Hustle and Bustle of September

As I sit here gazing out the window, the snow continues to fall and I contemplate that 
our first snow here in the Valley is today, only the 5th day of November.  To many this may seem late, but here in the Valley, we may go all year without snowfall (well at least in those years we are lucky!) With the obvious signs of winter setting in, I think back to the past few months—
Summer fishing was so-so…with rather high water temperatures and relatively low water levels, we were able to seal the deal on a good number of native cutthroats, but far less than what we came to expect from our exploits last fall. 
As September set in, we hit the ground running as mentors for the annual KCF Women’s Clinic.   As always, this was a great time and a great experience!  With just over a year fishing under my belt, I made the leap and decided to be a mentor this year rather than a participant.  It was during this trip, that I realized actual amount of knowledge I had gained over the past year.
We returned that Monday from the Women’s Clinic outing, in a rush to get my gear repacked for the very first Trout Chicks trip.  A group of 10 of us women, that have met through various blogs, emails and FB pages decided to meet up for a weekend of fishing and fun on the legendary Henry’s Fork!
(Photo by JB McCollum http://www.jbmccollum.com/)
 This weekend provided me some amazing opportunities to fish with some new friends, experience fishing from an Adipose drift boat, and even some new culinary adventures for us sheltered type folk.  It was truly a once in a lifetime trip for me, and I thank those individuals that made it possible, both Michelle and Shelley.  These two ladies busted their a$$es to make this a simply epic (yes, epic! Because that is the cool fly fishing lingo) trip!  Again, I returned home that Monday and Brian had already started getting our gear together for our annual trip to the North Fork of the Clearwater.  As much as I enjoyed the first two trips in September, I was dearly looking forward to this trip.  Brian and I have made it a sort of annual outing towards the end of September, to fish the North Forkand camp.  This year, our annual trip was expected to be more enjoyable as we had our camper to retire to for those chilly September nights.  The forecast was not looking good, the days prior to the trip—a forecast full of rain and cold weather was not what I was hoping for, but that is exactly what was delivered!  The fishing was more what we expected for the area this time.  The hoppers were still out in force, and the typical caddis and BWO activity made for some nice dry fly fishing.  Brian was even able to hook up and bring to hand a fish we had been targeting since early in the month at the Women’s Clinic. 

The day of my birthday, I chose to head up river to Kelly Creek.  We have fished Kelly Creeka number of times; never seeming to have much luck…and this day was no different.  It was pouring out, so we decided to call it a day and head back to camp.  Being as determined as we are, and having an extremely leaky camper to return to, we decided to hit the water right in front of Flat Camp.  It is usually good for at least a few fish.  By now, it was literally pouring out.  I expected the thunder and lightning to start any time, which would officially put an end to the day…but it never did come, just rain and more rain.  I waded out fairly far, casting some larger bugs but having no luck.  I then noticed some fish rising to the surface not 15 feet away.  Try as I might I could not see what they were hitting on.  I tried various flies…cast after cast, it seemed as though they were pushing mine out of the way for this unseen treat!  It was about 7 different flies in, that a tiny BWO flitted by amongst the rain drops.  I never would have imagined that they would be hitting BWOs in such a downpour, but alas…that is exactly what they were doing!  I tied on a tiny BWO with my frozen hands.  First cast…nothing… second cast…FISH ON!  It was a nice size cutty that at least took the skunking out of my birthday!  Fish continued to rise all around me-in front of the large submerged boulders.  I hollered to Brian to tie on a BWO—and shortly he was catching fish left and right.  At one point, we both had a fish on.  Usually, when we have a double hook up, it always results in one of us losing the fish…we had up until this point, never had two in hand at the same time!  Today was the day though!  We were both able to net our quarry and get them together for a rough photo shot.

This was the best birthday present I could have asked for!  Being in the pouring rain, with my fishing partner, a double hook up to net and more fish on the way!  Eventually the fishing died down and we headed back to our leaky accommodations.

