Trip Report The "Garnet Sand" River in Idaho


Sculpin Enterprises
WFF Supporter
I have fished this river almost every year for the last 20 years. I had missed out last year as I was traveling in Australia, but I had time this year and I was looking forward to it. Let’s call it the “Garnet Sand” River in Idaho.

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Flows were a tad below their historic averages but the water was still cool and the fish healthy and frisky. The river is not unknown and other fishers drove up and down the road looking for likely water. But there is one stretch that is rarely fished. It doesn’t look like much – too fast and too shallow in a cursory look. But there are deep slots and nice fish for those willing to wade aggressively.

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The huckleberries were lush and ripe in the meadows and the streamside flowers put on a show, such as this elephanthead lousewort (Pedicularis groenlandica),

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and large boykinia (Boykinia major).

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Butterflies, like this zerene fritillary (Speyeria zerene)

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and this lorquins admiral (Limenitis lorquini)., were active as pollinators, bribed with nectar.

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In late July, there is not much emerging during the day, a few midges or the rare caddis coming for a drink. But cutts are cutts, bless their four-chambered linear hearts. And they will rise to dry flies, even when there isn’t an active hatch. Elkhair caddis patterns and black ant patterns can be effective; hoppers or stimulators can work too to entice up the pool bosses in the deeper pools. Cast to likely holding water, the tops of deep pools, the edges of the chutes of standing waves, the tailouts of deep chutes.

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But it is the evening when the river really wakes up. It doesn’t happen every evening, but when there is a flush of emergences, all the fish, from the tiddlers to the pool bosses, feed like piranhas. Now is the time to cast to specific rising fish. They can be very selective; prepare for frustration as you search for the hot fly. It is time to dig out the emergers and spinners. And go small. But it can be rewarding too.

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Their colors are amazing and they put up a respectable fight on a 3 wt. It was fun to reconnect with friends and a familiar river.




For him there whould always be the riddle of steel
Impressed by all the details, a great read. Thanks for posting your trip up.


Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
Thanks for the write-up and the photos of those gorgeous Cutthroats. Your description of the pool coming to life in the evening reminds me of an evening I had on the Elwha when every trout in the pool was in feeding mode and I was finally able to drift my #14 Adams over a careless hungry 16" Rainbow, which capped off my day.


Sculpin Enterprises
WFF Supporter
I really miss fishing the Elwha. I have had evenings just as you described. I fear that it will not reopen to fishing in the near future or I won’t be up for the rigors of the hike in. Alas...

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