Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Big Fish Small Creek

I decided to finally put a fly fishing blog together detailing and documenting some of my outings. It is a work in progress and the format will be transitory until I get it nailed down.

It is hard to beat the fly fishing opportunities that the Gem State offers. Spent a few hours this afternoon on an alpine creek in South East Idaho. The creek is 12-15 feet wide in most places but still offers cutthroat of surprising size. In other similar creeks close to this the cuts average around 10 inches and a 12-13 inch fish is large. In the creek I spent the afternoon in a 12 inch trout is average, a 14-15 inch fish good, and 17 inch fish is a large fish.

I used to fish this creek fairly regularly, but it has been almost ten years since I last tromped up this trail. I had heard a few years back that a low water year had killed the fishery and since then I just never made time to return, instead fishing other small local creeks. My loss, the fishing is fantastic and this will return to the number 1 position in my list of fun creeks to toss hoppers on to wild native cutthroats in the late summer/early fall.

The creek is a little remote and requires about a 20 minute drive on washboard covered dirt roads to get to the trailhead. There are wild raspberries hidden in the shady spots around the willows. The north facing slopes are carpeted with deep and dark growths of white pine mixed with the odd clump of aspen and the south facing slopes are covered sparsely with juniper which transitions into lodge-pole and douglas at higher elevations.

A thick growth of willows surrounds the creek and the meadows are full of wildflowers and sage. As you walk the trail up the canyon clouds of large hoppers with light cream yellow bellies take flight.

The cutthroats were hungry and a well slapped hopper pattern produced hits on almost every drift. In one deep spot under an overhanging willow, the first drift produced two fat fish knocking each other askew. The second drift resulted in the larger of the fighting pair and the third drift produced the other brawler.

These fish give you 2-3 tries max, rising and nibbling on your fly before they refuse to rise. So if you miss in the first two strikes, well you are best advised to move onto the next hole. They have a habit of grabbing hoppers by the legs and slowly rolling them under, a mannerism that is tough on rubber legs. and as the wriggly legged flies outfish the no legged flies it is best to have a good supply of hoppers in you arsenal.

Three hours of fishing produced almost 20 fish. The majority in the 12-13 inch range but 4 or 5 went 15 inches or better. All but one were hooked on a hopper pattern. The exception was hiding in a deep and tricky lie at the base of a tree. He came up 3 or 4 times and looked at my hopper but I could never quite get him to bite so I tied a wet fly on the bend of the hoppers hook and drifted through a few more times till he took the wet fly.

As the creek is remote but still gets a fair amount of pressure it will remain nameless. Those who are familiar with the area already know where it is, and those who don't well they can try to wheedle it out of me.


Wildnative said...

Nice page. I've added a link to your spot from my blog.

We are approaching my favorite time to fly fish!

Hopefully, I'll be in your woods soon.

pat said...

Nice Blog!! I've added it to my Reader. Keep the info coming!


Ben said...

Nice blog and great first post, check mine out if you want...


Benjamin said...

awesome post, I'm from IF and saw the picture and knew exactly where it was. One of my favorite places to fly fish growing up.