Tuesday, December 29, 2009

SE Idaho Fly Tying Expo

One of the premier shows in the country. April 16-17 2010 Idaho Falls Idaho. Mark your calendar. The Snake River Cuttroat organization that hosts this show raises significant money which is used for cutthroat conservation and habitat restoration.

2010 East Idaho Fly Tying Expo from Idaho Falls Magazine on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Idaho Yellowstone Cutthroat Management Plan

From 2007. This one has some good information and can be a good resource for finding new fishing spots.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Good Reading

Discussing the differences between fine spotted and large spotted Yellowstone cutthroat trout (Snake river cutthroat and Yellowstone Cutthroat) and whether the constitute separate sub species. An interesting paper from a couple years back: http://www.fs.fed.us/r4/caribou-targhee/fisheries/documents/proceedings_yct_spot.pdf .

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Restoring Cutthroat Habitat in Colorado

Final decisions on how to go forward with cutthroat habitat restoration in Colorado after a decade of legal wrangling. The area in question is below the reservoir on Long Draw Pass. The operations of the reservoir dries the creek below during the winter months. The compromise still keeps the creek dry in the winter but in exchange the operators have agreed to restore 43 miles of habitat elsewhere in the watershed. The plans should be available in January. See http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20091207/NEWS01/912070310/1002/CUSTOMERSERVICE02/Trout-habitat-now-on-the-line for more details.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Downright Balmy & Protecting Westslope Curtthroat

After a week+ of sub zero temperatures today it is supposed to actually get over freezing. I went out this morning around 7:00 am and it felt pretty warm, almost tropical ;)

Glacier national Park is proposing some regulation changes to boost westslope cutthroat populations, namely:

1. Catch-and-release for cutthroat trout west of the Continental Divide.
Exception: Catch and possession limit of two cutthroat trout from Hidden, Evangeline, and Camas lakes.

Justification: Native westslope cutthroat trout would benefit from additional protection to maintain strong populations in the park in the face of expanding non-native species, and they are extremely vulnerable to angling. The proposed change would result in increased consistency between GNP and the State of Montana westslope cutthroat trout fishing regulations on the west side of the park. Hidden, Evangeline, and Camas lakes contain non-native Yellowstone cutthroat trout populations which may pose a genetic risk to downstream native westslope cutthroat trout populations. Allowing harvest of Yellowstone cutthroat from these waters allows for continued angler harvest opportunity for non-native fish.

2. Place lower McDonald Creek under the general park fishing season dates, limits, and methods of fishing.

Justification: Continuing a special catch-and-release regulation limited to the use of artificial flies or lures on lower McDonald Creek is not likely to have a measurable impact on westslope cutthroat trout abundance in the McDonald Lake system, and this change would simplify the regulations. Allowing anglers to catch and harvest non-native fish species such as lake and rainbow trout from lower McDonald Creek would also be consistent with park fisheries management direction.

3. Modify and clarify the regulations for Hidden Lake and outlet. The outlet of Hidden Lake and an area extending 100 yards into the lake would be closed to fishing through July 31 to protect spawning cutthroat.

Justification: Hidden Lake supports a population of non-native Yellowstone cutthroat trout that can provide a harvest opportunity for anglers, however the current regulation permits only catch and release fishing. Clarifying open dates of fishing in and near the outlet of the lake will provide clarity for anglers using the fishery.

4. Increase the daily catch and possession limit for brook trout to 20 fish park-wide.

Justification: A “no limit” regulation on brook trout is biologically justifiable as they compete and hybridize with native fish species, but it is possible for anglers to confuse brook trout with juvenile bull trout. Twenty fish is more than the average angler is likely to catch, and would serve to limit any potential adverse impacts to bull trout populations should anglers incorrectly identify juvenile bull trout as brook trout. This change would improve consistency with State of Montana fishing regulations.

5. Modify language regarding the use of lead downriggers to read that a “cannon ball” style lead weight greater than 2 pounds may be used when attached to the downrigger cable.

Justification: To clarify the intent of the fishing regulation regarding the use of lead downrigger balls.

6. Catch and release fishing only on Midvale (Two Medicine drainage) and Wild (Hudson Bay drainage) creeks.

Justification: To protect remaining genetically pure populations of westslope cutthroat trout east of the Continental Divide in GNP.

See the proposed Fishing Cahnges to Park Fishing Regulations document on the following page for more info: http://www.nps.gov/glac/parkmgmt/planning.htm .

