Living in the Past....Looking to the Future
Saturday, September 25th 2021 4PM
First of all, this blog post isn’t about catching trout on the Boise River. However, there are lessons to be learned from it that may help you do just that or at least have better time fishing. No, this blog post is about making new memories and reliving old ones with those that have passed. This Blog post is about an adventure only a river can give you.
Fall is by far my favorite time of year on our surrounding waters. The mornings are crisp, the leaves are changing and we say goodbye to long summer days. My dad loved autumn as well, it is probably from him that I found such a deep appreciation for the season. I remember when I was young, he made it seem that September and October were the most magical months of the year. Hunting seasons were underway and big fish began to eat in earnest for a well placed fly. It was like Disneyland and winning the lottery at the same time, but it went on for weeks. For an outdoorsman like my dad, it just didn’t get any better than that.
So, in honor of the changing of the season, as well as to honor my dad, I decided to do something a little different yesterday that I am sure he would have smiled about. I didn’t have to go to work. I was supposed to be in Reno for a soccer tourney for my son Alex aka “The Sarge”. Plans changed and I was going to be at home. So a few days prior, I thought to myself, what should I do on my day off? Since quail had just opened, I settled on a cast and blast trip on the snake river. Besides, my biggest bass always come in the fall.
The dogs were awake early. I think they had a feeling something was up. I am pretty sure they could sense it from me. I admit it, I was excited. After getting everything and one loaded up, we headed for the snake river. Now Luna (Springer Spaniel) isn’t scared of the boat. She doesn’t really like it much, but she doesn’t argue when she sees a shotgun is involved and probably birds. Zeke (chocolate lab) on the other hand, did not care for the boat. It was his first time and was a struggle all day with him getting in. The dude just loves water that much. Yet I couldn’t wait for him to get his sea legs, I was determined to get to my first island. So Luna has 4 years of hunting under her belt and is a Rockstar at flushing birds, but her retrieve could use some work. Zeke, who is 2 years old, has never hunted. I have a lot of work to do with him yet, but I was pleasantly surprised with his natural abilities and keen observance of Luna. So as we came to our first island, no sooner had we arrived ashore when I heard a rooster quail bark out the alarm. Luna heard it too and up the bank she went. Zeke and I lumbered behind. It didn’t take long for the covey to flush; I went 1 for 2. Those buggers are fast! As we moved around the island, I was reminded how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful valley. Just moments from our living rooms, we can be hunting and fly fishing…..it is amazing. After almost circling the island, we finally found a second covey of quail. Again, I went 1 for 2. Perhaps a little target practice there Matt? After finally getting the dogs back in the boat, we moved off to the other island. Sadly, there were no quail on the next island and it was getting close to noon. It was time to cast.
It wasn’t far to my first fishing spot. The river is running low and clear right now and experience from years past says it is on fire! Early autumn is always a good time to sight fish carp on the flats or chase nice sized smallies. I had stopped at my favorite carp flat between island 1 and island 2. There wasn’t much going on there so I knew it would be an afternoon of chasing “Bronze” in the slots (gravel areas between the weeds) and the holes (ummm…well… you know…. holes). Armed with a 7 wt, sink tip line, a crawdad pattern and a simiseal trailer, it was only a few casts before I found my first customer. He was a quality fish, strong and determined to wrap me in the weeds. He gave a struggle as only a smallie can then finally gave up and I swung him into the net. After a quick inspection by the dogs, he swam off into another slot between the weeds to sulk. I picked up a few smaller fish, then moved on to the next hole.
The second hole, or as I call it, the “pump” hole always has tanks swimming in it. But these fish are not push overs and they didn’t get big by being stupid. Good luck catching one in the summer months…..it just doesn’t happen. However, for a few weeks every year, they do get super greedy and you have a legit shot at multiple 3+lb smallies out of the “pump”. I was hoping it was going to be one of those days as I changed out flies for something darker. I settled on a black with gold tinsel Depth Charge for my lead fly. This is a fly I came up a few years back and frankly, is hard to describe. It pretty much resembles a crawdad or something else that creeps along the bottom with a ton of little rubber legs. With barbell eyes and on a 10ft sink tip, this thing sinks like a rock. For my trailer, I picked a dark green simiseal leech. There is a certain danger to fishing 2 flies for small mouth. You run the risk of hooking 2 fish at once which sounds like fun, but it really isn’t. In fact, it seems like when you do hook a nice river smallie on your lead fly, some 12 incher will come out of nowhere and take your trailer and then the two fish begin fighting against each other. The bigger fish almost always comes undone leaving you with the smaller one. After sinching down my last knot, reminding the dogs to stay in the boat, I started to strip off line and pick my first spot. A few casts in and I was hooked up on a smaller fish. As I brought him to me out of the deeper, darker water I realized that he was being followed by a much larger fish. Instinctively, I gave him the fish a little slack, trying to get this larger fish to hit the trailer. 2 or 3 laps around the hole and the larger fish lost interest and crept back below the pump. I ended up finishing out pretty strong with 4 more bass to hand but I had my chance at a bigger fish and that ship had sailed. Like I said, they may be greedy right now, but they aren’t stupid. Satisfied, we headed for the ramp.
As I drove back to the house, I reflected on the day and thought about dad. I also thought of my son Alex. As some of you know, I started teaching him to flyfish a few years ago, just as my dad taught me when I was his age. Passing on the outdoors traditions to the next generation you could say is just as important as anything else one can do in a sport like fly fishing. He will start hunting this season as well. That was always a big step for a young man or lady in their lives. It’s when you learned about life and death, how and when to take it, why we preserve it as well as its finality. Alex will learn about these things. I admit it, every day with Alex is an adventure. He is just so intense sometimes. I give it a few years, and he will be fly fishing circles around me. And maybe someday, if he has a boy, that boy will learn to fly fish and hunt like his fathers before him. Maybe someday…..
TO BE CONTINUED...