Brown Trout Supreme

Not once have I ever heard a fellow fly fisherman utter the words, “Oh, it’s just another brown.”  Even small browns are a treat.  Larger browns are a prized possession. Many sleepless nights have consumed my time; time spent searching for a single fish that only comes out to feed in the still of the night.  Brown trout reign supreme in the eyes of many anglers and have rightfully earned that standing.  Despite their voracious nature, they are also extremely wary, offering a challenge to any who are willing to accept.  The past few weeks have offered many exciting opportunities to fish for browns and my friends and I have not been disappointed.

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Henry’s Fork Butter Ball

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Two Handfuls of Streamer Eatin’ Brownie

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Slab of Silver

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Mouthful of Mylar

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Chris with More River Gold

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Magic Dragon Muncher

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Salmon Fly Eater

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Darkie

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Kyle with a Brownie that Smashed the Peanut Envy 

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Hitting the Banks

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Connect the Dots

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Canal Fishing has its Perks

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As Wild as the Come

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Chris with the Goods of Night Fishing

If you haven’t spent much time targeting browns, now is the time to start.  I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Balance

Trying to balance life is a funny thing.  Just when I think I’ve got it figured out, something unexpected gets thrown in the mix and that delicate balance quickly become chaos.  Spending a meaningful amount of time focusing on my faith in God, my family, my friends, and my schooling are all part of the balance.  Throw in my love for fly fishing and rock climbing, and things can quickly become overwhelming.  Three or so months ago I came to the realization that my life was anything but in balance.  I was out of school and fishing WAY too much.  I know, fishing too much?  How could such a thing ever be possible!  When it gets to the point that you are breaking other important commitments to spend every extra moment of time on the water, you are definitely out of balance, and this is exactly how I was living my life.  I would make plans with friends or family, only to later send out a text informing them I was going fishing instead.  Upon realizing I had been living my life rather selfishly, I began working towards fixing things.  I did what I could to make things right with those who I had hurt.

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“A life that gets out ofbalance is much like a car tire that is out of  balance.  It will make the operation of the car rough and unsafe.  Tires in perfect balance can give a smooth and comfortable ride.  So it is with life.” – M. Russell Ballard

I started by taking some time off from fishing and instead focused on the aforementioned things that matter most to me.  I spent more time doing meaningful things with my friends and family.  I worked on strengthening my faith and relationship with God.  I made my blog private, along with my Instagram account.  I also took down my blog’s FB page and spent significantly less time viewing social media.  I felt by eliminating these distractions from my life I would more easily be able to focus on getting things back in balance.

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Dry Dropper For the Win

After a month had passed and I felt that things were finally balanced in a way acceptable to me, I decided it was time to hit the river again.  I knew that salmon flies would be hatching on one of our local rivers and made the short drive.  Upon arriving, I immediately went down and inspected the grassy banks.  To my surprise there wasn’t a single big bug in the grass.  Undeterred, I tied on a salmon fly and dropped a rubber leg a foot below it, just in case they didn’t feel like eating on top.  I threw a cast to a promising run and on my second cast watched as a big head broke the surface and inhaled my fly.  Shortly after I set the hook, the fish shot down river and began using the current to its advantage.  Eventually, as all trout do, he tired out and was brought to hand.  Few catches in my life have brought me such happiness.  It wasn’t the size of the fish, or the fact that I caught it on a dry, or even that it was a nice fish for the river it came from.  It was the realization that I finally had my life back in balance and that I was no longer putting fishing before the needs of others.  I didn’t have anywhere else I was supposed to be.  I hadn’t promised anyone I would help them with something or hang out with them.  I wasn’t skipping out on homework or other responsibilities.  I was exactly where I wanted to be and knew that there was nothing wrong with that.