Saturday, December 12, 2009


There is cold, damn cold, hell has frozen over cold and then there is SE Idaho, which still isn't as cold as Stanley ID (consistently the coldest spot in the lower 48) or even West Yellowstone (a close second). The last week we have been seeing double digit negative temps at night and single digits above during the day. That is not counting wind chill.

So last Saturday Chad and I had the bright idea to head out bright and early to the SF. This was the first days of the cold snap and so the river was not iced hardly at all... contrast that with when I drove over Lorenzo bridge Thursday...... well after a week of sub 0 nights the river looked like a slushie.

The air temps must have been like 6-7 above but with the howling wind, it sounded like a jet taking off as it tore through the cottonwoods, it must have been -15. It was the coldest I have ever been while fishing even though I have fished with colder temps, just never with a bitter wind like that.

The good news is we caught fish. A good number of brown trout sitting deep in a hole. Didn't see any fish on redds. It was so cold that the ice that usually accumulates in the guides froze on the line faster then you could strip it in through the guides... hence not too many solidified guides. The fish weren't huge, but they were plentiful. They must have been a little sluggish from the cold as they didn't fight incredibly hard.

Chad took a nasty spill on the way back on the one chunk of ice on the river. The felt on my boots would freeze solid as I walked so I was skating over the rocks. Chad also broke his tip clearing out the ice. But still a good trip. I contemplated going out again today as it is warmer....... but decide against it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gary Loomis joins Temple Fork Outfitters

A while back the Drake was running a spoof notice of how the re-animated corpse of Ernest Hemmingway had joined the staff at TFO, and I read it and was amused as it at times appears that every industry "great" has joined the staff. TFO's list of notables in the fly fishing world seems to grow every time I turn around, running the gamut from Lefty Kreh, Bob Clouser, and Jim Teeny and now notable rod designer and builder Gary Loomis is going to have significant impact on a line of spinning rods that TFO is introducing.

As one who owns several TFO products I have been pleased with the value of the product, and their great customer service. I look forward to seeing Gary's input on their product lines.

(Researching this a little further... I guess this is somewhat old news, but it was new to me ;) )

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cutthroats on the South Fork

I have heard from two sources now, but have not seen an official report yet that the cutthroat numbers on the South Fork are down and that the rainbow numbers are up. Both sources have noted that recent electro surveys around Conant have resulted in an increased presence of rainbows in that stretch.

I fish the stretch from Irwin down to Spring Creek or Conant more than any other stretch of the river and in the last couple of years my non-empirical methods of just counting what I am catching had me catching cutthroats at a rate of about 7:1 to rainbows, and the number of rainbows I have been catching was decreasing yearly. My methods must have produced bad results as the electro shocking is showing otherwise (cutthroat have always been a bit easier to fool on a fly).

Anglers, if you fish the SF please keep all the rainbows you catch. Give them to friends, neighbors and colleagues, but don't just release them back into the river.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fate of the Teton River and it's wild cutthroat

As a native of SE Idaho with the Teton River some 20 minutes from my house I have watched with a mixture of fascination and disgust as every year local state legislators and water companies try to introduce legislation to rebuild the dam. The dam that failed 30 some odd years ago, catastrophically. Strangely enough they want to build a new dam in the same geologically fractured area as the original dam, which seems to me a bad idea. Especially as my house sits in an area that could possibly be inundated if the dam was to fail again.............. a secondary concern to what the dam would do to one of the best cutthroat fisheries in the nation.

There is a good article at The Cleanest Line on the Teton. Go check it out. And a good TU Video.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Whirling Disease White Paper

The University of Montana together with Trout Unlimited have published a Whirling Disease White Paper detailing research into the life cycle and management of whirling disease/ check it out at http://whirlingdisease.montana.edu/resources/publications.htm . Other resources are also available at the site.

Update: Not only are other resources available they are in the form of two free videos. One on whirling disease, "Black Tale" and the other on cutthroat trout: "Rising From the Shadows." The videos are free and they don't even charge for shipping. I should have mine shortly.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming

So steelhead season for me is mostly over. I will still spend some time tying steelhead flies and from time to time will post pictures of the flies, but for the most part I am returning to news on non anadromous fish.