My fishing buddies! Love them!
All three of them! For “city” dogs-they sure adapted to fly dogs fairly well! Even Muzzy was trying to wade the river this trip!
One of the beauties from the trip! It jumped clear out of the water when it took my stimulator!  Not even a second after the fly landed in the water!  It was the most amazing “take” so far!
Oh….and I have come to LOVE bugs!  Never never ever thought I would say that!  Just love them! They are so damn cool!
Oh, and one last cool Pic I snapped of the Clearwater at Pink House—-just like the pic 🙂
And one of my fly doggies…Beman Jethro Bodean…so brave for a dog that wouldn’t jump 6″ of water 2 ft wide in the spring! We have come a long ways in just a few trips!
This one just makes me giggle… old age and treachery will outdo youth and enthusiasm every time!  I can just see that is what Muzzy is thinking at this point!

The St. Joe … A love, Hate relationship

If you follow our blog, we are glad that you do; if you don’t we would sure like it if you did!

   You can see from past blogs April (Elk hunt 2011) and (Stonefly’s, BWO’s and lessons learned—spring fishing on The Joe), what I mean by I have a love hate relationship with the St. Joe. There are a couple other things that make the St. Joe hard to love and that is the fact that after the spring runoff you are never alone on the weekends and the St. Joe has one of the largest “tube hatches” around.

   Well in July it worked out that I had a long weekend after the 4th so I figured that as I had Monday the 8thof July off and most everyone else would have to be back to work I decided that it was time that the Joe and I have another go at it.
   I was up and out the door and 3hrs later rigged up and on the water above the town of Avery, with no one else in sight. The first place I stopped I notice several Stoneflies fluttering about and hooked into a few decent fish and after a little bit I move on up the river to the next likely looking place to fish. It had a nice little gravel beach and a deep run between two riffles.
  I decided to start just above the lower riffle and work my way up to the next one.  With a Stimulator tied on, I had a very slow start.  With only 3 fish landed, I waded out as far as I dared into belly deep water so that I could cast over the current to the other side of a great looking seam.  A beautiful drag free drift of my fly and a huge mouth swam from the depths to engulf my fly.  I raised my rod and set the hook; gave a war cry and the fight was on. There is nothing in this world like the sound when a fish is peeling drag. The fish first ran for cover behind a large rock down below, I put right side pressure on it and began moving myself to shallower water. The fish decided he wanted to go below the large riffle to the next pool so with left side pressure and me in hot pursuit (I don’t run for most things, but this I ran for); I finally convinced the fish he needed to stay in this pool.
So with his mind changed the fish decided that he would charge me, reeling as fast as I could and some more fast foot work, he took off for the other side of the river again. More screaming reel and more side pressure finally with this beast in shallower and slower water I got him in the net.
   With a quick set up of the camera I did manage to get a few pictures of this, my biggest fish to date an 18” beauty that I caught on my new 4 weight rod.
I saw a total of 6 other fisherman on the water and no “tube hatch.” I landed and released a great fish and was headed home to tell Britt all about the day I had on the Joe. Might even say I got myself a little payback for April.
Until next time;
 Bent rods and screaming drags.

