Steelhead On The Fly And Other Firsts
November has turned out to be a great month of fishing. I've had a lot of great adventures this month but this one tops any of them! I made the trip back to Boise to try and catch my first ever steelhead. My brother told me that Idaho fish and game dump steelhead in the Boise River that they caught in the Hells Canyon area of the Snake River. Steelhead once made their run to the Boise River from the ocean but the many dams along the way had made it impossible for them to continue. My brother had fished for the released steelhead in years past and had good success catching them. He told me before I came up to be prepared for other anglers as well. When we made it to the river it wasn't so bad but by the time they dumped the fish there were people everywhere. It was a different experience to say the least.
On one hand, it made it a lot more difficult to fish but on the other, I got to make some new friends. There were several guys there that fish the steelhead dump every year and it was fun to hear some of there stories from trips past. One guy had brought some smoked steelhead that he had caught the week before and it was some of the best tasting fish I've ever had. Once the truck showed up, it was complete mayhem for the next few hours. There we lots of hang ups with other anglers but everyone seemed to have gone in knowing the battle plan. They dumped a little over 100 steelhead and there were several caught by all. My brother also invited one of his friends to come with us that had never caught a steelhead. We all caught fish using purple egg sucking leeches and I saw others using black wooly buggers. It was so fun catching them on the fly and the steelhead I caught was the biggest fish for me that I've landed on a fly. The fish I saw caught ranged from 23-30 inches.
Earlier in the day my brother had mentioned some bass ponds that Robert took him to wear they had great success catching them on some dry fly patterns. I asked if he had ever gone night fishing and he told me no. I bet you can't guess what we did that night..... We got to the ponds around 10 and started fishing. We were excited to try the mouse pattern that we both had but had never used before. I have heard of angles catching monster brown trout at night using this pattern and figured why not a bass? typically I've found that when the cold weather sets in, the bass stop biting and we weren't sure if we would even have a chance. My brother made several casts using different retrievals without any luck but about 30 minutes into it he figured it out. we couldn't really see the fly when it was out on the water and you would just do short fast strips and pause. After that do a few more and Slam! I couldn't believe the fish were hitting so hard this late in the year. The water would be dead calm and out of no where there would be an explosion on top of the water! My brother landed several and had a bunch get away. It's tough fighting a fish in almost complete darkness. I would shine my head lamp once we had a fish on which made it a little easier. My brother lost a couple that I bet were bigger than the largest one that he landed based on the few times I could get a light on them before they got off. I was also able to land some which was another first for me on this trip. I had never caught a large mouth on the fly and it was an absolute riot! I'm also happy that I can now say I've caught a fish on the mouse pattern. We left around midnight very content with the epic fishing day we had!
As I made my way back home today, I stopped in Hagerman to check out the fish hatcheries they have there. They had lots of ponds and lakes you can fish during the fishing season but the season ended November 1st. I got to see some sturgeon which was cool and I also got some fishing tips on where and how to catch them from one of the hatchery guys. I plan to make a trip up there next year and try those tips out. I also got to see Thousand Springs. They are springs that look to come straight out of the cliffs and drain into the Snake River. I'm always amazed at the beauty and diversity of this great land! How truly blessed we are to be able to enjoy it!
Thousand Springs by Hagerman.