September 18-19, 2010
Five days in a row without fishing breaks that four day record I set a few weeks ago. But I had work to get done because from here on out I need to be ready to enjoy the fall and some of the best fishing of the year. The last two days I fished with friends Ben Brennan, Doug McKnight and Micah Kruger (Meeks). All three guys worked for me in the Jack Dennis fly shop years ago and unlike most of my former employees they are still in the fly fishing business. Ben lives in Jackson, WY and is a fishing guide for Snake River Anglers. Doug lives in Livingston, Montana and just quit working at the Yellowstone Angler Fly Shop to pursue his art and fly tying. Doug is a contracted fly tyer for Umpqua Feather Merchants and is the man behind patterns such as the Home Invader, Sweetgrass Hopper and the Pigpen Leech. These are great flies and if you don’t have them in your box you need to get some. Meeks lives in Bend, Oregon and is a representative for fly fishing service products including Fishhound, a fly fishing information site and FLyBOOK, a fishing guide and outfitter reservation system. When you get a chance, definitely check out the Fishhound website.
We don’t see enough of each other these days so we wanted to make sure we did something exceptional. Our choice, an overnighter in the canyon of the South Fork of the Snake River. Even though I’ve been on the South Fork weekly all summer long, I loved the idea of doing it again. As you know by now from my previous reports the South Fork has fished its best in over ten years.
We launched our two boats at Husky (two miles below the Palisades Dam) Saturday morning and pulled out at Byington, some thirty-four miles downstream on Sunday night. When we pushed off, the boats were heavy and low in the water due to our camping supplies and an excessive amount of food and drink. One thing we all love to do is eat like kings on a camping and fishing trip. We had bratwurst, steak, chicken, a heap of veggies, cookies and chocolate bars along with a few tasty brews to wash the delicious food all down. Regardless of the weight, we started fishing immediately. I rowed Doug in my boat and Ben rowed Meeks. Doug busted out of the gates with a healthy brown on his Home Invader streamer pattern. Things were looking good but that brown actually turned out to be the only fish for the first few hours. At about 2 pm I took a small side channel and Doug twitched a big ant pattern on the surface and caught a big cutthroat/rainbow hybrid. Shortly after we met up with Ben and Meeks for lunch and unfortunately they had not landed a fish yet.
It was obvious the South Fork was not fishing like it had all summer. It finally slowed down. I often wonder how a river can simply shut down like this. Perhaps it’s from the fishing pressure or simply a slow down in hatches. The South Fork typically shuts down in August then picks up again in September. But not this year. It’s been good since the season started. It was no wonder it finally got tough.
Tough fishing was not going to put a damper on this trip. The weather was a toasty 75º degrees. There was very little wind and the bratwursts made for a scrumptious lunch. We had a ways to go before night fall so we turned the next few hours in to a joy ride out of the civilization found on the Upper South Fork stretch and floated into the wilderness of the Canyon. Entering the canyon at sunset is a sight to behold. Making few casts at the same time and you may as well have died and gone to heaven. Doug racked up a couple nice cutthroats before we rowed into camp near the mouth of Pine Creek.
Preparing camp was simple. There was no need for tents. There wasn’t a cloud in sight. We just threw down our insulate pads and sleeping bags and set up our camp chairs. Then we watched Meeks make a kitchen and prepare about twenty shish kabobs. My mouth was watering at the shear sight of them. It was all I could do to hold back. Luckily the talk and drink kept us all in check. By the time our feast was over the sky was full of stars. We brewed up a nice fire for warmth and kicked back. Just as all was perfect, Ben’s dog went crazy barking up a tree. I whipped my light into the tree expecting to see a raccoon and was surprised to see a baby pine marten. He was cute as can be gazing down at us from the cottonwood tree. I’ve seen quite a few over the years but it was a first for the boys. We watched him a few minutes then the dog lost interest and it was back to the fire.
It’s amazing how fast these weekends go by. We had a relaxing morning warming up in camp with coffee then fished hard all day. Today Meeks hopped in my boat and Ben and Doug fished together. The fishing was slow again. We caught a few nice fish but it was nothing like the fishing I’ve been spoiled with all summer. However there were no complaints. Today was an unusual 80º degrees and anytime you get a bonus day of summer in September you smile. We pulled the boats and empty coolers out at the Byington Boat Ramp at 7 pm and made a dash for burgers at the Knotty Pine in Victor Idaho. A great trip with friends came to an end.
Ben has to work tomorrow but Dougy, Meeks and I might wet a line somewhere special for a few hours tomorrow. We’re pretty beat from our two day adventure so we aren’t committing to anything. We’ll just wake up in the morning and decide on fishing over coffee on the back porch.