Stoneflys, BWO’s and lessons learned—spring fishing on The Joe

We finally made it out on one of the local rivers Saturday—we drove about 2.5 hours north to the St Joe—we knew it would be high, but figured we’d try it anyways… after all—even a bad day of fishing is better than a day at work—and luckily it was both our days off—so no matter what–it was going to be a damn good day!  It sprinkled most of the way up, but looked like it might go either way…I was hoping for it to clear up…but alas, sunshine was not on our side that day.  We drove up to a campground that we knew would be easy access, since we haven’t fished the Joe much…and certainly not in the Spring.  Geared up and went on down…  the river was swift, really swift!  If you got out much past knee deep it felt like it would just take you away down river.  With that in mind, I uncharacteristically held close to the bank.  Brian waded a bit further out–but eventually kept closer to the bank as well.

 We ended up on the south end of the campground and still hadn’t had so much as a bite.  This spring fishing is different—and we haven’t quite figured it all out yet!  It was the first time I have fished anything but dry that in and of itself was a learning process.  After a bit, I got a nice tree hooked behind me about 15 feet up.  Yep—doesn’t matter what time of the year it is…I hook trees.  They sure aren’t as fun as fish, but they sure are more plentiful! Ended up breaking it off and decided to tie on a beat up old Chernobyl. While I was tying it on..I had the privilege of watching some mule deer feed on the opposite bank.   This is one of the reasons I LOVE fly fishing.  Even when you aren’t actively fishing…you get to see the most amazing things–in the most amazing places.  
 Brian had wandered downstream out of my sight, so I figured I better go check and make sure he hadn’t washed away.  To my delight, he hadn’t and he had found a nice little island with a channel of water flowing over it into a deep pool where fish were rising.  
A few casts out and WHAM…fish on!  I am still so new to this, and have a tendency to want to muscle the fish in…which usually results in the fish winning and me coming up empty.  I played the fish—it wanted line, so I gave it some—eventually it was close—so close!  Brian grabbed his net and in it went!  SCORE one for the World Leader Board!   
Yep—thats my “fish” face
While we were at this hole–Brian felt something on the back of his neck. He reached back and WHOA…look what he found!

 This was the first stonefly that I had seen.  Brian handed it off to me to inspect–they are the most amazing bugs.  I have to admit, I am NOT a bug person..but since I have started fly fishing..I have developed a much greater interest in entomology as it relates to the fish world!   Now I understand why trout love them so much!  If they get one, they wouldn’t have to eat for a week! They are huge!

While we were at this hole, I noticed some bug activity in the air around me—before long, there were blue winged olives flitting about all over—I had never witnessed a “hatch” before either—and here it was!  It almost looked like it was snowing there were so many!    Guess I should have taken the time the day before to tie up some BWOs—we had a few that were close matches, but nothing exact–and the fish sure weren’t liking what we were throwing at them.   After awhile, we decided to break for a late lunch and head back to the truck.

After lunch, we headed back to the island at the southern end of the campground with intentions of wading further down.    I stopped to fish a side seam created by the runoff, while Brian headed further down.  Soon thereafter, Brian was headed back my way with a much less than thrilled look on his face.  Of course I asked how it was over where he was at….not noticing that his 9′ rod was oh, about 7.5′ at present.  I guess this is something that just happens.  Eventually, you will break a rod…sooner or later.  The rod had broke about 1.5′ down from the tip—on an up note, it was just the 4th “piece”—and St Croix has replacements for that part—so it can be salvaged.  The lesson for today though, was always bring a backup rod….  so we shall work on that one for next time!

That morning, I had joking said “Wouldn’t it be funny if I caught fish and you (Brian) got skunked!”…okay…I was JOKING—- apparently the fishing Gods took me seriously though…Brian has a beef with the Joe ever since he got that elk a couple years ago that was gracious enough to land in a perfectly easily accessible area.  We knew he’d pay for that for years to come…but we really didn’t think it’d carry over into fishing up there!!  Not sure how we are going to appease those that rule the St Joe valley—but we must find a way!  We can’t afford to go up there again at this rate! LOL.

All in all, we had an awesome day—even considering it was cold, wet and frustrating re:equipment failures.  At least we got out of the Valley…and got to try out Spring fishing….oh and I caught an AWESOME fish πŸ˜€  Can’t wait to get back out!

Oh—and we saw ELK!!!  They were all lounging around like a bunch of lazy cows!! in the cow pasture!  The first pic is in the St Joe valley—the second one is closer to Bovill!  We never see elk!  There were a zillion whitetail and mule deer, and a whole bunch of elk—didn’t see a moose though—which is odd-usually we do on our trips up there!

Can’t wait for our next trip to the Joe!!

~Strong knots & tight lines

3 thoughts on “Stoneflys, BWO’s and lessons learned—spring fishing on The Joe

  1. Just because you \”Have it made\”, there is no need to boast! Water looked great, and I can hardly wait to check it out. Hoping I'm always a welcome guest!


  2. Hey, Brit and Brian: So nice to see the two of you fishing and having fun together. As you already know, the 'Boss' has a new twist…coming later this season…, and I'm BACK, building bamboo rods. Love it. I will stay in touch, but if I get really busy, bring me back to the woods and water, o.k.? Thanks again to the two of you. T.D.


  3. Tony, You are always welcome in our camp! πŸ™‚ We are so lucky to live out here and be able to go out together and most of all have fun. Can't imagine the Tippet Boss being any better–but right on! I see a gear review in my future!! I have only used a bamboo rod once..for a few minutes…but DAMN they are nice πŸ˜€ As summer gets here, hopefully we'll have more posts–so keep an eye out whenever u need a \”break\”.


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