stoked because he’d dreamt of catching a big rainbow on the Henry’s Fork. I was stoked because I know how hard big fish were to come by two weeks ago to the day during my Marathon. This could be, and in fact would be, our only catch of the float.
No more fish wasn’t for the lack of effort. The six of us parked the boats and walked the famous “Bonefish Flats” section of the Ranch for hours. The wind conditions creating waves and a few whitecaps didn’t make it easy. I spotted two more big bank feeders. Tim cast to the first but no luck. The second however he hooked but lost.
We pulled off the river at 5 and returned to TroutHunter for a few beers. While we drank them we kept a watchful eye at the Last Chance section of the Henry’s Fork hoping for some insects and big feeding rainbows to follow. The bugs didn’t show up but by pure luck there were two rocks that ended up supporting four nice rainbows. Again, the Henry’s works in mysterious ways.
To get them required getting in the water. It’s cold here this week and wadering was the preferred method. But wadering up takes time. I convinced the Africans to wet wade. Ryan was reluctant for sure but Tim went for it. Soon his mind was off the cold of his legs and focused on the risers. He ended up hooking all four and landing two. A truly epic day for Tim on the most holy dry fly water in the world!
Tim was frozen by the time it was too dark to fish anymore. It hardly gets this cold where Tim and Ryan live in the dead of winter. He shivered his way back to the TroutHunter where we warmed up and powered down 1/2lb buffalo burgers. It’s been a great day and as of now we have plans to hunt some more fish together on the Rizzo River on Friday.