Sunday, March 15, 2009


Lost River Range

I must admit I count fish. When I am planted in the middle of a small gin clear, alpine river, casting tiny 18 and smaller bwo patterns over the heads of a myriad of fair sized rainbows, I tend to keep track of numbers. I am not sure why, it really shouldn't be all that important, but it does help me to quantify the day. As my fishing ooportunitues are not as numerous as I would like (but probably more numerous than my wife would like :) ) I try to maximize my outings, and counting does help to quantify the day. I count when I catch 4 in 5 drifts or when I pick up 9 fish from the same run in under 40 minutes. When I am having a day to rival some of my good days of the SF during the mega hatch in July, I pay attention.

Though my eyes are seemingly going out because I have to tie a bigger size 14 parachute bwo on with the small fly as a dropper so I can use the bigger fly to direct my poor eyes to the smaller fly, the fly that the fish are actually intersted in.

Fishing in the shadow of the tallest mountains in the state is always a treat. I wrote Scott (of Cutthroat Stalker fame) on Monday and had talked to another buddy Daryl about hitting the Big Lost on Friday. Every day of the 10 days (farthest out weather forecast) leading into the trip I checked the forecast for Mackay. And all the forecast stated hi 30s to lo 40s and sunny. I thought that a bluebird day of such would surely bring the midges and bwos to the surface and hopefully make the trout take note.

Crag above the river

Daryl and I drove in from Idaho Falls and Scott from Logan. we met up with him in Arco, The morning started out well on midges, with me catching a few on a red zebra and then a black zebra. I was starting to approach double digits on nymphs when I noticed a pair of bwos on my chest pack. The hatch was on.

I wondered back down river looking for Scott and Daryl. Scott and I had worked our way up stream for about 1/4 mile with me nymphing and he casting dries to risers, but he had disappeared a while earlier and I knew Daryl was down on the slick water close to the campground.

I found Scott most of the way back to the campground casting dries at a pod of risers and we made a few more attempts before heading back to the car to find Daryl nd hit a bite to eat.

Daryl was in the slick slow water casting to the 100s of risers. There were fish rising everywhere in the slick water. Some looked absolutely huge down in the depths. The only difficulty in slick stuff, is despite the 100s of riser, they have all day to inspect a fly and decide if it looks right. A dozen or more refusals found me upstream a bit where there was a little more chop, and finally a fish.

The rainbows in the Big Lost are amazing. They tend to average 15-17 inches with a few outliers on either end and are brilliantly colored. Deep green backs, bright magenta stripes, lots of spots and they are currently staging for the spawn and so are turning deep spawning red and orange.

They are hard fighting and like to leap. Daryl brought a 2 weight and was a little under-gunned. Every fish felt like a king salmon on his 2 weight.

Scott moved on downstream, while Daryl and I ate a leisurely lunch. After eating I headed downstream and found Scott casting to a pod of risers on the downside of a big riffle. He had just released a big bow of over 20 inches and was using stealth tactics to fool the fish.

Scott working risers below a riffle

I moved down about 50 yards below him where I saw a pod of risers. I hooked up with a couple, only to loose them both when the hole went cold. I must of spooked them and put them down.

I moved down another 50 yards and proceeded to slay them on the small bwo. the bugs were every where and the fish were rising. The hatch lasted about 2 hours, and I really only caught the beginning and end of it, having broken for lunch in mid hatch.

The fish continued to rise after the hatch cooled and then after a while, no more risers. So I switched back to nymphs. I followed Scott downstream around a couple of bends and tied into one more large fish that promptly spit the hook.

Reviewing the day.... good company, great finish and great scenery. What more could one ask for?

I did take some pictures of Scott fishing and of the scenery, but I like to fish too much to really take pictures of catching them. As I plan on heading back next week, I will try to get some more trout shots.


Big Hoss said...

I can't sit still reading about BWO hatches. I can't wait to get out on the river and hit a BWO hatch. Great post. I know you probably don't want to share your secret spots but i would love to know where you guys were fishing. email me if you feel like you can trust me with your spots. haha

mike doughty said...

i fished the blg lost a couple years back. had nothing to do on a 3 day weekend so drove up by myself. the 2 days i fished were 1 and 3 degrees. miserable! stayed in mackay and caught plentyof smaller fish. nice little river