A year in photos….My first year of fly fishing

The Lochsa-Day 1
Brian and Dale and I fishing on the Lochsa 2012
We hit the NF of the Clearwater the weekend after the Lochsa–one of my very first fish!
Brian’s first of many on the NF
First time fishing Kelly Creek before the Womens Clinic
My first one on Kelly Creek
So glad I finally got a new less frumpy vest! 
Fishing Cayuse Creek at the Womens Clinic
Went back up for a elk camp turned fishing trip on the NF–went back to Cayuse and caught this pretty little fish!
Right out in front of camp!  
One of my favorite pictures from all year….I miss the river
Atop the bridge at the end of the “road”-Kelly Creek 2012
Brian’s fish from out in front of camp
Gettin a truck made it soooo much easier!
Love when the Caddis are on!
Went up to the Joe for some early season fishing–it was tough but I got one!
There were even a couple salmonflies out!
Brian had bad JuJu on the Joe this time…
Decided to head up to Kelly Creek to try out the camper—waters still a tad high…
So we fished Mosse Creek
Gotta watch that back cast “face”
Beman trying his darndest to be a fly dog..
Hanging out @ camp with our NEW Camper!  REALLY makes things easier!
Travelled up to the NF of the Coeur d’Alene–caught a couple nice ones…
Still lovin the camper ❤
And the resident moose, Matilda
Hit Elk River Reservoir while I had a bum foot in the Pontoon…
And Brian hit the creek for some brookie
I love Idaho—It is beautiful no matter where you go or end up!
We went back to the Joe—and Brian made it cry! Litterally!  What a slab!
My fish of the day on none other than the Black Betty!
Lovin Life!
Creek X off of the Lochsa—LOVE LOVE LOVE it!
Brian and Dale horsing around…
One of my first steelhead smolt!
A great one from Creek X
Even in love when pickin up trash…haha
One of Brian’s fish recovering in a slow area…
I just love this picture 🙂  It makes me giggle…
And here it is…  one year later, and I return to the exact same spot I caught my first fish.
No one was holding my hand, I knew where to cast, how to set the hook, how to net it (even if it was only a shrimp fish!)
Oh, and it was on a Purple Haze I tied myself!!

High water and solitude on Kelly Creek


A few weeks ago we decided to take the camper out for a “test drive” so to speak, up on the NF of the Clearwater.  We knew the water would be really high still, but thought, what the hell—I can honestly say we will probably never again have the entire Kelly Creek to ourselves!  The few folks out there looked at us like we were loco…we eventually did see another rig with rods strapped to the hood so it was nice to know we weren’t the only crazies out there! 

We hit Moose Creek first, since it looked more fishable—I hooked into and landed a really nice Cut eventually…but the fiesty little guy flopped out before we got a picture—lesson learned today–I need to work on my fish holding skills–quite frankly, I suck at it.


We brought the dogs with us this trip, to see how they would do in the camper and hanging out riverside while we fished.  They did better than I thought they might…only running off a little ways at a time.  Muzzy was in heaven—of course he would have been happier if we were going for a  hike rather than fishing.  Beman was a little hesitant but did okay.  He wouldn’t cross the small, shallow side channels though…for a dog that LOVES the sprinklers, he is scared to death of slightly moving water.  With a lot of coaxing and coercing, we finally got him to cross–but he sure didn’t appreciate it much!
Having the camper was such an amazing change of pace to our old tent and mattress pads on the ground days…the weather was nice, so we didn’t have to hole up in it to stay dry or anything like that.  To be able to wake up in the morning and actually feel rested where you slept all night was AWESOME!    Cooking on the stove was great, and Beman sure got tuckered out and was able to crash comfortably on our bed.

We caught a few fish—nothing stellar, but they were good fish and on dry flies no less!  

Oh—-and for those that like the flora/fauna….the butterflies were amazing!  They were everywhere!

I also found my first “lost” fly box…unfortuantely for whomever lost it, they didn’t put their name in it—the box was pretty beat up and all the flies were damaged/rusted out from sitting up there all winter… I did find it amazing that there was a husk in it from a critter long gone…now hows that for irony!!

Rabid dogs, Bongs and Gang signs…oh and a camper!

For the last few weeks, I had been diligently looking on craigslist for an affordable camper for the upcoming fishing season—–tired of man handling the air mattress around each night in the tent to blow it up, just to wake up half way through the night cold and on the hard ground…and for those of you not here in Idaho…the ground is hard…..rock, hard.  I located an older one that was in Kennewick Washington, a mere 2.5 hours away.  Since Brian was working swing shift, I opted to make the drive by myself to scope things out…no one seemed to like the idea of me looking at it solo…which I do appreciate 🙂  Dale was nice to have one of his friends that lives in the Tri-Cities meet me there to look at the camper.



