Field Testing

Tying

Tying flies is a great way to relax and prepare for your next time out on the water.  I like tying a lot of different types of flies but my favorite flies to tie are definitely big and beefy articulated streamers.  It seems they are nearly impossible for a big trout to resist.   Although I love tying flies, my favorite part is the “field testing”.  It’s hard to beat the satisfaction that comes from catching a pig of a fish on something you tied up.  Field testing helps me quickly determine which flies I should tie up more of in the future.  Unfortunately, not all flies are created equal.  Despite how awesome the finished product may look while in the vice, there are certain patterns that just seem to work better than others.  The fish don’t really care how awesome your fly looks to you.  They care about how much it looks like a baitfish or a sculpin.  That’s all just part of the fly tying experience.

Tying Time

Woolhead

Something about red drives the fish crazy

Black and Red- A Deadly Color Combo

Zonk Strips Also Add Great Action in the Water

Field Testing

As I mentioned in my last post, school is now back in session.  My priorities are on my schooling and education, but I’ve still been able to manage a couple trips out in the past couple of week.  Both trips provided excellent fishing and we were able to land a decent amount of quality fish.  I’m blessed to live in such a great part of idaho.  World class fishing is just a hop and a skip away in almost any direction.  Out of all the patterns I’ve been messing around with lately, the olive, cream, and olive/black barred zonk strip color combo has been the most deadly.  I have fished it almost exclusively for the past two weeks.

First Cuttie of the Day

The fish are starting to be very active in the “classic” looking streamer water.  The cool weather has started to turn the fish on to their fall feeding habits. Low water has exposed a lot of the ledges and holes that are covered by water for most of the year.  Wading is also becoming much easier just about everywhere.

Another Aggressive Cutthroat

A Little bit Bigger Than Average 

The fish below was a lot of fun to catch.  I threw out on the far edge of a deep pool.  As I slowly stripped my streamer up to the edge of the hole, this chunky hybrid nonchalantly came up from the depths and inhaled the fly.  It was a blast watching the whole thing go down.

This Chunky Hybrid Fell Victim to the Black and Red Combo

Chris caught and hooked up with a couple of really nice trout on this trip too but we weren’t able to get any good photos.  One of the main reasons was because the net was too shallow and the fish jumped out of it at the last minute.  That fish had some serious shoulders on it.  Another fish was smart enough to run down through a canal head gate which put a quick end to the fight.  We needed some photographic proof that Chris had indeed been out fishing and at the end of the day he hooked into this chunker.  He was a little anxious to get a picture snapped.

Chris With a Good Sized Cutt

I was also able to get out and fish with Josh for a little while a couple days ago.  No real big fish but the little brownies were pretty good scrappers.  It’s always funny seeing an eight- inch fish with your four-inch fly hanging out of its mouth.

Scrapper

Last night I had the chance to go out and do a little more field testing on some chunky browns.  Once again, we didn’t land any monsters, but these fish had some serious shoulders!  I also had the chance to test out my new Cabelas waders I got for my birthday and I love them so far.

Chunky Little Brownie

Sparsely Spotted

Last of the Day

Fall fishing is pretty much in full swing now and it’s only going to keep getting better.  Cooler weather is in the forecast for the week and this should help the fish get even more active.

Footwork

I consider putting in a lot of footwork necessary to a successful day of fishing.  Somedays it’s only a mile or two, other days it’s 12 miles or more. Plain and simple, if you are willing to put in the footwork to get to the best fishing, 99% of the time it is going to pay off.  I’ve come to realize that hiking against the rivers current, for miles at a time, makes hiking on solid ground seem like a breeze.  Like any other fly fisherman, I’d rather be spending time in the water versus time hiking.

Hiking In

The past few weeks have provided a unique and enjoyable opportunity to go and chase Kokanee  salmon.  During fall, they make their annual run up the creeks and rivers to spawn.  The salmon aren’t really feeding at all, but if you present the fly right they can be caught.  The key part is presenting the fly right.  I had not fished for them before so there was a bit of a learning curve.  I started out throwing egg patterns and had no luck.  I switched to a variety of other things and continued to have very little luck.  It then came to me, why not try my go to fly…a black and red articulated streamer.  It catches fish everywhere else.  A cast later, I tagged my first fish of the day.

A Male Kokanee Salmon

A Female Kokanee

As the day went on, we started to pick up on where the type of water the active fish were in and the inactive fish were in.  One of the key things to catching them frequently was finding active fish.  This entailed more hiking but our efforts were rewarded.

Streamer Eater

One of Josh’s Better Males From the Day

Running the Gauntlet

Another Nice Male

Best of the Day

Josh and one of his First of the day

Around 2:30 Josh and I started the hike back to the vehicle.  The funny thing about hiking and fishing is that is is very easy to lose track of how far in you really hiked. A while later we were back to the car and headed back to Rexburg.  The pictures here are from my first of two trips.  Josh also wrote up a great report on the trip and you can see it as his blog over at Central PA Trout Bum.  The second trip was an evening trip and the fish were even more aggressive.  Chris and I tagged some great fish and you can see his post about the second trip at his blog at Many a Fish.