From The Cutthroat's Spot

As cutthroats are one of my favorite fish, the namesake of the site, and the species I most often fish for I am going to try to cover more cutthroat specific topics the next little while. I spent most of the late summer and fall chasing native snake river and fine spotted cutthroat in SF tributaries. I am going to try to branch out to more species the coming year as I know of some creeks north of here full of west slope cutts.

Speaking of other cutthroat species, the Center for Biological Diversity has filed a lawsuit seeking protection for threatened Colorado Cutthroat. Their suit makes the argument that the colorado Cutthroat was not listed because it is doing fairly well in it's current range, but that the historic range was not considered (size of historic range) in the decision making process. The questions then becomes would federal management of this species have better results than what is currently being accomplished by state by state management (mostly in Utah and Colorado)?

Most of the discussion from anglers and conservation groups that I am aware of considers state management a better option, but feel free to disagree and to discuss.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Learning about steelhead flies.

As I get deeper into this steelhead obsession I am learning more about constructing steelhead flies. The internet is full of information, most of it pretty good about steelhead flies. One of the points most sites have made is that more steelhead are caught on a hook covered with a piece of yarn than just about anything else and so when it comes to flies steelhead are not too picky. Presentation and getting the fly in front of the fish are the most important factors.

(I am not the best macro photographer in the world. A tripod would likely help.)

But when it comes to flies for steelhead:

1: Use the right material for the current. Stiffer less likely to collapse materials for heavy current and softer materials for soft slow currents. So kip tail, spun hair, stiffer hackles and such for the fast water and marabou and bunny strips for the soft water.

2: Have the sharpest hook possible. I read a few bits on filing a hook with a mill file, watched a couple of online demos and broke out the file. Tapering the hook point so that is a long gradual transition makes a hook that will better penetrate a steelhead's mouth. Though modern hooks are fairly sharp increasing the transition length so that the transition is "smoother" with a file (at least in my no scientific tests) does make the hook penetrate easier. I will start carrying a file with me. This also allows for on stream hook repairs.

3: Hook eye. For steelhead on the swing and dead drifted it seem a straight eye is probably best. With the hooks I am using for my shank flies I am tying a type of "egg keeper" knot. Basically I run the line through the eye, make a loop and pinch it with my finger and then whip four - five time around the shank. This way the line come straight off of the shank and through the eye, inline with the shank and is not actually tied to the eye. When I run out of these hooks I will get some straight eye hooks. Another trick is to cut off the eye and tie in an eye with mono or somesuch.

Orange fast water fly.

4:Color. Many guides say fish any color that you like....... as long as it is purple. I am still playing with lots of colors, but am tying some purple. I also am playing with orange as it is supposed to work well. My tying supplies are somewhat limited, but white hackles and sharpies can create a range of colors. All the hackles on these flies have been colored with a sharpie.

Purple fly with stiff materials for heavy water.

I am tying more flies for heavier water. This is due to the fact that I find myself fishing the tops and bottoms of rapids more than anything when I am on the Salmon. "Resting water", due to the fact that the "holding" water has been shoulder to shoulder spinning guys...... not very easy to fish with the crowds on a fly rod, so I head for the uncrowded spots.

These flies are tied:
Orange fly has some flash behind the tail collar.
Dry hackle collar tail.
Floss body
Chenille Body
Light silver wire over body
Colored turkey flat under wing (the stiff hackles not the webby part)
Large dry fly hackle collar
Hen hackle topping wing
Hen hackle collar
The purple one also has some peacock herls in front of the hen hackle collar.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Last Steelhead trip of the Season?

I have decided that I really like tying steelhead flies. Even though I am not very quick at it. Each fly takes me over 20 minutes and so I do good to get 2-3 out a night.

Flies I tied for this trip.

I have been following Mike D's blog and he had a post about tying on waddington shanks. They looked pretty nifty but no one in my area carried them and they were pricey. A bit of internet searching revealed that some people tie shank flies by making their own shanks out of cotter pins. So I bought 100 each of 1/16 X 1" and 1/16 X 1.5" steel cotter pins. I built a "mandrel" out of a piece of wood and a finishing nail and made my own shanks. The flies turned out pretty nice. I attached the Gamakatsu hooks using some small yellow silicone tubing purchased at a small engine repair shop. I am thrifty. ;)

I am now contemplating making some Christmas ornaments out of steelhead flies put into clear acrylic balls.

