A Re-Introduction of an old poster turned lurker....


5 weight

Hi to all! Just thought it was time for me to re-introduce myself and jump back in! I've been registered for some time, but slipped into the "lurker doldrums" recently. :HMMM Used to post from time to time (lurked a lot more) on the old VFS BB, but that thing has taken a serious nosedive since Ross and the boys moved over to about.com :MAD

Anyway, I see a few familiar faces around here (t-hole,etc), and this place seems to be turning into a first-class forum with a great bunch of guys - keep up the good work!

Here's my first contribution to the reports and discussion: just got back from 4 days on Kelly Creek in Idaho with my Dad and brothers. Now for those of you who read the fly fishing mags (like me :WINK ), there was a GLORIOUS write-up in one well-known mag about 2 years ago that kind of "let the cat out of the bag" (there's been quite a few more since then). This article spun yarns of 20" native westslopers that ate anything you would float by them. Well, as with many such situations, the author, IMHO, slightly embellished about the size of the fish. Don't get me wrong, the fishing was spectacular and the "creek" (more like the size of the average river around here) was absolutely gorgeous. But, the biggest fish of the trip was 16 1/2" with a TON of 12-14" fish as the norm. Now these figures are accurate - the big fish were taped. The article was also accurate about the dry fly fishing - the cutts over there love to take bugs on the surface. Stimulators/seducers in orange, size 10 or 12 were hot, as well as Parachute Adams in #14-16 and Tan EHC in size 14. One evening I fished a nice deep run for a couple of hours before dark with the orange stimulator and SLAYED the fish - every cast. Once they became "wise" to the Stimmy, I switched to a size 16 PMD sparkle dun and continued the massacre. Again, once the fish smelled a rat, I switched BACK to the Stimmy and just about reached utopia. Needless to say, my buddy that was with me was a tad bit pissed since he struggled to catch just one, hehe. It was also cool watching the stonefly emergence after dark around the campfire - the nymphs looked like a hoard of huge ants crawling up the beach to find the right rock to shuck on.

It was my first trip there, and it is a road trip. Allow 9+ hours of road time if you drive straight through (**from Tacoma/Fed Way area). I WOULD HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS FISHERY, but don't have high hopes of huge trout. IMHO, the beauty of the Westslope Cutts made everything worthwhile.

Sorry for the long post, but I hope this gives some good info.

I'll be around....

5 Weight
Mr 5-weight,

Is is still early, you WERE talking about Kelly Creek just now right? I have never been there but it is on my list of rivers to hit next year. Did you have an experience of catching big fish without working too hard? These are my favorite types of fisheries since around here, it seems like it takes a miracle to catch a big fish. Did Kelly have a blizzard caddis hatch in the evening? Most big fish rivers seem to be charactarized by this. The Missouri, Henry's, Madison and Bitterroot all are high in insect life which is why the fish love to rise to dry flies, did Kelly give you this experience?

By the way, welcome to a great community.

Several years ago when I used to fish Kelly, I caught all my 20" fish on olive wooley buggers. Those fish were suckers for buggers. Most everyone on that river would throw dries during the day, and I would clean house. In the evenings there would be good caddis hatches and great dry fishing to be had, but I think the biggest I'd caught on a dry would be 16".

The last time I was there the 20" fish were getting hard to come by and the river was seeing a lot more pressure. That was a year before "The Article". I have not been back since and I am a bit afraid to, as I enjoy the memory of that fishery.

5 weight

Yes, I know it was early.... coffee was definitely required to write that post. Getting back to Kelly Creek - we wade fished the whole time. I left the pontoon boat at home since I didn't know anything about the geography of the river. Now that I've been there, I wouldn't suggest floating this creek unless you're an experienced oarsman and have a boat that can handle class 3-4 water. There isn't that much white water, and there are nice stretches that any monkey could float, but there are some deep-walled rapids splitting up the runs and pools. Wade fishing was fun, especially wet wading during the day - the river water felt great, and you could always find a place to cross the river and work up or down to the hot spots.

As far as blizzard hatches, there were a few "clouds" of caddis in the evenings, but nothing I would consider a blizzard hatch. The trout were definitely eating the caddis, though. One mid-day I tried a green emerging/swimming caddis on a downstream swing and had a lot of fun. There were some mayflies as well - brown drakes? in about a size 12, PMDs, BWOs.. I caught some fish on a size 12 March Brown parachute. The stoneflies were the most consistent bug - nymphs and adults that looked like goldens and skwalas in sizes from 4 to 12 were very common - after dark the nymph migration was amazing. We even captured adults of 3 different types - goldens, skwalas?, and even an adult Salmon Fly!

For the accomodations, we camped in tents right on the river. Evening windstorms made fishing with my 3 weight difficult, and one night I thought the tent was going to blow away.

Hope this answers your questions - this is a great fishery, and I'll definitely go back.

