Two friends I've known since grade school and I spent some time camping and fishing around Fernie last weekend. There was suppose to be a fourth friend but work got in the way. We camped at a new private campground complete with picnic tables, fire ring, and private showers/restrooms. I was not in charge of the camping so not sure the cost but it was very reasonably priced, close to town and pretty busy with other campers.
Overall we spent a day driving up and back and floated/fished 3 days. The very first fish I caught was a thick-bodied fish around 16 inches or so. My buddy said that was the biggest, prettiest cutthroat he had ever seen. Of course, the next two fish he caught, he said the same thing. And the rest of the day continued like that. We found a put-in that was not accessible by the drift boats and only saw one other small pontoon drifter the whole day. I don't even recall seeing any wade anglers that day. The next day we chose a more popular drift but one that I had never floated before and found very nice water, but saw 3 or 4 drift boats. I really don't think it affected the numbers or size of the fish we caught.
The third day we went to a remote river that sees much less pressure from guides or regular anglers. The flow was very fast and water pretty clear. The fish were not as thick bodied and were much more pale in color, which we assumed was because of the clearer water and much lighter substrate. There was not much holding water as the two different (short) sections we floated were high gradient and moving very fast. Whenever there was any slower water, there were usually 3-5 fish waiting to attack our flies. It was during this stretch that we encountered a big storm. At one point I felt like Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump,
when he was up in the mast fighting the hurricane. I was hollering at the top of my lungs going through some pretty heavy whitewater, getting pounded by the rain and waves crashing over the bow of the Freestone. The drift was as much, or more fun than the actual fishing.
We had smoked chops and chicken from Owens Meats in Cle Elum for dinner but the best meal was duck fajitas my buddy made from some birds he shot last winter. Each of us had our unique camp chores and the camping portion went very smoothly.
We saw tons of wildlife; deer and elk every day and a bear ran across the road right in front of us though we were unsure whether it was a black bear or young griz. Lots of birds including a few grouse.
Aside from the weather being much cooler than normal, there were decent bug hatches. We pretty much fished dry flies the whole time except for a time or two when we broke out the streamer rods, which my buddy hooked and fought a large bull trout but it came off at his feet. The one or two times I fished a switch rod and streamer, I still caught cutthroat. The great thing about these cutthroat is even though they are free rising to dry flies (which is a great attribute about them, the other being their girth and beauty), they were not pushovers. It took a good presentation in the right water with a good pattern to get them to come to the top. But when you got it all together, they seemed easy. The only negative I took away from the trip was on most of the older, larger fish, there was obvious signs of hooking scars and in a way, I felt for them. But it did not seem to affect their feeding behavior and ability.
We didn't take a lot of fish pictures but there was a memorable experience. We stopped on one side of the river for a while to BS and whatnot when we see this fish rising fairly consistently on the other side of the river. My buddy jumped in the Freestone and quickly rowed across the other side. We could clearly see his fly from across the river and the fish just explodes on it. My other buddy was able to capture his expression right when the fish took.
Below are a few more pictures. All in all, it was a great trip...so good that I plan on going back next week.