Home made shanks and mandrel

I tied about a dozen flies in preparation of my last trip up to Salmon. I awoke at just before 5:00 am and drove up. The weather has turned colder and water temps have dropped about 10 degrees or there abouts. Now I am not a steelhead expert but I think the cooler water equates into less active fish. I fished for about 8 hours and had one on for a few seconds but it was slower than my last rip where I had 3 on and I didn't even catch a sucker fish. The skunk is on me. As the temps continue to drop I think I am done till spring (steelheading that is, I will still be out on the river casting midges and nymphs on the SF)....... Unless some one can convince me otherwise.

Two shank flies on the 1.5" shanks

Another perspective

Still the country up there is gorgeous and I enjoyed the trip. I will head up again (hopefully somewhere between Challis and Stanley) when the ice starts to melt.

Steelhead Country

I switched form my 9' 8wt Rivendell rod to a 10' 8wt G Loomis glx and have liked the change. But after watching the guys with spey rods roll out 80 foot roll casts where I have to work hard for 30 feet, well I am contemplating selling all of my single hand overhead 8wt gear and getting an Echo 7 or 8wt spey set up. On the Salmon where you are often fishing with the bank right behind you back casting is impossible a majority of the time and roll casting becomes key. I was making 40-50 foot casts with back casting in a couple of spots but casting 2 heavy tungsten bead flies on my 8wt seems harder than casting a pair of much smaller nymphs on my 5wt or even a set of big dries like a salmon fly and a golden stone on my 5wt. I was using a fairly long leader to allow the flies to get some depth and dead drifting them nymph style. I don't know if the casting difficulties were my own lack of experience with the 8wt, the way the leader was constructed or what exactly but I can not cast as far with the 8wt as I can with my 5wt. Between that and the omnipresent bank at my back I am really starting to lean towards purchasing a spey outfit.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Steelheading and other things

Mid to end of October saw me out fishing the SF above Lorenzo bridge. There were some tremendous BWO hatches in the afternoon and the fish were looking up. Tons of fish for both outings but nothing huge. Lots of medium cutts with some twink browns thrown into the mix. Nice and easy access. 2 minute walk after a 5 minute drive from my house.

Went once with Jon and once with Chad. If you look close at Jon you can see him talking on his cell phone while fishing. He is never without that phone ;)

Took a quick jaunt up to Salmon the weekend before Halloween and chased some chrome. Weather was nice only rained towards the end of the day (good conditions for steelheading). The number of returning steelhead this year is huge. A new 30 year record. Needless to say the fish are back in sufficient numbers that even a complete newb like me can catch a fish. This first trip I fished a couple of miles downstream of Salmon.

These trips are lightining trips. Get up at 0 dark 30 in the morning and drive the 2.5 hours to Salmon and maybe another hour or more downstream. fish like a berzerker for 8 hours with breaks only to fuel and pee. Drive home when it is too dark to see. Watch for deer on the drive home as that stretch of hi-way between Salmon and Gilmore is full of the darn road hazards. I love the colors of the Lemhi range as the sun first lights up the valley. Wild, wild country that makes me think of the rugged men and women it took to homestead that country 130 years or so ago. Also interesting to think that the populations of places like Gilmore and Leadore were once much greater than they are now,

I fished a likely drift in the morning with no one else in it. I worked it from top to bottom, casting a few times and then taking two steps down, swinging wet flies on a sinking line. After fishing the run I got out and walked the bak back to the top to try again. As I did a drift boat with a guy, his father and father's buddy came drifting through. We bantered a bit as they went by, I expressing that I was going to be bummed if they caught fish out of the run that had produced nothing for me. They picked up 4 nice fish. ;) With a strengthened resolve I again fished the drift..... and caught a large bronze sucker fish.

River a bit downstream from salmon

Moved downstream and fished the crook of a riffle. "Resting water" instead of traditional holding water. Here I did manage to hook and land a nice steelhead. Fished for about 10 hours for 1 steelhead and 1 sucker. Still not bad for a newb steelheader on a fly rod.

Confluence of Main and MF Salmon

Picking up the sinking line with the 9' 8wt was tough so when I saw a 10' 8wt G Loomis GLX for sale used at a decent price I picked it up. Went again last weekend with Jacob. this time we drove way down all the way past the MF confluence, almost to Corn Creek as the numbers being reported by IF&G were indicating that Corn Creek and below was producing the best. The river was lined with RVs, trucks and fishermen. Being one of the few guys using a fly rod in this stretch I again headed to a less traditional spot. A slow resting pool right on top of a rapid. I had three hookups in a short period and managed to land one. A nice hen of about 25 inches. I let Jacob fish the hole after that, and then we moved up and tried a couple of more locations.