5 weight

Oops, missed a couple of questions. 1. river access. The access is good - IMHO, too good. From where Kelly Creek dumps into the NF Clearwater, there is 7 to 8 miles of prime fishing water right next to the road - campsites in this area are a little scarce.
2. The 20" fish - I know there are HUGE trout in that creek, and I'm glad to hear you caught some Derek. There are a lot of deep, calm pools (I call it the frogwater) that need to be fished with a fast sinking line and a bugger or sculpin. These pools are where the big cutts, whitefish(yuk), and bulls hang out. I just would rather fish the nice runs, riffles, and cut banks than pound the pools with a sinker. I'm sure those 20 inchers put up quite a fight, though! BTW, did you ever catch any huge whitefish or bull trout?
I just made a visit to Kelly Creek for the 3rd year in a row and I can confirm that 5wt's depiction is accurate. Fished this year on July 13-14 and I must say that it was hotter, buggier (mosquitoes and horseflies that is)and more crowded than usual . Fishing was relatively good but not as great as in the past. Caught about two dozen fish between 10-17" in a total of 8 hours on the water.

The Westslope cutts on the creek and tributaries are opportunists due to the short growing season. In my experience, hatches tend to be light and I have yet to see a rise to naturals there. Consequently, virtually any dry fly will work but I prefer a 12-14 yellow stimy or 12 Royal Wulff (ride high and easy to see). Patterns like stimy, para PMD, para Adams, cranefly, royal wulff, foam beetle...you name it...brought fish to hand.

We had planned to hike down Cayuse Creek to the confluence with Kelly Creek but water was to high. The fishing is said to get better the further upstream you go.

As far as large cutts go, 17" is the largest taken (on dries) in my group. I am sure that larger fish can be found by probing deeper holes with streamers, especially in the headwaters.

If you plan to head out there, I would recommend taking I90 to Superior and following the dirt road south to the NF Clearwater and Kelly Creek. You can get to Superior in 6-7 hours and another 1.5 hours on the dirt road will get you to the promised land. The alternative route through Orofino takes much longer.

Dries are fun, but I like 20"er's too! :LOVEIT Yes they fight well.

I don't fish that deep water or use sinking lines. I would fish the same water that you would fish with dries, just quartering a weighted bugger on a floating line. Those big fish are right in the same water, but nearly always at the very head of a run. All my big fish came in the very first or second cast at the head of a run, and then they would get progresively smaller as I worked my way down. Once I started catching 13" fish, it was time to move to the next hole. I would catch a ton of fish 16"-18", but the true 20"s were hard to come by.

I think those fish see so many dries, that the big ones get very wary of them. In the evenings I would sometimes stumble upon a big rising trout, but was never succesful in enticing one. A few last minute refusals and then the would just dissapear. Smart cuts!

I doubt I would catch as many big fish as I did a few years ago, as that creek has probably seen a lot of pressure in the last four years.

I never caught any bulls and don't know a lot about them, but a friend caught a few on a spoon in the deep slow pools you mentioned. They were about 16". I assume they probably weren't in the water I was fishing.

Did you fish any of the slower runs with dries? It can be very exciting to see a cut slowly rise through about 5' of water to take your fly. It seems like an eternity.
Every thing I've heard has pointed towards hiking to cayuse creek, but I've found the opposite to be true. The best fishing I've had has been right near the parking lot at the trailhead. Everyone would park there and hike upstream and leave that water alone. I've hiked up a ways and found the fishing to be dissapointing in comparison.

5 weight

Derek, that night I talked about with the Stimmy and PMD was in one of those slowly moving pools. I found a way to wade out to a large rock in the middle of the pool, and stood up there and heaved casts up against the far rock cliff in the current. The water is gin clear, and I saw every fish take my fly - it was incredible. The largest fish I caught that night - about 16" - actually swam up and took my Stimulator just below the surface, after a cross-current pulled my fly under. I saw him rise up and roll over, and the fight was on. There were small clouds of caddis buzzing around the river surface, and I'd just aim my casts slightly upstream or right in the cloud.

What a great time. :BIGSMILE
The bigger fish are available in September and October. As the water cools in the fall the big fish start falling back toward the deeper pools and warmer water of the mainstem NF Clearwater. There are also few people on the river system after Labor Day and definitely after the last week in September. Fishing can truly be incredible right up to the first snow (which can come earlier). Hunting opens the second weekend of October and I haven't fished after that.

Last August my son and I hiked up Kelly Creek and camped for two days, don't recall the names of the campsites but we wound up at a nice meadow. Same experience, lots of fish, good dry fly fishing but much smaller than we had expected. Average 10-12 inches, topped out at 16. In an effort to find the bigger fish we switched to a green Montana stone and markedly increased the catch rate, slightly increased the average size of the fish but nothing over 16.
It's beautiful country, and once you get past the five mile point you lose most of the dayhikers. The hike is very hot and exposed, you want to travel in the morning.