I ended up following the traveling MRI machine the whole way —at first I thought, oh great…this is going to take forever if I am stuck behind it —-but damn did it Haul!  I figured I could draft it and save some gas money—and it could take out any critters that wandered out into the road for me 🙂



I finally made it to Kennewick and was thrilled to find out that I didn’t have to really drive in the “big” part of town—-whew….all that stressing for nothing.  Dale’s friend was already there when I pulled in and had scoped the camper out…he gave me his blessing on it, and I started to check it out for myself.  It was pretty much just as the pics showed and I decided we’d go for it—sure as hell beats our tent!    This was Tuesday…and we wouldn’t be able to pick it up until Saturday when we had the day off….the week went by so slooooow…..but Saturday finally arrived.

On my way home—I was flying pretty high (not THAT kind of high–mind you I was in Washington, LMAO!)—-as I rounded a corner out in the middle of nowhere there was a pack of about 12 rabid Great Pyrenees dogs in the road.  As they bit at my bumper, I had no way to get away from them—short of running them over—-now that thought crossed my mind—as a dog lover, I just didn’t have it in me…and I was also in fear for my vehicle–Pyrenees are damn big dogs and I am pretty sure it would have done a number on the Sportage… FINALLY, about a mile later….the two lead dogs backed off just enough for me to floor it!  GONE! At least when I’m in Idaho, its usually cows, horses or a stray peacock in the road..not big, mean, rabid dogs!

We left a dreary, raining Valley with hopes that the weather might improve as we headed further west.  Even with the dreary weather, I was still able to snap a neat reflection picture of the Snake River as we left Clarkston.

 
Not long after that, we topped out on Alpowa, and the weather improved….it was beautiful up there!
 
Had to stop for a coffee and P break….and I happened to notice that they had **check this** TWO, only TWO maple bars left!  Now I had it in my mind for some reason that I did not like maple bars…I don’t know why, because I can’t think of a time that I had ever tried one.  Since moving to Idaho, I have learned one thing…don’t get between these folks and their maple bars!  I took it as a sign, and we tossed them in with the coffee order… to my delight…they were absolutely finger lickin delicious!!
 
 
 


We finally made it to Kennewick and the Columbia River….
 
….as we were crossing the bridge, we saw a couple of cars flashing Gang sign to each other….  well that just made me feel warm and fuzzy inside…
 
 
Luckily they must have been homies “waving” to each other in their gang-speak….since we didn’t get shot up in the process….yes…loving the Tri-Cities so far…staring to understand why everyone was a tad bit concerned about me going over there alone!


 
On an up note, I finally got to see the Columbia River—it is HUGE 🙂  Not exceptionally pretty at this point, but it was still neat to see a new river!  I also saw a few smaller ones on the way over (namely, the Touchet and the Tucannon) that looked like they might warrant some research on the fishing opportunities available…













Since it was time for a P break again, I took Brian to a nice truck stop that was close to where the camper was located.  I had stopped there Tuesday when I made my solo trip.  We use the facilities and as we are checking out…..we notice they have a rather large selection of bongs and pot pipes…It is simply amazing the cultural experience that you can get in just one day and a 2.5 hour drive!  Holy crap batman!






We finally  get to Kirk & Naomi’s place and get hooked onto the trailer…  Kirk shows Brian the ins-and-outs of the trailer while us women do the paperwork.  Within a 1/2 hour we are back on our way out of Kennewick.









On the way out of town I was able to snap a quick pic of where the Snake River empties into the Columbia—kind of neat seeing where the river through town ends up!





 Oh—and check this out—its almost flat-ish over that direction!













Great news is…the truck towed the camper!  I was a little concerned since we didn’t really know the weight of the camper!  She pulled it like a champ up and down Alpowa…and even with the wind, it wasn’t bad at all!






