I've been hearing for some time about the fantastic fishing up in the lava rocks of Idaho, but I just haven't had the time to get up there and see for myself. Finally, the perfect opportunity arose, my wife was going out of town through Saturday. Well, that old skag Mother Nature had other plans, and she decided it was going to be snowy and miserable instead. What was I to do? Why skip out on work early and go Friday. I left Logan and headed north, making a couple of stops for a five dollar foot long, some Mt Dew and an Idaho license. $98.25 later, I was headed down toward the canyon. I tied and bundled up, and hiked down to the river. There were excellent looking runs everywhere, I was pretty excited. I decided to start with the Turks/Carrot's Ear combo that has proven so deadly lately. First cast was a nice little 12" rainbow. I caught 3 more and missed another in the next 10 minutes. One even took the Turk's. I was really thrilled, I thought it was going to be an amazing day, and then the cursed four letter bane of fly fishermen everywhere showed up. My casts were landing with wild and reckless abandon, my drifts were anything but perfect. I shambled over to an especially nice looking run and spotted a decent trout feeding. I placed several casts, and finally had a good drift, I saw the trout move toward my offering, and then the wind yanked my line a foot or so forward. I flailed away some more, and decided to change my dropper to a grey scud. The wind died just long enough for me to finally hook this little bugger.
He went airborne several times and then darted into a small waterfall bending my rod like a trout twice his size. I snapped a pic and released him. I turned around and saw a young man wave at me. I waved backed, and then realized it was a fish and game officer. I trudged back across the stream to show him my license. He told me he'd talked to another fisherman a moment before that had been scoring some respectable fish to 17" on a small Copper John. I really hate fishing such small flies, but then I realized that I could use more flies up north than I can in Utah. So I slapped a size 20 midge larva below the Carrot's Ear and began trying to fish again. I think the officer cursed me as things went pretty dead. The wind was howling now, turning my springish day into a frigid and frustrating experience. After a good half hour of nothing, I spotted another nice trout feeding. My Turk's darted under, and I set the hook. It flipped the tail at me and was gone. I remembered I really need to be gentle with these dinky little hooks. I fished on in frustration, having to retie several times because of wind knots and wind caused tangles. I was moving toward the next hole, when suddenly I found myself up to my crotch in silty sludge. People had told me to wade carefully here because of sudden drop offs, unfortunately they failed to inform me that you also need to test every single spot before putting your foot down because it might not be solid. I struggled my way out, only to discover all my flies had been sucked down stream and were now enveloped in a pound or two of worm riddled vegetation (if I ever come back here, I'm bringing some orange San Juan Worms). I picked away at the mess, eventually deciding to retie once again. I also decided to go to a straight nymphing rig with an indicator. Certainly not my favorite way to fish, but I figured it would fair better against the wind than the Turk's. I also rummaged through my box and found a size 20 Copper John. I cast out my new rig and right away I had a fish on. I caught a couple more from the run, and then it dropped off again. I worked my way up to the bridge and scored a couple of spirited little bows below and above it. I kept hopping from rock to rock, avoiding anything that might give out beneath me, hitting some very pretty water, with nothing to show for it. I was pretty much ready to go home, but then the wind died, and I decided that ending on 13 fish would be bad luck anyway. I moved ahead and found a perfect shelf. My indicator reached the end of the run and I lifted up for another cast, but to my surprise there was a heavy throbbing weight at the end of the line and a big tail flapped out of the water at me. And then he was gone. A few casts later it happened again. And again. I threshed the water for a few more minutes then decided I was ready to go, bad luck or not. It was going to be dark soon, and I didn't want to drive the deer infested route home in the dark. It was a good decision. Just outside of the parking lot I encountered at least 30 deer that of course ran in front of my car. I ran into several herds along the way, but thanks to the sunlight I was able to see them well in advance. I'm undecided if I will ever return. I think the river has some great potential, and those bows put up some great fights, but it's further away than I usually go. I could go chase wipers, smallies and walleye at Willard in the same amount of time. I am curious to see what might happen if I returned under better conditions with more midges and worm imitations though. Time will tell I suppose.
Final Tally: 13 rainbows
Year Tally: 44 fish