On the way back from Rexburg, ID


Active Member
I dropped my daughter off in Rexburg last week for another year of college, then had to balance the sad with some glad, so I found some places to fish on the way back. There are so many places to choose from between there and here, but I tend to be drawn to the lesser known, the smaller, the more out of the way streams. Last year taking the same daughter to school, we found our way from Montana into Idaho over a pass on a back road, where a small, wandering green line of grass gradually turned into a willow thicket next to the road, and pulling over to the side of the road, I was happy to discover the dotted blue line in the Gazetteer was actually a solid blue line in real life. A brief stop at the hop-across stream found it full of 6" to 8" rainbows that would slowly rise to a hopper like they had never seen an artificial fly before. Jackpot!

Last Saturday I was finding my way home by a less than direct route that would allow me to check out a known, but not famous stream in central Idaho, reported to have good sized rainbows. There is not a lot of public access, but I found a spot near the road to pull out and check out the stream. Not too large, wadeable pretty much everywhere, banks lined with willows, some color, perhaps from the recent rains or simply from being in an agricultural area. I couldn't quite see the bottom in waist deep water. I thought of putting a hopper on, which reports had said worked well on this river, but instead waded into the surprisingly cold water and started tossing my current setup of two nymphs under an indicator into a nice riffle that dropped into a waist deep run. I was quickly rewarded with a number of 7" to 9" rainbows and a couple pushing 12". This was looking to be a fun morning.

After a couple more riffles and more smallish fish, I came to a long, deep run bordered by willows and promptly found another 12" rainbow, followed by a bunch of pikeminnow. I almost hate to admit it, but it was fun catching them one after another, from 12" to 16", fighting strongly in the deep current and gurgling as I grasped them to unhook the fly (OK, the gurgling wasn't fun; I hate that sound). I had more than a dozen without moving my feet, but kept at it because there were rainbows there also, finally hooking and releasing this nice one. From here, it just got better.
2013.09.14 Nice bow.JPG

I continued upstream, finding a number of 10" to 12" rainbows in some riffles, then came to another deep run. Here the rainbows were 12" to 14", like the one below. Near the head of this deep run, I hooked the biggest fish yet that leaped out of the water, then started pulling very hard in the deep, fast current. As I brought the fish into shallower water, it became apparent that I now had two fish on, a good sized one on the upper fly and an even larger one swimming wildly around it, tethered by the short dropper. After another run back into the deeper water, when I got the fish close again there was only one fish on the line, and when I landed the 15" rainbow I found the dropper was gone. I'd guess the other fish was about 18", but the light tippet of the dropper couldn't withstand the two fish pulling in opposite directions.
2013.09.14 Another Nice bow.JPG

The next hole up, I found a few more 12" to 14" bows, then while drifting the flies along overhanging willows at the head of the run, I lifted up as the indicator went down and a 20"+ rainbow exploded out of the river and tail-danced across the water. I held several runs in the deep fast water, had it turned towards the bank several times, but each time the fish turned back into the fast water as I prayed the size 16 nymph would hold (the fish took the dropper). My prayer was cruelly answered by a sudden run towards the submerged willow branches. I applied just a little more pressure to try to hold the monstrous fish back, but it was too much for the 5x tippet, which snapped. A deep breath, a sigh, another haunting memory...

With shaking hands, I tied on a new dropper and ran a few more half-hearted drifts through the hole, then looked at my watch and realized it was 1 pm and I was still a full days' drive from home. Three hours on this stream had passed in an instant. I made one last cast down and across the flat at the bottom of the hole where I had seen a rise earlier, and promptly hooked into another bright rainbow, in the 18" range. After a brief thrash across the surface, it dove into the willows and promptly broke off both flies. OK, I get the message. It really was time to go. But I will definitely be back, sometime.
Kids off the nest, just another step in life's journey. But the memories and love are still there. Cherish them. And don't forget the school breaks when she will be home. Great times, those.

As far as fishing goes, I would give it up and tell me where all of these good spots are. I would then go there and protect them from poachers. HAHA