Monday, August 4, 2014

Western Trout

I've had a rare and wonderful opportunity in the past week to fish for trout in two different regions of the western United States.  For a guy who doesn't get much time on the water, this was quite a treat.

First up was central Idaho. A friend from an online fly fishing group I've been a part of for quite a few years invited us to his property along Loving Creek, a spring creek tributary to Silver Creek, near Picabo, Idaho.  (And yes, Picabo is pronounced as if you were saying it to an infant.)  Steve has been taunting the group with photos of the landscape of his ranch and of trout from his stream, so I combined a trip to visit family in Seattle with three days of Idaho fishing.

We also fished the Big Lost river in the Copper Basin area above Ketchum, rushing mountain streams with different feel (and with cutthroat trout as well as rainbow) from the spring creeks.  Fishing the spring creeks was difficult but enjoyable and rewarding, as was the companionship.

Early morning on Loving Creek

Silver Creek from above

Floating Loving Creek

Since I had gear in tow, I decided to find a trout stream near my in-law's home of Bremerton, Washington.  With a few suggestions and some web searching, I settled on the mountain reaches of the Dungeness River, whose headwaters is in the Olympic Mountains.  In many ways the Dungeness is the opposite of the wide-open Idaho spring creeks, sight lines in the verdant Olympics being limited by the giant fir and bushy alder and hemlock trees.  In Idaho, I could see the truck from a mile or more away as I hiked back to it.  In the Olympics, I couldn't see more than 30 feet ahead of us as we drove the dirt roads.  The Dungeness plunges steeply as well, with fast rapids punctuated by occasional pools.  Father-in-law Doug, a native of these parts, joined me.

I was on the water early and had little success to start with, but eventually caught a few small trout.  One large pool beckoned with its overhanging trees.  I got myself into position downstream and cast a brushy red "Humpy" fly- one that doesn't resemble any particular insect but looks buggy to hungry trout- upstream.  After a few drifts, a trout took the fly and I assumed it was yet another small one.  After a much stronger tug and a good bit of line pulled off my reel, I got the fish closer to me and saw it was quite a healthy one.  It was tricky to get a photo of it, but measured against my fly rod it was 16" long and plenty fat.  My day was made!

After a sandwich lunch, we drove further upstream to a popular trailhead where the road crosses the Dungeness.  Apparently all hikers, I had the river to myself, and again worked the plunge pools with a bushy Stimulator fly.  Here the fish were eager but not particularly large.  I took one or two brook or rainbow trout from most of the pools, none larger than 10 or 12 inches.

Dungeness River, in a hurry to get to the Pacific

Healthy rainbow trout

It was a great day!  And I feel fortunate to have had these two opportunities to indulge my love of spending time in the great outdoors.

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