Night fishing is always something that I have wanted to learn more about and become proficient at. Saturday night provided a perfect opportunity to do so. The moon was full, providing great light, and the river flows have finally come down to manageable enough wading levels. I arrived at the river around 4:30 and headed upstream to what looked like a decent run to swing a streamer through. The water was beautiful but there wasn’t much going on as far as the fishing goes. I managed to catch a couple little browns but nothing to brag about. Either way, it’s always fun having a trout smack a streamer. Even the little guys hit with a crazy amount of power. Around 5:30, I got a call from Chris and he let me know he was on his way over. He had another place in mind that he had done pretty well for browns in years past. We made the hike in and arrived to find the run to be essentially non existent anymore. The water was swift and not ideal for throwing streamers at all. Hiking upriver would consist of a lot of bushwhacking so we opted to head downstream. We were able to find a gorgeous run and got to swinging. By the time we were in the water and fishing, there was only an hour or so of daylight left. We threw over and over again for the next half hour and only managed a couple of very light taps. The fishing was not going as we had hoped. We continued to work our way down river a little further and found a run that had fish rising everywhere. Eight Wt fly rods and size 20 dry flies don’t really go together well so we continued throwing our big streamers at them. Eventually we figured out that skidding the fly across the surface made enough disturbance to draw them in and was usually followed by a huge explosion. Unfortunately, a lot of the fish missed the fly in their excitement. Chris managed one fish this way right before it got dark and I had yet to bring a fish to hand for the past three hours.
We continued to have a few bites here and there until the fish quit rising and then the fishing slowed way down. At this point in time it had been dark for a half an hour so we decided to head back up to the first spot we had tried. We started working the flies in much slower and shallower water and this seemed to be the ticket. Right away Chris and I had a few more hits. Unfortunately none of these materialized into land fish. Chris stayed in the low end of the run and I went to fish the top. As my fly reached the end of its swing and I made a short strip, my fly got hammered harder than it had been all night. I finally managed a good hook set and a great fight ensued. One of the difficulties of night fishing is seeing the size of the fish you have on. The fish made a few runs and I eventually got it within the range of the headlamp and both of us started hooting and hollering. I’m sure if anyone else was in the nearby woods they would have thought we were a couple of crazies. The light seemed to make the fish angry and he took another run. Eventually we got him in and had landed the first big brownie of the night.
My First Brownie From Night Fishing
We snapped a few photos and quickly sent the big guy back on his way. We started throwing out in the run again for the next few minutes with little success. We decided to head back downstream again to let the run rest a while and let the fish calm down a little. Moving downstream proved to be a good choice. Shortly after throwing in to the run I hooked into another decent fish. This one wasn’t as big as the first but it was still a blast to catch. We snapped a few more pics and sent him on his way.
My Second Brownie of the Night
A good 30-minutes had gone by and we decided it was time to head back up to the top run again. This pattern of switching around seemed to do the trick. Chris hadn’t hooked into a fish for a while and it was his turn to catch a big one. He took the top of the run this time and it didn’t take long for him to hook up. As soon as we caught a glimpse of his fish, we started hooting and hollering again. There is something about hooking into a big brown in the night that makes it that much more exciting. Once again, when his fish saw the light of the headlamp it made a run for the middle of the river. This is why we fish 8 wts. A 5 wt would not have had the backbone necessary to turn most of these fish when they run like crazy. After another great battle, Chris was able to land his first big brownie of the night. This brown was covered in huge black spots and was topped off with an awesome kype.
Chris With his Big Brown Trout of the Night
We continued fishing the same run and a couple minutes later I hooked into what felt like another nice fish. One of the coolest things about the night fishing was hearing the big brownies jump and occasionally catching a glimpse of their silhouette in the moonlight. Big browns definitely like to go bump in the night. Like all the previous fish, this one ran like crazy. He eventually came close enough to confirm it was another quality fish. We got him landed and proceeded to snap a few more pictures.
I Think we Need a Bigger Net
My Last Big Brown of the Night
We continued fishing a little while longer and each tagged a couple more smaller fish. Most of the time, that means the hole needs to rest a while so the big guys can move back in. It was starting to get late and we both decided that we were pretty happy with what we’d caught so we decided to call it a night. We also experienced some other things “Going Bump In the Night” on this trip. Part way through the night we heard something huge crashing sound in the water across the river. I’ve jumped a lot of moose while hunting the river bottoms and immediately knew thats what it was. I am just glad it was on the far side of the river. I also confirmed the theory for myself that when the sun goes down, the big browns really come out to play. Plans are already being prepared for another night on the river chasing big browns. As we made our way back to our vehicles, I reflected on what an incredible time of year the fall in Idaho is. The colors of the trees are turning over to some of the most vibrant colors you could ask for. The cool crisp air is good for the soul. The fish are fattening up for the long winter ahead. Life is pretty dang good.