IMG_20140514_192756  My First Fish After my Month Hiatus From Fishing

I continued fishing a couple more hours, covering just under a mile of water.  I picked up a fish or two every few minutes, including a couple more decent browns.  Although I enjoy throwing dries, it isn’t my “go to” method, so it was a nice change of pace.  Even tiny bows get your blood pumping when they strike explosively on a fly that they might be two or three inches bigger than.  Eventually evening set in and I decided to call it a day.  I had homework I needed to finish and other responsibilities to get back to.  A month free of fishing might not seem like very long to most people, but when you are used to fishing at least three or four days a week, it feels like a very long time.  With that said, I could not have asked for a better first day back on the water.

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Little Brown, Big Black Spots

As of late, most of my time on the water has been spent fueling my addiction for carp on the fly.  There are so many things that I love about fly fishing for carp, many of which I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts.  It’s hard not to respect a fish that offers such a great challenge.  I discovered an area last, September that is home to a healthy population of carp, but unfortunately I only had a small window of time to fish it.  All winter I looked forward to going back.  This area does not have any springs, so the level of activity the fish are at really depends on air and water temperatures.

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River Gold

One of my favorite things about the area is the unique array of challenges it has to offer.  There are some places in Idaho that I’ll admit the carp are not all that challenging to catch, so long as your presentation is decent, but this is not one of them.  Snake River carp always seem to know you’re up to something.  If you step on the bank too loudly, they spook off and quit feeding.  If you cast a shadow in the wrong spot, it’s game over.  There are only two occasions that I have found tailing fish here.  Most of the time there are a handful of cruisers and a bunch of sunners.  Deep pools, with some over 30 feet deep, are where the fish hold most often.  I also believe the area is frequented by bow fisherman.  All that aside, it is one of my favorite places to chase carp because I enjoy a challenge and I’m a sucker for big fish (Pun intended).

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Incoming Storm

This semester has been busier than usual, but I have tried my best to make time for fishing at least once or twice every couple weeks.  Sometime during the last week of May I had an open afternoon and took advantage of it.  I arrived at the river to stormy skies and temps in the mid to upper 70’s.  The wind blew and and thunder rumbled every once in a while in the distance, but I didn’t think much of it.  I’ve caught carp in worse conditions, so at least the temperature was on my side.  I headed over to my usual spot, scanning the water for any signs of life along the way.  After the brief 10-minute walk I arrived at the flat and noticed a few carp slowly cruising the banks.  I did my best to put the sneak on them but ended up scaring every last one of them away.  I made my way over to one of the pools and found a pod of carp feeding a few feet off the bank.  They were feeding deep, so I would only catch a glimpse of a tail or fin every once in a while, but never saw where there heads were.  I decided to risk spooking the pod and threw a cast into the middle of the cloud of dust.  I waited until I knew my fly was in the zone and slowly began my retrieve.  The line became taught and I set the hook.  Line ripped from my reel as the fish darted into deeper water.  Eventually showing itself, I discovered it was a fat little mirror, somewhere in the 10 lb. range.  I landed the fish, snapped a couple pics, and sent her on her way.

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Biggun’

The once distant storm slowly worked it’s way towards me and the lightning strikes and thunder were no longer that far off.  I decided it’d be best to head back to the truck and call it a day.  On my way back, I noticed a pod of carp actively feeding and couldn’t pass up the opportunity.  I picked out the most active of the fish and made my cast.  She slowly worked her way over to my leech and inhaled it.  I set the hook and in typical carp fashion she took off to the deep.  I fought the fish for several minutes,  the storm continuing to work its way closer with each passing minute.  After a few more minutes I landed the big gal and snapped a few pics.  I don’t carry a scale on me, so it’s hard to say how much she weighed, but it was by far my biggest fish from this section of river.  After releasing her, I realized the storm was right on top of me and I hustled back to my truck, avoiding anymore distractions.  Even in fishing there are things that must be balance, such as risk and safety.  When lightning is directly overhead, it is usually best to call it quits, no matter how good the fishing might be.