The 10" rod does make a bit of difference and I am now contemplating a 15' or so spey rod. Maybe for next year. I managed to pick up a sucker fish again so my record for the two outings is a sucker fish and a steelhead per trip. I saw the guys using tackle pick up a lot of fish. They are able to cover more water than I am, but the spey rodders seem to be able to cover the same amount of water.

I am having fun steelheading and am tying up more flies. The fish from this last trip were all on my own creations. Will try 1 -2 more time depending on the weather and kitchen passes. Hopefully as I get better at this my ratio of steelhead to sucker fish will improve.

Hard to tell, but this is a 25" fish

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Couple of More Steelhead Ties

One inspired by a pattern from Mike's Trout Tripper site. Both are on size 4 heavy wire hooks. I have very little actual steelhead fly material; floss, wire, tinsel. etc. so these flies are improvised. Tied with 6/0 thread and holographic flash + marabou and a bead.

Will be up on the Salmon soon and will blog this upcoming and the past trip after I get back.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Steelhead Fly

Went up up past Salmon ID, on the Salmon river last week chasing chrome. Picked up a sucker and a steelhead of about 26 inches. So I have the bug.

I have been out on a few other outings in the last month and will blog them a bit later. But now for your viewing pleasure.... my first attempt at steelhead flies.

The proportions may be a bit off, and on the next one I will trim the front marabou back a bit so the rear color is a little more prominent. This fly is essentially hot orange marabou over hot pink marabou, some silver and blue flash with a bit of copper wrapped down the shank and a tungsten cone head to sink it a little faster. So my first big salmon/steelhead style fly is a fairly simple one.

One day I hope to be able to tie some of the georgeous steelflies you see in the books and magazines. ;)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

All Good Things

The old saying goes "That all Good things Must Come to an End" and so.....

It was a Tuesday afternoon, the weather pushing 80 degrees but the high forecast for the morrow.... 40 something. With..... snow. Did I mention snow?

I had been in the basement coding all morning when I got a serious case of the "I got to get out and toss hoppers before they are gone" blues. Why am I the only one afflicted by that malady?

So bout 2ish I dressed L, packed up the gear, made sure I had some ponchos and emergency space blankets in the fishing pack and headed out with L in tow. We headed up to a creek somewhere between "No Tellum" and "Willowy" creeks.

Now L loves to fish, so he is always willing to tag along with dad. And it is always easier to get a kitchen pass when I take him along. Though he does get mad when I toss the fish back. In his mind fish are for catching, then eating. I'll have to work on his catch and release ethic ;) .

This creek has about as much water as "No Tellum" but in its lower stretches is very turbulent. The trail head starts in a narrow canyon where the water tumbles and drops off falls and rocks. Classic pool and drop structure with fish hiding behind and in front of the rocks. It opens up a bit higher on, but I must say this is the most scenic of the local feeder creeks. At least to my eyes.

The flora was putting on a show. The colors were gorgeous. L had to pick a few maple leaves to take home to mom. He studied rocks and crag, pointed up various tracks ranging from deer to bicycle and had a great time. He also got a spinning light up toy at the convenience store on the way out.... which I couldn't get him to put down so it shows up in the majority of his shots.

The fish are nice sized cutthroats. We did pretty good till the winds of the oncoming cold front kicked up, knocking every leaf in the valley into the river. I think the fish will hit a few yellow cream colored leafs thinking they are hopper and then give up hunkering on the bottom.

L landed a few nice cutts. Big fish was in the 16 inch range. He had fun tossing rocks, picking weed, and finding sticks, punctuated at time with casting and occasionally catching a fish.

I really liked the creek and will have to hit it again, but will most likely be next year. We have had at least 2-3 snow skiffs now and it is sticking at the elevation of the creeks. High temps for the last week have been below 50 and nights have all been below freezing. Think any hoppers are left?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Tale of Two Creeks Part 4: Return to "No Tellum" Creek

The second to last week of September found me up on "No Tellum" Creek again. I left the house a bit earlier determined to hike up at least past the old guard station cabin before wetting a line. The weather had definitely cooled some in the evenings as the hills were full of color (this is before the cold front we are experiencing now which produced some snow in the high country. Think there are any hopper after a week of sub freezing temps?).

