September 8-9, 2015
The drastic slam-dunk of fall weather that hit me while up in Montana this past weekend put a fire under me to get out fishing and camping. The last camping Granny did was with my nieces and her last cast was over a month ago in Labrador. Monday night as the Cubs slaughtered the Cardinals we stocked the cooler with beer, champagne, juicy steaks and more snacks than you can eat in a week and jammed the camping and fishing stuff in my new 1991 Explorer to get ready for a good time.
Bright and early on Tuesday we headed out. Although our direction of travel was decided our actual destination was unknown. While driving I came up with a wild thought about hiking into a small stream that feeds a crystal clear lake in Idaho. I fished this mountain stream somewhere between ten and twenty years ago and remembered endless numbers of fish and a short flat hike. We went for it.
I broke my Teva strap 100 yards from the car and figured with the easy hike no big deal and switched to flip flops and trekked like a Himalayan porter. It turns out my memory isn’t what it used to be. The hike was long and rugged and took almost two hours to get in. I’m no Himalayan porter and slipped and slid the entire way in and out. It’s a wonder I’m not in a cast with a broken ankle.
The stream was gorgeous but much smaller than I recalled. Its character is made up of cascading waterfalls and pools for miles (more awesome terrain for flip flops). As for fish, well there weren’t nearly as many as I remembered. We fished hard for two hours and caught only one. Indeed this is a beautiful little rainbow on a dry but Granny and I have passed the days of four hours of hiking for two hours of fishing and one fish!
After limping the last few miles back to the Explorer we bolted to a place we know well. A place to camp, drink and eat our steaks. Best of all we were on the river and both able to soak our feet in refreshing cold water. After another victorious Cubs game listened to around the campfire we crashed and slept in till a whopping 7:30 AM when the warm sun hit the truck.
After a delicious Granny breakfast on our new camp stove we wadered up and set out fishing. Last year this place was phenomenal this exact week then two weeks later void of life. We had no idea what to expect and when Granny fished through the first good pool without raising a fish on the hopper we thought our fishing weekend was going to be a total bust.
The late summer day was far too nice to give up easy and I took on the next run. I fished a Red Winged Chernobyl and twitched over a dimple rise that most anglers would write off as a small trout. I gave a big mend and jerked the giant ant fly a foot or more and saw the shape make its move. I hooked up to a more than respectable brown trout.
Often the big browns don’t jump and can fight kind of lazily. But not this guy. He leaped several times and got so wild that he ran almost completely up on the far bank. When his belly dragged he figured it out and sped back to the pool. Moments later I beached the handsome brownie for a photo.
Our fishing was nothing like last year at this same time. We landed one more big brown trout and three rainbows and we fished hard and covered a mile of river. Nonetheless, we caught them all on big dry flies, something that two weeks from now we probably won’t be able to do because the hoppers will fade away with the morning frosts. All in all it was a superb weekend with a little bit of everything.