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Sunshine, Carp, and Jurassic Park

Since I’ve started fishing again, I have been able to keep things in balance, the way it should be.  Fly fishing is good for the soul.  It allows time to think and reflect on the things that weigh upon my mind from time to time.  True happiness can only be found by living a balanced life, and this truth has recently become more apparent to me than ever before.  The Fish Hunter Chronicles blog is back up and running and I will once again continue posting on a regular basis.  Many thanks to all those who support and follow the blog.  When I began writing on this blog, I only intended it to be a journal for my own personal use.  I had no idea about the people it would allow me to meet and the impact some of my writings would have on people.  I have also added two new tabs, “Carp on the Fly” and “Night Fishing”, so be sure to check them out.

2013: A Year in Review (January – June)

This year will go down as one of the most memorable years I have had in my entire life.  Here are a few things that made 2013 so great.  At the start of each year, I like to set goals and do what I can to achieve them throughout the year.  I am a very goal oriented person and when I set my mind to something, I do all that I can to accomplish it.  I had two goals that had to do with fishing this year.  First, become proficient at catching carp on the fly.  What do I mean by proficient?  I wanted to be able to come upon a carp in any body of water (I’ve only fished for carp in Idaho), under most any conditions, and still be able to catch them.  Anyone can catch an active tailer with a well placed cast.  I wanted to be able to pick up the big sunners that sit just under the surface in 40+ feet of water.  I wanted to be able to pick up fish when nothing but the movement of their tail was visible because the cloud cover was so heavy.  I wanted to be able to pick up fish in the dead of winter during a blizzard.  I spent a great deal of time trying to perfect my carp game and my love of chasing carp has increased ten fold.  My second goal; catch a large brown on a mouse pattern.  I have thrown mouse patterns for years, but I have always struggled with setting the hook.  This year, I was finally able to achieve this goal.

There are other goals I set as well that have nothing to do with fishing.  At the beginning of the year, I made a goal to lose 30 pounds.  I wanted to get back to the same shape I was in during high school.  Through rock climbing, hiking, running, and eating much healthier, I have almost accomplished this goal.  I am in better shape than I’ve been in years.  Academic goals are also important to me.  I do my best to keep my GPA at a level that is acceptable to me.  I just completed by fifth semester at Brigham Young University – Idaho and couldn’t be happier.  In just a couple days, another year will begin, filled with new goals and challenges.  Here are a few of my favorite fishing related memories from 2013.

January:

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January is one of the coldest times of the year in Eastern Idaho.  This year was no exception.  After a week of nothing but subzero temperatures, pretty much every body of water, including the rivers, was frozen solid.  While most people are freaking out about the cold, I get excited when the real cold sets in.  That means it’s time for ice fishing!  For whatever reason, fish seem to get a little dumb when the ice comes over.  Large trout that would normally be difficult to entice put on the feed bag and will viciously attack your offering.  This was the case when I landed the largest fish I have ever caught through the ice.  Chris, Jared, and I hit a spot that we had been eyeballing for a little while.  It always takes a little work to get everyone’s schedule to line up.  We’d been fishing a couple hours already with great success, including a very solid brown that Jared brought to hand.  Up to this point, we had been fishing pretty deep in 35+ feet of water.  I decided to move a little closer to the shoreline and fish in the shallow water.  Within 30 seconds of dropping my jig down the newly drilled hole, I had hooked up with what felt like a very heavy fish.  Eventually I caught a glimpse of the fish and hollered to Chris that I was going to need a hand.  Icing a large trout is much easier to do with the assistance of a friend.  When we first got his head through the hole, we weren’t sure that the fish was going to fit.  Eventually we worked him out, with very little room to spare.  The fish was estimated to be around 9 lbs, and was by far the largest fish I’d ever iced.  The rest of the day provided fast action on large trout and will go down as one of the most epic days of ice fishing I’ve had in my life.