The parking lot was as full as I have ever seen it with 5 horse trailers parked helter skelter. The outfitters must be setting up camps for the oncoming hunting season. And though the trail head was packed... I didn't see any other anglers on the creek. The hike up saw multitudes of hoppers, some quite suicidal jumping pell mell into the creek. A hopper in this creek is not long for the world. The fish are watching..... waiting for an unfortunate grass hopper to be their next big meal.

I hiked up past the guard station and fished the creek up to the confluence with the North Fork of the creek. The fishing was quite good with the familiar hopper and smaller terrestrial combo being a success. This time the fish were more on the larger hopper than the smaller grumpies.

The fish in this stretch were larger than what I had experienced a couple of weeks earlier averaging 14-15 inches with a fair number of twinks, but the larger fish being more common. There was some beautiful terrain. I especially liked a stretch where the whole creek narrowed through a tight bit of canyon. Lots of good fish in that stretch inhabiting the deeper pools. I also thought that the narrows would be a good place to come with a gold pan at some point.

I fished for a number of hours catching at an incredible rate. As dusk started to approach I knew that I should probably head out before dark. Just belwo where the North Fork came in I noticed a tightly balled pod of fish sitting deep in a hole. Some of decent size. I switched to a nymph and tossed the nymph at them for about 20 minutes but didn't get any takes, nor would they rise to a dry fly. I am uncertain but can only guess that they were whitefish. I have never caught a whitefish out this creek, but it wouldn't entirely surpise me to find some pods of them in its environs.

Hiking out I saw a back packer on the "high" trail about a quarter of a mile down stream of me. By sticking to the "low" road and its various fords I was able to cut quite a distance out of the trek and beat him back to the trail head.

These creeks are an amazing resource for anglers. Especially on the fly. In the late summer and early fall the appearance of hoppers seems to make them ravenous. It is most likely the best feeding season for the resident fish of these creeks.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Tale of Two Creeks Part 3: Willowy Creek

View down the canyon from the trail head parking lot

No "Willowy Creek" is not the actual name of the creek so if you run out to Willow Creek (another local creek) you may be disappointed. Names have been changed to protect the innocent ie to keep undue pressure off of some great creeks.

I initially was going to fish "No Tellum" Creek on this afternoon in Mid September but as I left the house later than I really wanted to, I realized that the drive and hike associated with "No Tellum" Creek would leave me with very little actual time on the water. So I decided to hit another creek that I knew about in the area that would be a 1/2 hour shorter drive, giving me an additional hour on the water. This was in some ways a scouting trip on a water that I have had on my radar for the last couple of years.

Arriving at the trail head I found no other vehicles. I hopped the fence and headed over to the creek. The creek is smaller in volume than "No Tellum" creek, runs a bit colder, and has numerous very large beaver dams which hold some decent fish. The creek is braided and locked in on both sides with thick willows. As the creek is very sinuous, there is realy no way to stand in the middle and cast up the creek as I can in some of the other local creeks. Just no room for back casts. The only place to get a longer cast is across some of the 180 degree bends of the creek. Standing in one side of the bend and casting across the banks into the far side.

After pushing through the willows and arriving up the creek I hiked up a few yards and found a beautiful drop hole where two braids of the creek came together. I must of had 10 different fish hit my flies in this first hole and I managed to land two nice cutts. This was the easiest hole of the day with an unobstructed roll cast and no snarls.

first hole I hit

After playing out the first pool I snuck up the larger of the channels casting into each deep hole. The casts were tricky and most likely spots had branches or root balls blocking the cast. I picked up the pig of the day, a 16-17 inch cutthroat out of a hole no bigger than 2x3 feet across and probably 2 feet deep.

The fishing continued to be productive as I worked my way up the creek. The fish tended to be larger than the fish from my previous outing on "No Tellum" creek, with the average fish in the 14-15 inch range and fewer twinkies.

The hot flies for the day were again the Stone Flopper as a hopper with the unsinkabeetle tied off the bend of the hopper's hook.

After working the creek up to the first major trail crossing, I hiked down to my car and drove down about 1/2 mile to a primitive camping area. The fishing was slower in this lower stretch but I still managed to catch a few. The elevation for this creek is lower than "No Tellum" and the vegetation has a more desert feel. More junipers and sage in the immediate vicinity with lots of pine and fir higher up on the North facing slopes.

