Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Black Canyon of the Bear

I wish I could post some pictures of this area, as it is rather scenic, and of the fish..... but I can't. It wasn't until we pulled into the power plant parking lot that I remembered that my camera was still sitting on top of the refrigerator (out of my 3 year old's reach), at home 2 hours away, not doing me one lick of good.

The day started out cold. It was 5 degrees when we left Rigby, but the weather forecast called for temps around 40 both up around Mackay and down around Grace. John and I debated about where to go and decided upon the Canyon as he had never been there before. It turned out to be an OK decision, unless someone sends me a report about how the Big Lost was off the hook. Then I will be full of regrets.

It had warmed up substantially by the time we reached the river access. We geared up and hit the river. In the second hole I tried a got two big slashes at my strike indicator, but nothing on my nymphs, so I tied on a frumpy grumpy. It produced a couple of looks in the next hole but no strikes.

Anyone who has fished this stretch knows how this river fishes hole by hole, as it is series of ledge drops with deep holes interspersed between the drops. Wading is generally easy at low flows but can be hazardous to the inattentive as there are numerous small deep pits perfect for a one legger.

The next hour really did nothing for us as we worked our way up the river, switching flies often. Both nymphs and dries. Until the midge hatch really started to come off at around 1 pm. The hatch was thick and the bugs were all over the surface and the fish finally started to pay attention. John must have burned the lips of a pair of risers 10 times each. I watched him for a bit then wondered about 50 yards upstream where I found a seam with at least 4 fish actively feeding.

I had a couple of missed hook ups on dries (my own fault as I was to fast on the hookset), and then switched to an unweighted chironomid nymph fished just a few inches under the surface, without an indicator. As the water was very clear I could watch the fish to see when they were striking the nymph. I picked up 3 nice rainbows out of the hole by the time John wondered up. He had given up in frustration after repeatedly burning fish lips on a dry fly. I missed a couple of more on the nymph and then we moved up.

We found a very large spring dumping into the river and peering deep into the depths I saw some truly enormous fish holding down deep. I switched to a red copper john and added some weight. John continued to search around and I fished these denizens of the deep. I quickly landed a few nice size rainbows, but none of the monsters that I saw in the depths. They were colored differently than the rainbows and truly were enormous so I had no real clue as to what they were until I hooked one. Wanting one of the big bruisers I switched over to a big glue egg cluster with a single egg dropper and a lot of weight above the cluster.

Turned out to be a pod of monster carp. Rocky Mountain Golden Bones in the Bear river..... who knew? I hooked and landed one of them in the 24-25 inch range, probably about 4 lbs. When he hooked up, I still not knowing what he was started calling for John who had disappeared from view. The carp tore line off my reel like a torpedo. Quite the fight on a 5 wt. John finally heard my calls and thinking that I was drowning or dying or something ran back to where I was only to see me with major bendo fighting a big dark shape. It wasn't until we netted it that we saw that it was a carp. And it was one of the littler carps in the pod.

My fighting with one of their brethren spooked the rest out of the hole. I did hook up briefly with one more decent rainbow who managed to spit the hook.

I have decided that when fishing with John, I fish and he sight sees. Or better, he fishes for a bit, gets bored if the action is not hot and so switches from fishing to viewing mode. Though he noted that he would have fished more but his toes were cold.

When we returned to the car the thermometer indicated 35 degrees. Not bad for a February in SE Idaho. Next time I go out I think I will hit NoTellum spring creek where last year in February I landed a 27" rainbow on a size 20 midge.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a bit of fun in the Canyon. I've never fished Black Canyon, but I need to in the winter for my winter fishing fix - Cache Valley just doesn't produce much winter fishing.

Where's that carp pic? Do I remember you mentioning you were going to start taking the camera more?

-scott c

jabberwock said...

Didn't you see the initial part of the story where I talk about forgetting the camera and leaving it on top of the fridge......?

Anonymous said...

I was just razzing you a bit! Forgot to put the dagblasted smiley though. ;-) There we go.