The Snake River Heating Up

blog_Aug_15_2010_1[1] We should have known our day would start slow when some kayakers asked us how big the fish in the Snake River can get. As we floated by them Chez answered, “My biggest ever was two feet.”

One of the kayakers responded, “Is that 23 inches?”

I picked up my rowing pace and off we went. I was floating with Gary Eckman and Scott Sanchez (Chez) and we were on the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park. There are several float trips in the Park; we did Pacific Creek to Deadmans. This float is about twelve miles long and is one of the most scenic float trips you can find on the planet. It’s directly under the Grand Teton mountain range blog_Aug_15_2010_2[1]and  so strikingly beautiful that it’s hard to follow your dry fly on the water without constantly being distracted by the view. Today the view was exceptional because there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky.

By now you know Gary. He is the founder and captain of the “Good Times” One Fly Team that I’m fishing on in September. You may also know Chez. He was on my blog in June when we went to the Big Hole River together. Chez is one of the most creative fly tiers of our time and we have been friends for nearly 25 years. He too is on Gary’s team. Anyway, it was another One Fly practice day. At this point in time contestants have no idea what stretches they will draw for the upcoming tournament blog_Aug_15_2010_3[1] so we’re trying to see as much of the Snake and South Fork Rivers as possible in the next couple weeks. The three of us are very familiar with both of these rivers but it never hurts to get some up to date practice.

The fishing on the Snake River typically gets good in mid to late August. What I mean by good is that the larger Snake River Cutthroats start to show themselves. Snake River Cutthroats are late spawners and spend much of the summer in the spring creeks flowing into the Snake. But as temperatures rise and water levels drop many of them migrate back to the main river. We figured today was a good time to have a look and see if they were around yet.

blog_Aug_15_2010_4[1] The fishing started slow. Gary rowed while Chez sat up front and tossed dries to the bank and I chucked streamers from the back of the boat. It’s doubtful that I’d ever throw a streamer in the One Fly on a Park stretch but because it’s so easy to lose your fly on sunken log (You only get one fly in the contest. You lose it your done!). I just wanted to see if I could move any monsters. While I picked up an occasional 12”er the monsters were no where to be seen.

We fished hard all morning. We rotated rowing, changed flies, fished the banks then tried inside turns, but the big fish where no where to be seen. We caught numerous small cutthroat trout but our biggest was only a 14”er I took on a brown and yellow screamer blog_Aug_15_2010_5[1] streamer. Actually that’s not true because I caught a lost lake trout that measured 16”s – an unusual catch on the river.

After a relaxing lunch and a couple cold beers we pushed off for the afternoon. Chez put on one of his famous Double Bunnies, an enormous streamer capable of luring out the most stubborn big fish in a river. Again, there was nothing spectacular to mention other than the scenery. But we’d been kind of glued to fishing the main river channel all day. One thing about the Snake River in the Park is that it has plenty of side channels. However, if you’re not familiar with them (and they change every year) you need to be careful about floating them. Many are un-navigable due to blog_Aug_15_2010_6[1] fallen trees. If you float down one for a half mile then run into this kind of trouble you are screwed. Playing it safe, we started rowing up the bottom of some channels and hit the lower pools. Sure enough we got a few cuttys around 15”s.

It was evident that the larger cutthroats were in the smaller water. That’s probably because the side channels are similar to the spring creeks where these fish spent June and July. We spent the remainder of our day floating and walking every side channel we could and the end result was about a dozen or so nice fish. Our biggest was one Chez subdued with a 3” long Double Bunny. This particular Snake River cutthroat trout came from under a fallen lodgepole pine. It looked like the burly fish was going to get blog_Aug_15_2010_7[1] back in there and break Chez off but Scott wisely jumped out of the boat for a little extra leverage and managed to win the battle.

It was another great day on the river with friends. If the One Fly was to start tomorrow I think we’d do just fine. Instead, tomorrow will be an artwork day along with some packing for a Tuesday Wednesday weekend with Granny. This week we will chase around the carp. Stay tuned . . . as you never know with carp fishing!

After a relaxing lunch and a couple cold beers we pushed off for the afternoon. Chez put on one of his famous Double Bunnies, an enormous streamer capable of luring out blog_Aug_15_2010_8[1] the most stubborn big fish in a river. Again, there was nothing spectacular to mention other than the scenery. But we’d been kind of glued to fishing the main river channel all day. One thing about the Snake in the Park is that it has plenty of side channels. However, if you’re not familiar with them (and they change every year) you need to be careful about floating them. Many are unavigatable due to fallen trees. If you float down one for a half mile then run into this kind of trouble you are screwed. Playing it safe, we started rowing up the bottom of some channels and hit the lower pools. Sure enough we got a few cuttys around 15”s.

It was evident that the larger cutthroats were in the smaller water. That’s probably blog_Aug_15_2010_9[1] because the side channels are similar to the spring creeks where these fish spent June and July. We spent the remainder of our day floating and walking every side channel we could and the end result was about a dozen or so nice fish. Our biggest was one Chez subdued with a 3” long Double Bunny. This particular Snake River Cutty came from under a fallen lodgepole pine. It looked like the burly fish was going to get back in there and break Chez off but Scott wisely jumped out of the boat for a little extra leverage and managed to win the battle.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing web site

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