There is a cutthroat hidden in this picture. Can you see it? ;)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Tale of Two Creeks Part 2: No Tellum Creek

Jon and I hit "No Tellum" creek one afternoon in early September. We fished from the parking lot up to the cabin. The parking lot was empty except for one horse trailer with a group of guys gearing up for a horse packing trip. The hoppers were everywhere and the fish were keyed on them. This trip I actually did better on the unsinkabeetle than the hoppers. The fished seemed to like the smaller terrestrial, but hit anything with legs. They really responded to the cream belly and brown backed beetle, which I think they viewed as one of the smaller hoppers.

Jon and I split up with him hiking quite a ways up above me. He forgot to bring footwear that he could immerse, so I ended fishing a bit more than he did. Which is ok, he seems to enjoy the scenery as much as anything.

There is a little spring at the cabin and a nice green meadow with a lot of shade. I keep threatening to hike the wife and boys into the meadow for a 2-3 day pack trip. I may have to wait a couple of years yet as I can't imagine packing little J (who is a right regular butterball at 1 year and around 26 lbs) and a 60 pound pack. I have tossed L on my shoulders and hit the creek a couple of times. He is approaching the point where packing him on my shoulders will no longer be an option. We hit Big Elk Creek over Labor Day and he proved that he can hike when he wants to, but will default to "daddy put me on your shoulders" whenever he deems it convenient.

Last year when we fished the same stretch I got a number of exceptionally large cutthroat for a creek this size with a couple of specimens exceeding 17 inches and one 19 inch whopper. This time nothing quite so large, though I did spook a couple of very large fish from a couple of the deep holes. The little twinkies were all over the flies. I stopped counting fish at 30..... and that was only after about an hour of a 5 hour outing. Every other cast was a strike and about every 4th cast a hookup. The large fish for this outing were in the 13-14 inch range.

Hopper fishing small creeks in the fall is truly one of my favorite times of year. Oh I must admit to some hog hunting on a couple of secret waters during runs of big fish, but the explosive takes of wild cutthroats on terrestrial in a small creek really pleases.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Tale of Two Creeks. Part 1

Two creeks on opposites sides of the drainage, about 15 miles apart as the crow flies. One a familiar haunt, the other scouting new water.

The first flowing from the west to the east, through a broad valley. Thick pine and fir on the north facing slopes creating a deep black forest. Cottonwood and willow in the valley floor, and juniper on the south facing slopes.

The second smaller and braided. Locked in on either side with thick willows. A 15 foot cast on this creek was long. Flowing to the west through a tighter valley, colder water and the toughest casting conditions I have faced in years. Technical casts to fish holding in deep pockets, hidden below branch, root and snarl. Small pockets around every bend, behind every drop and under every snarled mess of limbs.

Both replete with native snake river and yellowstone cutthroat. Cutthroat that smash a hopper at times, and at other times follow it for a while and slowly, agonizingly slowly try to sip it in. Causing a twitchy fisherman to pull the terrestrials out of hungry mouths.

These fish are not too wary, but will usually spook after the a second take. A fish rising for a third drift is rare. They love hoppers and beetles. I can't say which took more fish, the stone flopper or the unsinkabeetles (Plural as I lost a few, some to trees others to fish). But after loosing my last unsinkabeetle the grumpy frumpy (in a couple 3 flavors) also pierced its share of lips.

This is what happens to a hopper that has been nibbled by countless fish (many much too small to actually ingest the fly, but they try anyway) and eaten by over 3 dozen cutts of good size. Cutthroat are toothy critters.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Completing the Circle

My outings follow certain patterns every year mandated by hatches and my preferences in fishing. I find myself at the same haunts at roughly the same time of year.I have come full circle back to some of the waters of my original blog post from last year. I have been on the water a bit, and between family, work and fishing.... I have put off blogging and so now will try to catch up with my outings over the last 2.5 months. This will be incremental starting with:


Early July found me hitting no tellum creek a couple of times. Rumor has it that some big creeks move up into the creek in late June. this year as the creek was blown out, big and brown. I didn't find many cutts but did land a 7 lb. sucker fish on a nymph, in a deep hole right above the reservoir. I took my 3.5 year old on a couple of these outings. Here are some pics from early July to no tellum creek.

View on the drive in

little L taking in the view. The creek was blown out but we had a couple of bites

As the creek was blown out and not much happening by way of fishing, I took some scenery shots of the wild flowers.

