Journal notes from quality destinations across the country...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kalama River Steelhead

My sixteen year-old son was sitting on a large rock yesterday at the top of a deep run. A few casts later the line went tight in the current and he felt a bump. Recasting, he felt it again and then eventually set the hook on what had to be a nice fish. It pulled hard and flashed in the hole before giving the fly back. But sometimes providence is on your side and another cast resulted in another take and this time he had the fish hooked good.

After a long fight he eventually held up a thirty-inch, bright and fresh Steelhead. It had to be 10+ pounds. A real beauty.

Some guys fish a long time for a moment like this (me being one of them). Terry caught his two hours into the day. He doesn't know how good he has it.

Or maybe he does.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Idaho in the Fall

Well, a week on the road in September can take a lot out of you but there's no doubt that it was worth it. My oldest, Tommy, came along and we fished four rivers in five days throughout a large part of north-central Idaho. 1,400 miles on the Tahoe proved we'd gone a long way...

Monday started on the South Fork of the Clearwater River. Tuesday was the Lochsa River. Wednesday saw us hiking on the Selway River. Thursday and Friday were spent up the north fork on Moose Creek. These rivers are all part of the Clearwater drainage which covers 9,600 square miles of beautiful countryside. Seventy percent of the area is forested and most is undeveloped. Much of it sits as it would have looked when Louis and Clark came through this area 200 years ago.

Of course, our target was the beautiful Westslope Cutthroat, which I consider just about the prettiest fish on the planet. The last afternoon of our last day offers a good example of what our trip was like.

Tommy had just come back from a hike up Osier Creek and we were packing up camp in preparation for heading homeward later. First, we would hit a couple more holes on Moose Creek.

Parking on the shoulder of the one-lane, dirt road, we grabbed our gear and went down the hillside toward the creek. We made our way through tall scrub brush that was already beginning to show signs of fall coloring. Coming out on a gravel bar next to the creek, it was only fifteen feet across to a steep rock wall that made up the opposite shoreline and created a deep green hole. The riffle at the top of the hole looked perfect but obvious signs of risers in the deeper water got Tommy's attention right away.

I sat down on a rock and leaned my rod against a bush while Tommy shook out some line. He made a modified steeple cast to clear the brush behind him and put a small Caddis pattern at the top of the deep slick. The fly drifted along and then quickly showed drag. Tom lifted up and recast, throwing in a mend to extend the drift. His fly went down to the lower end of the hole and a fish rose up after it was well past and took something else just beneath the surface. It was apparent that the fly wasn't tempting anyone.

"Wanna try something else?" I asked.

"Like what?"

"Swap rods with me. I have a beetle tied on."

Tom stepped over and traded his 3-weight for my 4-weight. He cast to the top of the run, into the middle of that inviting riffle. The fly showed drag again and he recast. Throwing in a downstream mend, the fly went about a foot before Tommy quickly lifted the rod to the sky and set the hook on a fiesty trout. He played him for a minute and then beached him. I took pictures while Tom worked to get the fly back and release the fish.

"That is a good one." I said. "How big?"

"Thirteen and a half." He replied, obviously quite happy.

Fish on these mountain creeks don't tend to get any bigger than about 16 inches so this was one of the good ones.

Releasing the fish and standing back up, he blew water from the beetle.

"Ready to try one more hole before we go?..."