 
 
Made it home safe, and it seems as though the “other” family members will be just fine with the idea of a camper!  
(it was so worth the trips—even taking into consideration the rabid dogs, gang members, bongs and windy ass weather!!–can’t wait for our first trip out in it!)

Elk Hunt 2011

As Brittany mentioned in the last Blog we went hunting for Elk in the St. Joe drainage around the Calder area. And I did get a nice lead cow. What a great time a long time dream fulfilled. So I thought I’d post the story, I never get tired of telling it to be honest with you. So here is the story of our 2011 Elk hunt.
Elk Season 2011, a time my wife/hunting partner and I had been looking forward to for many years. Having moved to Idaho from Michigan we had the waiting period to become residents and then job commitments to fill but the time was finally here.
September 6th arrived and after I got off of work we headed out 3 hours north of our home to the location we had picked for our first ever Elk hunt. We had spent time in June and August scouting the mountain drainage and knew the elk were there as well as whitetail and mule deer, which we also had tags for.
We arrived at our area to set up camp with just enough time to get the tent up and get settled in for the night. With the building excitement of the next morning sleep was sparse to say the least. The next morning we got up and headed to our glassing location. We saw several whitetail deer but no elk, so we spent the rest of our first day wandering the mountain and calling. Evening came with us back to the glassing spot only to see more deer.

After two more days of the same, we decided to move camp farther in to the drainage closer to a very good creek that ran through the valley, thinking that with the temperatures in the mid 90’s, water was the best place to find our prize. The first afternoon we relaxed, we shot at our target to get limbered up and keep tuned in.  That evening we explored our new area for sign and listened for any calling as the pre rut should be going according to the calendar.
The morning of September 10th we had decided to walk down a logging road that followed the creek, to see if we could see anything catching a drink, before we heading back into the mountains and the dark timber for the day. We headed north toward where the logging road intersected with the creek and another logging road.After walking about ¾ of a mile down the logging road my wife Brittany saw a place she wanted to go and sit along the creek just to see if anything came in it. So I left her to sit and I continued down the logging road still hunting around every bend to see what if anything was at the water’s edge.
I walked all the way down to where the logging roads intersect but saw nothing until my return trip to camp for breakfast and coffee. As I came over a small rise I spooked some respectable whitetail does, with no shot opportunity and being caught out in the open, I continued on my way to meet back up with my wife.
When I got close to the place I had left her, I bird called to see if she was ready to head back to camp. She responded, but from further down the trail. I met her about another 50 yards down the trail and reported back what I had seen on my outing and listened to her morning experience.
Brittany told me she had seen a cow and calf come running down an active logging road across the creek and then barreled through the creek down from where she sat.  She had made her way to where she thought she could intercept them and had cow called but could not get them to slow down and up the mountain they ran.
At the end of her recap, we heard some branches breaking up the mountain about 40 yards.  When I looked toward the sound I saw two heads through an opening in the branches. At first I thought it was the cow and calf moose we had seen the evening before, but then a third animal passed through the opening and I could see that it was a group of elk.

I immediately nocked an arrow and when the lead cow stepped out, I estimated the range at 30 yards and settled my pin on her, not seconds later I released my arrow.  She wheeled to the right and back up the mountain she ran. I started fumbling for my diaphragm call and Brittany started cow calling with her mouth. To our surprise she got six responses. Just then a herd of about twenty cows and calves with one small spike bull poured down from the mountain about another forty yards down the trail, crossing over towards the creek.We heard them splash across the creek and thunder up the mountain on the other side of the drainage. We then began to look for my arrow and blood. Although we did not find my arrow we did find a little blood 20yards up the mountain side where my cow had joined back up with the heard. We decided that we would give her some time, go back to camp and get some food and shed our jackets as the day was warming back up. We continued on our way back to camp. While walking down the logging road I looked to the left toward the creek and could not believe what I saw lying there. Barely fifty yards from where I had arrowed my first Elk, that I had dreamed of hunting for since I was a small boy, was my cow.This pretty much says it all.