Shortly after I took a trip up to Pine Creek, It was much lower and clearer than no tellum creek and will most likely be the creek I hit in late spring. I didn't take any pictures of the trip but highlights include having two nice cutts (15 inch range which is big for this creek) hit my flies at the same time..... and whiffing them both. The fishing was fast and furious on dry flies.

Once summer hits SE Idaho full swing, I like to spend as much time on the SF as possible. Nothing beats big fish smacking salmon flies. Fish willing to move 10 feet from their lie. Then as the hatches die off and the hoppers come on I spend time in the creeks.

Chad and I took a trip into the lower canyon stretch shortly after the 4th of July. The BOR ran the river strangely this year. They let hardly any water out during April and May and in late June realizing that they were not going to have enough room for the upstream run off blew the river out at over 20K for weeks. The salmon fly hatch was very late this year, and not very thick. Despite the lack of adult salmon flies the fish still were on them..... the fishing was still hot in the riffles and Robert's O2 stonefly caught tons of fish!

Chad stalking fish in the riffle. He must of caught 2 dozen whities before figuring out the trick for trout ;)

SF at 20K+ cfs.


River Runs Through It moment

About a week and 1/2 later as the hatches on the upper river heated up Jon, his son and I took a trip down the upper river above fall creek. We met up with Chad later in the day. The fishing was again hot and I encountered another one of my famous photo blunders. The dead battery. Highlight of the trip was catching a 19 inch cutthroat on the 6' 3wt setup I had purchased for my son's use. The fight was a hoot. The fly of the day was again the O2 salmon fly. Something about that pattern moves fish. I was well over 20 fish with the majority on the O2 and a few on pmds. I just love the way cutthroat attack a salmon fly.

I took a couple of week hiatus for family vacations and what not (the which can be seen on my family blog) and then in mid July grandpa wanted to take the grandkids fishing. So we loaded up a passel of kids and headed to Pebble Creek. L and I quickly got into fish (hucking worms on the end of his spiderman rod, though we did pack his 3 wt), but nobody else seemed to have the nack/patience/ability for catching them. It wasn't that hard...... but I digress. So grandpa took the kids to a fish pond in Lava. ;(

L in Pebble Creek having a great time.

Pebble Creek Rainbow. Planter courtesy of IF&G

I spent the next couple of weeks doing honey do's and so that wraps up July. I should have spent more time on the SF as everything that I heard was positive..... oh well.

August didn't see me on the river as much as I would have liked. Family responsibilities saw me working around the house with my spare time instead of fishing.

About mid month I started to get a little stir crazy. So when Saturday rolled around I strapped J into the chest pack, took L firmly in tow and we fished a little hole full of twinks at twin bridges. As time to leave rolled around I noticed a cow moose and calf had wondered down between ourselves and our car. With a baby in the chest pack and a 3.5 year old in hand I wasn't quite sure what I would have done if the cow moose had decided to get ornery with us.......... luckily they mozied on up the river after a bit.

Mother moose and calf between us and the car.

Say hi to the neighbors!

I don't know what it is but I have had more moose encounters this year including one on the SF where the only thing between me and a young bull was about 20 feet of brush and the drift boat. I don't know how I thought the drift boat was going to protect me, but I was adamant about keeping it between myself and the moose. I had thought the sounds in the brush I had been hearing were most likely a moose..... This was a trip shortly after the outing with the kids. I hit another dead battery day. I have to get better about checking my photography equipment.

The SF fished well that day, big pmd hatch late in the afternoon rewarded Chad and I with some good fish, including a 22 inch cutt for me on a dry fly. Chad has a picture. If I get the shot from him I will post it. Right at dusk one of the thickest pmd hatches I have ever seen exploded from the water and the fish were boiling in the riffles.

At the end of the month, I finally finished swapping the clutch out on my Rodeo so I stuffed the family into the wagon and we headed for granite creek. We arrived in the afternoon and spent the next few hours, after setting up the tent, relaxing in the big hot spring fed pool.

Sunday morning L, J and I got up while mom slept and we snapped some shots of the scenery then went for a hike. When J went back down for his mid-morning nap L and I fished the creek by the camp ground. All I can say is that creek is frigid! I soon lost feeling in my feet.

As one of my goals as a father is to pass my love of all things outdoors on to my children I think L and J have the bug. L has fished with me quite a bit since the time he was about 4 months old. Accompanying me in the chest pack. J hasn't been out as much with me, but I'll fix that. L has loves to fish, though he doesn't understand why I let so many fish go. He often describes fish as "yummy".