My Largest Fish Through the Ice

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A Different Fish From That Day Being Released

February:

Like January, February can also be a very cold time of year in Eastern Idaho.  Luckily, warm fronts come through on occasion and provide plenty of opportunities to fly fish.  We also had a fairly mild winter (generally speaking), so conditions weren’t too bad at all.  Brent and I met up like usual and decided to head down to one of our favorite runs on the river.  This particular run has put out a lot of nice fish, and we knew it was our best bet to catch the trophy we were seeking.  Deep water combined with mass quantities of bait fish has created the perfect honey hole for producing above average sized fish.  I started to work the hole as I always did, swinging through the water closest to me first, until I eventually reached the far bank.  About half way through my swing, I felt my line stop and knew it was time to set the hook.  As soon as I set, I felt a few very solid head shakes and was pretty sure that I’d set into a very solid fish.  As soon as I caught a glimpse of the fish, I hollered for Brent to come over and told him I’d set into a really nice fish.  I tried to keep calm my nerves as Brent went in for the scoop.  Brent is always quick to help, which I am very grateful for.  It’s nice having fishing buddies who will drop everything to help you land a fish.  Brent successfully scooped the big hen up, we snapped a few pics, and sent her on her way.  The entire event has been permanently etched into my mind.  Big wild trout are hard to come by, and I’m grateful for the opportunity I had to catch such a memorable fish.

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My Largest Rainbow Trout On the Fly

Another one of my favorite memories from February included some early season carping.  Brent had the idea to check out one of our local flats and see if there were any carp cruising around.  The air temp was 34, the wind was howling, and it was snowing.  Perfect conditions for carp fishing, right?  I liked the idea of catching a carp in February, so it didn’t take much to convince me.  As soon as we pulled up to the flat we saw carp jumping around in their usual manner.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  That experience has shaped a  lot of my opinions about carp behavior in general.  Brent and I snuck over to the area where most of the carp seemed to be holding.  I started working a pod of tailer that were holding just a couple feet off the bank.  I couldn’t see any of the fish but the cloud of dust they were stirring up was a pretty good indicator that they were active.  I ran my fly through the feeding zone and was greeted with a hard smack on the other end.  I had hooked up with a carp, in February, in the middle of a snow storm.  Despite the cold water, the fish still fought great.  After landing the fish, Brent snapped a few shots and we sent him on his way.  With the exception January, November, and December, I landed a carp every month this year.  November could have been done but my free time was limited and I chose to fish for trout instead.  This experience of cold weather carping has helped me understand that as long as you can locate the fish, they can generally be caught, even in very tough conditions.

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First Carp of the Year

March:

March was all about carp.  Unseasonably warm weather brought the carp into the flats earlier than usual and many nice fish were brought to hand.  In fact, most of my biggest carp of the season came in March.  One of my most memorable days was with Brent in Mid-March.  When we showed up the air temp was in the low 40’s, not really ideal for carp fishing, but still doable.  We picked up a couple fish a piece but it was slow until the temperature got above 60.  Once temps reached into the mid 60’s, I’d have sworn every carp in that flat was tailing in the shallow waters close to the shore line.  It was as if a light switch had been flipped on that meant, “Time to eat!”  Brent and I fished to tailers for several hours and both set a new personal best for common carp.  Brent caught the fattest carp I’ve ever seen in my life.  We didn’t have a scale on us, but there was no doubt that the fish went over 30 lbs.  The thing was huge!  My fish was somewhere in the 20’s and definitely my heaviest and longest common carp to date.  Commons aren’t very easy to find in Eastern Idaho, so it’s always a treat to catch one.  Sometimes conditions are perfect and you get lucky and time it just right.  This was one of those days that will stand out in my mind for quite some time.

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Doubled up on a Couple 20+ lb. Carp

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My Personal Best Common Carp

April:

One of my favorite things about running a fly fishing blog is all of the great people that I have been able to meet and fish with.  Sometime in early 2013, Brent and I began discussing a potential pike fishing trip in Utah with Targhee Boss.  Targhee runs a fly fishing blog and guiding business called Utah Stillwaters.  If you are familiar with Targhee’s blog, it is quite evident that he knows his stuff when it comes to fly fishing for these toothy critters.  Targhee graciously invited Brent and I down to fish with him the first week of April and we made the short drive down to Utah.  Other than information I had gleaned from a few videos on the internet, I knew nothing about fly fishing for Pike.  I knew they liked brushy areas and that they liked eating big meaty flies.  That about summed it up.  Targhee helped fill in the gaps and it wasn’t long before we were catching fish.  Casting the large flies required to fish for Pike is no easy task.  Casting these flies in the 20+ mph winds and rain is even more strenuous.  Sometimes you can cast for hours without as much as a single hit.  This is exactly what I was experiencing, but I didn’t mind one bit.  I was enjoying the experience of fishing new water with new friends.

