The Owyhee River

Not all of my posts will be about fishing but it could end up being a majority. I made my first fly fishing trip to the Owyhee River today. It is such a different river to fish than anything I am used too. The fish seem to hold in areas that I would have never expected. I can't say the action was hot. I caught a fat 20" Brown in the first hour on the river but after that could only get the occasional follow. No other takers. I found out I have a lot too learn though as there were fish feeding on the surface most of the day. After throwing the whole fly box at them without success I was left scratching my head. Maybe I need a few more times on the water to figure out these finicky fish.

Here are a couple more pictures from the river:


This Big One Didn't Get Away...

Well it happened 2 1/2 days ago but I am still smiling today because of my latest fishing trip. The place is the South fork of the Snake River about 45 minutes East of Idaho Falls. There is a stretch of river there known as "The Canyon." It is a good 12 hour float depending on the time of year in a drift boat from the put in at Conant to the take out we use at Byington. The river which follows a highway for much of its path winds lazily out and away from that road through a steep walled canyon lined with majestic Cottonwoods and filled with wildlife. I have seen Bald Eagles, Beavers, Osprey, Deer, Moose, and Turkeys now on the 4 floats I have taken down the canyon. It is truly an experience just for the peaceful float but when you add in the fact that the river is loaded with hungry Cutthroat, Rainbow, and Brown Trout it becomes a must do item each year despite the fact that it is a 6 hour drive each way for me. This year the trip was epic, yielding the most fish, and the largest average size fish, and producing my own personal best trout.

South Fork Sunrise

The trip got off to an outstanding start when we arrived at the put in at 7:00am and saw the parking lot was empty. It is always a welcome bonus to have the canyon virtually to yourself. We launched the old 16' Alumaweld and headed for the opposite bank. We received another boost to our outlook for this trip when on my third cast of the day I flipped my fly in against a stump whose roots were exposed to the river due to some erosion and felt the jolt as a colorful 17 inch brown sucked down the streamer I was using.

South fork Brown

About 100 yards downstream I got a real wake up call as too what kind of quality fish dwell in this river. As I threw my white Zonker streamer up against some rocks along the bank I watched my line drift with the current and suddenly just stop midstream. It was running deep there so I knew something had taken my fly. I set the hook and felt no give, just a solid tug back. Then as quickly as it started it ended when whatever I hooked into decided it was out of there. My line took off upstream at mach 10. I could not react in time to loosen my drag and the 3x fluorocarbon tippet (about 8 pound test) snapped at the eye of the fly. Two seconds was all that one lasted but I would like to see the fish that took that fly. After loosing that fly though the rest of the day was a one fly affair for me. I tied on a tan and brown Bead Head Zonker and never had to switch.

The Fly of the Day

We caught nice cutthroat, rainbow, cutbows and browns with little effort all morning. Kelly landed a big 21 inch brown but we must have caught 5 more between us that were pushing the 20 inch mark.

Here are a couple more shots of the scenery in the canyon:

Then about 3 in the afternoon we were in the middle of a little lull in the action. Kelly had been on the oars and I had been fishing for about a half hour and I hadn't even had a follow. I was getting a little weary and actually was just about to suggest we switch and I row for a while. Then along a rock wall that the river cut into making some real deep protected pockets for fish to hang in I threw the streamer right up against the wall. As I stripped it in trying my best to mimic a wounded bait fish making a fast yet sporadic get away, I saw a flash of yellow as a big brown came out of hiding to ambush the hapless little zonker. As soon as I saw the flash I knew this was a fish and a half. The next 10 minutes would prove that to be true as the big hook jawed male pulled trying to get into any number of hazards near his lair. We were in moderately fast current with a large boulder with driftwood caught up on it downstream and some ugly rocks against the bank so Kelly had to row furiously upstream to hold us in the pocket we were in. He was constantly rowing, I was fighting this monster, and we are both trying to figure out how we would be able to get him in the net. Soon my forearm was cramping up as this fish made run after run and I had to put a little more pressure on him than I wanted to keep him out of those rocks and driftwood piles. We had him in the net twice only to have him escape and go on another run. Finally on the third try Kelly scooped him up and I had my biggest trout landed yet. A 25 incher with a girth over 14 inches. He estimates at just over 6 pounds.

By the time we finally land him we were all shot, Kelly from rowing, me from fighting the fish and of course the fish was beat. He had two small flies in his mouth that he took from previous fishermen, a small copper john and a bead head pheasant tail. All in all I ended up landing 15 trout all over 14 inches most in the 16-18 range. Of course it was an awesome trip. I want to go back tomorrow!