Warm Fronts

Sometime last week I said that I was done night fishing for the year unless a good warm front came through.  Well, earlier in the week we had a warm spell and night fishing was back on my mind.  My buddy Gabe was coming up from Utah for the weekend and I thought to myself, what better way to get  the weekend started than a little night fishing.  I had planned on hitting our usual spot but decided to try elsewhere when Chris showed me another potentially awesome location.  Chris and I scouted it out earlier in the day and found the water looking just as awesome as expected.  We only threw a few casts because both of us had places to be.  We did each land a fish, which was a good sign for the trip back.  Chris wasn’t able to make it last night, but we were both pumped to see what beasts would come out to play once the sun went down.

Gabe rolled in to Rexburg around 9:30 PM.  We got rigged up and wadered up at my apartment and headed off to the river.  In case anyone was wondering, walking through a thicket of bushes in the dark is a rather intimidating experience, especially when the area is known to be thick with moose.  Despite my scouting of the trail earlier in the day, it took us twice as long to get to the location, but we finally made it there around 11:00 PM.  The fishing was a little bit slow at first, as it usually is when fishing a new spot.  My first set up wasn’t getting any love so I switched to a new pattern I had tied up the day before.  It was nearly pitch black so I decided the bigger and darker profiled fly would be easier for the fish to see in the water.  A few casts later and I had hooked into my first fish of the night.

At first, I could not really tell how big the fish was.  He ran pretty good for a while and then he rocketed straight out of the water.  That’s the first time I’ve ever had a 20″+ brown jump out of the water.  They usually dive straight for the bottom of the river.  Anyhow,  I could tell by the splash that it was going to be a big fish.  I searched around for him with my headlamp and was able to catch my first glimpse.  I started hollering like a mad man for Gabe to come over and to bring his net with him.  The fish made few more runs and  eventually tired out and I was able to land him.  After a little celebration and snapping a few pictures we sent the big guy on his way.

My Biggest Brown Trout To-Date

Quite the Kype!

My happy bucket was more than full after landing the fish.  We kept fishing the run for a little while longer but thought it’d be best to head downriver a while and let the hole rest.  In the process of searching for the fish with my headlamp, I spooked a whole lot of other browns.  They aren’t too fond of the headlamp shining in the water.  We fished the lower end of the run for quite some time without much luck.  Gabe had a couple of hits but they were short striking the fly.  45- minutes had gone by and we figured we could head back up the best part of the run again.  A few minutes later, Gabe hooked into his first fish of the night.

Gabe’s Brown Trout

We continued fishing for another hour or so but didn’t have any more luck.  There is one thing that I attribute to us catching any fish and that is the use of a stinger hook on the flies we were fishing.  Both fish were barely hooked in the corner of the mouth by the stinger hook alone.  This means that the fish were really short striking tonight.  Stinger hooks are a great way to eliminate the problems you get with short strikes.  The fishing never did turn fast and furious but we were both able to catch a fish.  Night time is when the big boys really come out to play.  This past warm front was enough to get me out again and I’ve decided I’ll probably keep night fishing until it is too cold to do so.

Round Two

Wind, cold fronts, and dropping river flows usually don’t result in very favorable fishing.  Chris and I were still on a fly fishing high from our last night fishing experience and we expected the drastic changes might have slowed the fishing down. With that said, we still stuck with the plan.  Brent from Uprising fly fishing was also able to join us for the night.  We all met up around 5:00 PM and headed out on the short hike in.  The fishing was pretty slow for the first hour and a half and just like Friday night, it picked up right before dark.  I was further downriver and tagged my first fish of the night right before dark.  It was a pretty 14″ brown.  It felt nice to get the skunk off.  Just a couple minutes later Brent hooked into his first fish of the night.  It was a beautiful brown and was really turning over to its spawn colors.

Brent’s First Brown of the Night

We decided to head back up to the money hole and give it another whirl.  Brent took the top of the run, Chris took the bottom, and I opted for the middle.  I threw a long cast out and let it swing towards the end of the run.  Two strips later, I hooked into my first good fish of the night.  The water exploded and the fish took off like a rocket.  Brent had a great net that made landing and handling the fish much easier.  We snapped a few photos and sent the chunky female on her way.

My First and Only Decent Brown of the Night

Chow Time

The next few hours proved to be rather slow fishing.  We tagged a few more smaller fish but nothing like on Friday night.  We made the rounds between the two runs and eventually made our way up to the top run for one last time.  It provided the most action throughout the night.  Around 12:20 AM the fish decided they felt like coming out and playing again.  Brent and I each missed a couple and Chris was able to hook up with the last fish of the night.  It was another beautiful male brown that was turning over to its spawn colors.  In a couple more weeks, most of the browns should be colored up and showing off their incredible colors.

Chris Successfully “Field Testing” a New Pattern for Night Fishing

It was fun while it lasted, but I’m thinking this cold weather will make the night fishing less than productive for a while.  Unless a warm front comes through, I’ll be calling it quits on night fishing for the year.  In the meantime, I’ll dream of swinging streamers in the dark, awaiting the take that can only be described as epic.

Things That Go Bump in the Night!

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.

Whitie Eater

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

The Kype

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.