Chow Time

Fall has also rolled in and that means that school is back in session.  I’m fortunate enough to go to a great college that happens to be located within minutes of some of the greatest fly fishing you could ask for.  I’ve started to keep my fishing trips closer to town (relatively speaking), but that hasn’t put a damper on the quality at all.  The nights are getting cooler, and consequently the water is as well.  Cooler water means the trout will become very active and the bigger fish will really start turning on.  Streamer time will soon be in full swing (Pun Intended)!

Little Brownie

Best Brownie of the Day

Beauty

Day One: St Mary 

I recently had the chance to visit Glacier National Park, located in Northwest Montana.  It is one of the most beautiful and incredible places I have ever been in my life.  On our first day, we explored the St. Mary side of the park.  This post doesn’t focus a lot on fishing, but more on the beauty that is found in Glacier National Park.  On our last day in the park, I was able to fish for a couple hours, but that will come later.  Based on everything that I read previous to the trip, I didn’t have very high hopes on the fishing in the park.  A license is not required to fish in the park and the park hasn’t been stocked with fish in many years.  We pulled in to St Mary around 4:00 PM.  After getting checked in and eating dinner we headed off to the park.  The first day we did a lot of sightseeing.  We started with a short hike to a waterfall.  The water in the park is so blue and clear.  The pictures don’t really do it justice.  The views are as beautiful as it gets.

After our hike we headed up to the Logan’s Pass Visitor Center.  On our drive up we noticed a large group of bighorn sheep hanging out on the hillside.  I had seen bighorn sheep before in Yellowstone but they were all females.  These were the first bighorn males that I had ever seen and the size of their horns is a very impressive sight to behold.  There were a lot more that I couldn’t get pictures of, including the largest of them all.  I had only been in the park a couple hours at this point in time and fishing was far from my mind.  I was already looking forward to the next day and what other sights and wildlife I’d be able to see.

Day Two: Many Glacier and Logan’s Pass

We spent spent our second day in the Many Glacier area of the park.  Within the first five minutes of driving we noticed a large road block ahead.  Most of the time this means that everyone is stopped and looking at some animals.  In this case, it was a mother grizzly and her cub.  I had never seen a grizzly in the wild so I was pretty excited.  They were a little ways off but I managed to snap a few decent pictures.

After snapping a few pictures we continued driving to the trailhead.  This first hike of the day was the Swift Current Lake Nature Trail.  It was a relatively easy hike and my first opportunity to do a little fishing.  From my reading, this was supposed to be one of the better lakes, as far as fishing goes.  It was supposed to have brookies in it.  I fished a while, in various spots around the lake and never even had a single hit.  Never saw any fish rise at all.  The fishing was terrible but fortunately the sights were wonderful.

We left the Many Glacier area of the park and headed back to the Logan Pass area to hike to the Hidden Lake Outlook.  We didn’t start this hike until later in the day and there wasn’t enough time to make down to the lake.  Hidden Lake is one of the places that I read about that is supposed to have half decent fishing.  I spoke to a few people that were working their way back down the trail and they confirmed that the fishing had been pretty good that day.  The hike up was only 1.5 miles and the scenery once again did not disappoint.

On our way back to the truck we ran in to a few more bighorns.  We continued our drive down the other side of Logan Pass and headed to our hotel.  On our way down we were able to see our first mountain goats of the trip.  We also drove by the location of the massive landslide that happened there just over a month ago.  All I have to say is I am glad I wasn’t there when that happened.

Day Three: West Glacier and Avalanche Lake

The third day of our stay in Glacier consisted of a hike to Avalanche Lake.  I did a little reading about the fishing in Avalanche lake and it wasn’t looking very promising.  None the less, I packed my fly rod along just in case I saw a few fish.  The beginning of the trail followed Avalanche Creek and provided many great views of cascading waterfalls.  As the trail went on we entered into a thick cedar forest.  Eventually the cedars began to clear and the lake came into view.

I immediately began scanning the surface of the lake and was excited to see multiple fish rising.  Most of the fish were not very large but I was happy to catch anything.  I rigged up and tied on a small elk hair caddis.  The fish were extremely skittish and line shy.  I was caught off guard considering it was high mountain lake filled with fairly small trout.  Most small fish are not very skittish but these ones were the exception.  I had a blast the next couple of hours catching the wild little west slope cutts.  No monsters were brought to hand but their beauty more than made up for it.

On the hike down I decided to throw a few casts in the creek and see if I could pull anything out.  I couldn’t find any reading on the fishing in the creek but I figured it was worth a shot.  It was full of great looking pools and looked too good to not hold any fish.  My suspicions were right and I quickly landed a couple more little cutts.  The creek must be more fertile because these fish were much thicker than the fish from the lake.

I’ve come to the conclusion that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.  What other anglers wrote off as a poor quality lake, not really worth fishing, provided me with some of the most enjoyable fishing I have ever had.  The fish would explode on the fly (when I didn’t line them) and put on quite the show.  Although I didn’t do a lot of fishing on this vacation, my happy bucket was more than full.  The most enjoyable part of the trip was being able to spend time with my family in such a beautiful part of the world.  I am blessed to have a great family and times like these remind me of how blessed I really am.