Scouting and Fishing
by Les Albjerg
Elk are in the woods across meadow
Yesterday was supposed to be spent looking for elk. If you look at picture number two, I carefully walked to the edge of the ridge and low and behold there were 42 elk across the meadow! I found 2 other herds yesterday. So much for retrieving my trail camera since it was surrounded by a herd of elk! Time to go fishing! On August 30th bow hunting for elk begins! We are hunting in the Sawtooth mountains near Stanley, Idaho.
I had never fished Valley Creek. So now that elk had been spotted at location one, it was time to go fishing. I decided that it was going to be a Tenyru fishing day. I began, the afternoon actually, with the Tenyru Furaibo TF39 Becchou. I headed down to the public access point since most of Valley Creek runs through private property. As I got there, a guy was just leaving. He said, "don't bother there aren't any fish." I at least wanted to see the creek. I walked down, crossed the rickety bridge and wow was it running low and clear. I stood in a good spot, but saw no fish under the bridge. It is a nice looking creek! I walked down about a quarter of a mile and found a really nice bend with a pretty good looking hole. After standing still by a willow, I saw several trout working the bottom! It was time to head back to the SUV and rig up!
I tied on a Kebari, and ended up resorting to bad habits! Forty plus years of fly fishing are hard to overcome! I made a sweet cast, and then let the line lay down on the water just like a fly line. No response by the fish. Duh! it was drag city! The second cast, get the line up! A nice drag free presentation. Two flashes at the fly, and no hook-up. Third cast, same response. It is time to let these guys rest. I moved on. I found a nice horseshoe bend! It had three nice holes. The first hole, a nice cast, good drift, fish on! All of a sudden, the Beechou began to sing! The Nishijin weave graphite really makes a loud baritone song! I was laughing so hard, I almost didn't land the nice 14 inch Westslope Cutthroat. I horsed the next fish and broke off.
So, it was time to see how the Beechou worked fishing "The Ultralight Worm" method. I put on a Red Wiggler and drifted it through the seam, and I thought, "nothing", and then Wham, fish on, horsed it and broke off! Time to settle down Les. I moved further down the bend, and on the second cast, I caught a nice 15 inch Cutthroat. I went to pull my phone out of my back pocket, and it was a spare spool of line! Sorry no pictures. I lost two more fish.
It was time to move on and scout my last spot for elk. One the way back, I hit the first spot again. As I eyed the area for the best approach, I heard a lot of splashing. My first thought was, "Oh great here comes another fisherman wading in the creek." I looked up river and in the riffles I saw two large fins working the gravel! I set my rod down and worked up the bank behind a pine tree and watched a male and female salmon making a redd. I won't complain about the drive from Boise to Portland ever again. These two fish swam up the Columbia River, up the Snake River, over 8 dams on that system and then up the Salmon river almost to the headwaters. They then swam their last 15 miles or so to this riffle in Valley Creek to spawn. I stood there amazed for about 20 minutes.
I had my angle figured out, so I made a nice cast with a Red Wiggler, and caught another 14 inch Cutthroat. Four caught 8 lost in about an hour of fishing. My rod sang me a song 10 times!
So an hour drive over two mountain passes got me within 10 minutes of a spot on one of my favorite streams that I have never fished. I spotted 3 elk as I checked this area out. Time to fish! This time, I fished with the Tenyru Rayz Spectra RZS51LL and JDM spoons and plugs.
It is a good thing to get to know your area State Fish and Game biologist. He told me about this section of the 34 mile stream. We were talking about the distain for brook trout in Idaho. I got educated. They were a native trout to Northern Minnesota where I grew up. I learned how they love to eat the native species fry. I have a son who eats fish twice a week due to a digestive issue. It is one of the few proteins he can have. I didn't feel guilty harvesting a few. (I brought 9 home, the limit is 25) The biologist told me they electro-shock the area I was fishing, and if there are too many brook trout, they toss them on the bank.
I had a "many" fish 3 hours. I caught rainbows, cutthroat, and brook trout. I began with a gold 2.5 gram Daiwa Crusader Spoon. I found casting to the bottom of the riffles and working the spoon through the deeper seams or pools resulted in a fish. I waited too long to re-tie and lost a spoon. So, I thought to myself, "I didn't buy those JDM plugs just to take up space in a box." I tied one on and in the next pool, I had a big fish on! I had it right up to me, my net was less than 4 inches from the fish and it rolled snapping my 2.5 pound line and swam off with my $10.00 plus plug! So off came the Shimano Cardiff, and on went my other Shimano with 4 pound test line.
I was in that magic hour for fishing, the last hour of sunlight. I had never fished the Shimano Slim Swimmer Spoons that I bought, so I tied the silver one on. I headed up to the next pool, and caught 3 twelve inch fish out of the pool, one brookie and two cutts. It was getting dark, I had the "just one more pool" fever going on. I headed up to the next pool, and made a pin point cast about 2 feet below the riffle. I began a slow retrieve and Wham! a fish hit. My spool didn't move. Had it gotten loose? Was I snagged? Snags don't shake! Line began peeling off pretty fast! The trout headed up the riffle! The Spectra had the backbone to turn it! Brook trout aren't suppose to jump, this one did! Three times. She then headed for a seam, and tried to use the current to her advantage. The Tenyru top half had enough flexibility to help keep the barbless hook engaged. (This a barbless artificial lure only stream.) I almost had her to the net and I just knew there would be another run. After about a 9 yard run, I turned her for good, and she was in the net!
This is the biggest Brook trout I have ever caught in a stream, 18 inches measured. It was one of the most thrilling fish battles I have enjoyed. This feather-light rod has more backbone and sensitivity that any rod I have ever fished with. It was a nice way to end the day. Even though there wasn't anyone around to see it, I had a big smile on my face as I tromped the 40 minutes out of the woods back to the SUV.
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” – Benjamin Franklin
"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." Col. Robert Venables 1662
As age slows my pace, I will become more like the heron.
The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.
Beware of the Dogma