 She had not followed the herd across the creek but had turned to go back up the mountain she had originally come down from. Unfortunately I can not upload the video I wanted to, it shows how the elk had expired not 10 yrds off of the old logging road and about half a mile from camp.I cannot explain how much enchantment and satisfaction I felt at that moment; and to have shared it all with my best hunting companion! It was all we could have hoped for and more!


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 flies..so 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 😀  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
Britt

Women’s Clinic-2012



It was finally time… I had been waiting all year for the Womens Clinic with KCF.    As we drove up the river road…we saw all the amazing Kokanee looking like little bolts of fire beneath the waters surface.  I had never seen Kokanee before, so it was great watching them chase each other around.  Someday I WILL catch one of the little buggers.  

We got to camp early enough on Friday, so we got the tent set up and headed out for a few hours of fishing.  Sandie was nice enough to direct us to a perfect spot for our little tent…view of the river and all!
We headed up Kelly Creek to take a look around and scope out some areas for Brian to take his student the next day.  We finally settled on an area and hit the water.  We both hooked into a few fish…  It was awesome finally being able to fish our Club’s namesake and catch fish on it!  It is an amazing fishery!
The next day, it was time to head out with my mentor, Saker.  He decided to go away from the “crowds” and take me to Cayuse Creek.  It was a bit of a drive, but so very worth it. What I found to be the most important lesson of the day, was that Saker taught me how to read the water, and where to look for trout.  This knowledge has already helped me be a better fisher, and will continue as I hone my actual skills.  If I can find the fish, then I can practice casting, playing and netting fish even more. 
Saker-an amazing fly fisher (and Bailey–a great dog!)
Cayuse Creek

The hole that I have a vendetta with…more to come on this later.
Saker even let me use his bamboo
rod–it was a little scary, but man
it was nice!!

Around the “fire” that night (okay, it was a group of solar lights, since there were fire restrictions and campfires weren’t allowed) it was time to tell our fish tales.
This is where that hole on Cayuse comes in…  there was a monster of a fish in that hole!  And to my knowledge, he may still be there! I sure as heck didn’t pull him out—although it wasn’t for lack of opportunity!  I tied on a big ugly, and floated it through…and WHAM it hit….and I played it for a little bit, but it shook the hook…being rather inexperienced…I was all geeked up, but tossed the fly back in the hole.  I was looking at Saker for instruction on what to do next, when BAM, it hit again…but I wasn’t looking that direction…so didn’t get a hook set.  And what did I do next…again, I look to Saker for input…and yet again, I had tossed the fly back in..and it hit again! Not once, not twice, but three times and I couldn’t make good on it!  
LESSON OF THE YEAR:  IF YOUR FLY IS IN THE WATER, YOU BEST BE WATCHING IT

This summer, I was very fortunate to have some wonderful mentors that got me on the right track.  
First and foremost, my Husband Brian, for getting me interested and having the patience required to teach me (and of course loaning me gear/flies/and his ear).  
To Saker, for having patience with me that day on Cayuse, and teaching me the true basics of fly fishing~~because of you, I have confidence that I can find trout…even when there are miles and miles and miles of “spots” to choose from.
And to Dale, for taking me by the hand, literally, that day up on the Lochsa, teaching me to cast (and cook), welcoming us with open arms to the KCF Family, and sticking with us through all the Board & NIFFE stuff and so much more.  Most importantly for being our friend!
Now the decision for next year is…do I participate again…or do I mentor…?????  

North Fork of the Clearwater

We decided to drive out to the North Fork of the Clearwater for a day trip.  On the way out of town, we ran over to Chris’ house to pick up some flies he offered to let us have, since we hadn’t fished it before, and it is his all time favorite place to go.  It seemed like it took us FOREVER to get there!  Eventually the river came into view and we found a likely looking spot not too far up. 

