The rain…oh my gosh, the rain…did I mention the rain? In a mere 24 hours over 2 inches of the “R” stuff bled from the skies and it was not done yet. Thirty-six hours after I’d enjoyed an epic fishing adventure in gin-clear water at a manageable 1,170cfs, the river now resembled chocolate milk raging at 14,700cfs. This, however, is a common occurrence in the spring on freestone rivers.
Three days earlier… Rugby, my 100lb yellow lab and I, jumped in the Tundra and headed 5 hours west in pursuit of Idaho’s wild, native West Slope Cutthroat Trout. I learned from friends that Pat and Mike, owners of Northwest Outfitters in Coeur d’ Alene (CDA) are friendly, knowledgeable and “fishy” dudes. Once there, I quickly briefed them on my intent and they directed me to the CDA River 30 minutes east of CDA. We also planned a trip to the St Joe for the following week.
An hour later I was reeling in my first CDA River West Slope cutthroat as Rugby swam circles around me, as eager as I was to see this beautiful specimen. In Idaho, West Slope trout are in a protected class and are catch and release only. These wild, naturally reproducing fish must be returned to the water immediately. The fish were incredibly beautiful, had broad shoulders and put up a great fight. (Mike and Pat lived up to their reputation)
The morning after the rains stopped, Pat called to cancel our adventure on the St Joe, as it was raging 10,000cfs beyond what is safe to float and fish. Not wanting to waste a trip, I had to think outside the box. A couple of days later, a 24-hour reprieve from the rain allowed us to go fishing. Pat took me out to a lake that had once been hayfields. Now called Haydon Lake, it is surrounded by houses and hosts a variety of species. I was not looking forward to rowing my drift boat a mile into the wind to drift back to the dock. Pat surprised me by pulling out a small electric motor and we zipped out across the lake. Maybe zipped is a bit of an exaggeration, but compared to my rowing speed we moved quickly.
Moments later I felt a small tug on my new Beulah 5wt, and I found myself face-to-face with an 11-inch Crappie. The next cast yielded a large mouth bass. After 30 or so of the small, warm water species we worked the banks in hopes of enticing a large pike out of the weeds, but they were not cooperating. Without fear of snagging the bank behind me I got the chance to really stretch the Guide Series II Rod. Seventy foot casts were a breeze, making this a great rod for the long and short game. All in all, it was a great day of Idaho fishing and I added a few more species to my list of fish I’ve caught on a fly rod. I’m only about 300 fish species behind the great Jeff Currier…
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