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Girth

The area we were fishing wasn’t producing anything other than snags, so Targhee recommended we go try another cove that had been productive for him in times past.  I had recently broke off and decided to tie on a great looking fly that Brent had tied.  It was significantly smaller than what we had been using most of the day, but I really liked the way it looked.  We arrived at the cove and I began working the shoreline.  The water was deeper here than a lot of the places we had fished previously.  I let my fly sink to the bottom and began working it slowly back towards the boat.  Suddenly I felt resistance and set into the fish with a solid strip set.  Within seconds, I could tell this fish was significantly larger than the fish I’d been catching earlier in the day.  I raised my rod and applied as much pressure as I felt comfortable doing, trying the bring the fish to the surface.  I eventually caught my first glimpse of the big fish and let out a big holler.  I was hooked up with the biggest (length) fish I’d ever had on in my life.  I did all that I could to keep my nerves calm.  She made a couple runs toward the motor of the boat but luckily stayed clear.  When she finally tired out, Targhee swooped in with the net, sealing the deal.  We all celebrated, snapped a few pics, and sent the big gal on her way.  She was just shy of the Utah State Catch & Release Record.  Thanks again Targhee for showing me the ropes to catching pike on the fly.  Couldn’t have done it without you!

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My Largest Fish on the Fly…Almost 42″ and over 21 lbs.

May:

Out of any month this year, I fished the least amount in May.  I got out a whopping two times.  School was in full swing and despite my love for fishing, school takes priority.  Business Fundamentals (4 credit class) and Micro Economics (3 credit class) seemed to consume most of my time.  Free time was hard to find.  With that said, you won’t find me complaining.  I am out of school from Christmas to Mid-April every year, so I have plenty of free time to spend on the water then.  The times I was able to get out were great and some nice fish were landed.  Nothing really stood out in May, just good times fishing with good friends.  You learn to appreciate the time you get on the water when trips become a rarity.

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Carp in a Newly Discovered Flat (courtesy of Gabe and Kyle)

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Chunky Bow

June:

Things started to slow down a bit with school in June and I was able to get out and fish a few more times.  Fishing for Carp at Blackfoot is always good in June, the Henry’s Fork is in prime shape, and some small creeks are just finishing up runoff and can be a lot of fun.  June was good to me and provided some great fishing memories.  One of the most memorable fish I caught in June was on the Henry’s Fork.  I was fishing with my friend Jonathan on the lower river.  We decided to try an area that had been pretty good in the past with hopes of catching some nice fish.  As we worked out way down to the river, I noticed a nice trout rising to some small bugs on the water.  I was set up with a typical nymph rig (rubber legs on top, hare’s ear on bottom) and had no desire to change my entire rig for one fish.  The salmon fly hatch had only ended a week or two previous and I though I’d push my luck.  I threw a cast out where the fish was graciously feeding and sloppily skidded my rubber legs along the waters surface.  To my surprise, the fish exploded on the fly.  Considering how many people fish the salmon fly hatch on the Lower Henry’s Fork, I was surprised he was even remotely interested in a fly on top.  Henry’s Fork browns are some of the prettiest fish in Idaho, and it’s always a treat to land one of decent size.  Jon and I never caught anymore fish in that spot, but the one fish made the trip worth it.

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A Healthy Henry’s Fork Brown Trout

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Small Stream Brownie

The first half of the year offered many incredible fishing opportunities that won’t soon be forgotten.  July through December was all about big trout on the fly.  New friends, new water, many all nighters, and a lot of hours on the river resulted in some phenomenal fishing.  Stay tuned, I’ll be posting about the rest of the year tomorrow morning!