This was my 2nd time out, only a week or so after we hit the Lochsa with KCF.  With this in mind, I kept close to Brian so he could help if I needed it.  After a little while, I had a strike!   I was able to play the fish successfully and brought it to net.  This was the first fish of any real size I had hooked into.  It wasn’t huge, but man did it fight!  The only thing I could relate it to at the time, and even still, as far as how it felt, was when I arrowed my first deer.  The adrenalin rush was amazing! and addicting!  The big difference though, is I have one deer tag….I can catch a zillion fish day in and day out…and get that feeling!  I do believe it was this point, that bowhunting took a back seat in my life and fly fishing took over.   Don’t get me wrong, I still love bowhunting, and hunting in general, I love meat in the freezer and it still gives me a chance to be in the wild…but it just isn’t the same!  When I fish, there is no pressure to “fill the freezer” or make good on a tag and avoid the dreaded “tag soup” at the end of the year.  If I net it, great! If I don’t, then it was still a blast and I can cast again!

This was my first one on the North Fork–and yes, I cried…!!!
This was a little guy shortly after the 1st one!

After Brian helped me get these two to net, he headed upstream to hit the next hole.  He brought in another nice one….so nice that it even glows! Not sure what the deal was with the lighting and the camera…but at least we got a pic of it! 🙂

This was just a quick day trip to try out our new boots and break ourselves in on the North Fork—there will be many more day trips up there, and little did we know…we would scrap Elk Season to spend two weeks in late September later in the year!
 Best friends make the best spouses…and the best spouses make the best fishing buddy!!

First time on the Lochsa…and Britts first go at fly fishing!




It was July 21st, 2012.  Our company from back east had headed for home the day before the Lochsa outing…which meant Yes! We were going to be able to go after all   The day before, we had a bit of inclement weather…a hail storm/minor flood…so we were hoping it would stay clear for our first trip out to the Lochsa. Nothing like Idaho in July!

I had never been out fly fishing before, with the exception of a few casts on Marble Creek last summer when we were supposed to be scouting for deer…but couldn’t pass up some fishing…  I was nervous as heck, it was our first real outing with the Kelly Creek Flycasters—so there would be a whole bunch of new people, and then of course…I knew hardly anything about fly fishing…or fishing in general really!

We drove up and finally made it to the campground around noon.  
We pulled in (thankfully camp was easy to find!)

Dale, our club president was just about to head out for the day, and was kind enough to extend an offer to us to tag along with him.  We had never been up there before, and there is literally miles and miles of river to choose from.  We gladly accepted his offer, and off we went. 
We quickly found out that new gear was in order.  Our lug-sole waders we brought from Michigan just did not play well with the rocky bottom of the Lochsa.   Dale set us up in a spot where it was pretty easy wading, and all three of us could keep close. 
Between Brian and Dale, literally taking my arm and teaching me to cast, I was able to catch my first fish on a fly.  It wasn’t a huge one, and it turned into an aerial fish—as it flew past my body into the depths behind me, but it was official…I WAS HOOKED.  And thus, it started…

KCF put on a great dinner that night, and I got my first experience at Dutch Oven cooking. Dale taught me to make a yummy cherry cobbler type cake.  The highway cleanup was set for Sunday morning, so we unfortunately didn’t get to help with it, as all we had was the day.  Next year, we will be doing a 4 day weekend I think…lots of fishing, recreating and helping pick up!

Its hard for me to believe that a year ago, I had never fly fished. I had never spent time on a river in complete solitude with the single goal of tricking a fish into striking…cutting my teeth on the Lochsa was a bit intimidating, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way!  I had two schooled veterans teaching me the ropes, and a nice feast to come back to that night!    If they only knew what they had unleashed! 🙂  
Since that summer day on the Lochsa, it has been full throttle ever since!  I now sit on the Board as Secretary for the Kelly Creek Flycasters, and we have just helped successfully put  on the North Idaho Fly Fishing Expo.  Pair that up with taking my first fly tying class…and I’d say I am on the right track in life.  It sounds like the rivers and roads to them are finally thawing out some…the time of the trout has returned to North Idaho!