Sunday, November 24, 2013


“Where did you find that?” I asked as my brother, Kris as he pulled out a monster peanut butter cup.  “At the gas station.  I thought it would be a good treat for the road!” He said very excitedly as he handed it to me.  The thing must have weighed about half a pound and was about the size of a pot pie.  I broke it up in four pieces and we all shared it.  I was only halfway through my quarter slice when I said, “There is no way I could eat one of these by myself.” “Tell me about it.” My brother said, “I ate one by myself.” Ryan and I looked at each other in amazement as my brother finished, "and I was sick for a few days.”  

The three of us headed down Blacks Creek Road toward the lower section of the South Fork of the Boise River.  Today was a special day because I had a Tenkara rod to try out.  I have always been curious to try one, so I pulled it out as we geared up.  I also brought my Helios 2 (H2) just in case.    

The water had risen since the last time I was here, so we walked up stream where we saw a large number of rising fish sipping BWOs off the surface.  I set the H2 down as I crept up on some fish to position myself within casting distance.  Twenty-four feet was my limit, and when I got to where I needed to be, the fish stopped rising.  I stood there for what felt like an eternity, waiting for this fish to start rising again.  Just out of my reach were seven to ten fish steadily rising, which would have been an easy cast with the H2.  This is stupid, I thought to myself as I watched the feeding frenzy take place.  Both Ryan and Feef were catching fish with Western style rods.  My fish rose again to recaptured my attention.  With a flick I made a cast.  Not exactly accurate, nor was it drag free, I thought as my fly drifted toward where the fish had rose.  I made another cast, and this time my fly landed where I wanted it to land.  With the slightest disturbance, the fish ate my fly.  

The eleven foot Tenkara rod danced with a fish, and out of instinct I reached for the line that wasn’t there.  The fish swam around me in circles as I did my best not to break him off.  I reached for the sky with the Tenkara rod as I hand-lined the fish into my net.

There, I caught one with the Tenkara rod, I thought as I almost ran back for the H2.  With a real rod in my hand, I hammered the fish.  They were all 13 to 14 inch cookie cutters, but fought like crazy and were very acrobatic.  The three of us were yelling and laughing as we caught fish after fish.  The stillness on the water echoed our excitement. 

After a number of fish, both Ryan and I broke out the Tenkara rods for another go.  “Be sure those telescoping sections are nice and tight, Ryan.” I said before he made his first cast.  These Tenkara rods are not the strongest things on the planet, and breaking one was the last thing I wanted to do.  A fish rose, and Ryan made a few casts out to it.  After taking a few steps closer, the fly was in position, and the fish took! 

“Whooooo hoooo!” Ryan yelled ans his fish leapt out of the water. “This is the biggest one yet!"

The fish tore off upstream, and with no line to give, the big fish of the day broke off.  Ryan was less than thrilled.  As if to rub salt on the wound, Feef yelled, “That's what you get for fishing Tenkara... Stupid..!” 
“Hey!” I yelled back in protest. 
“What are you talking about, Erik?  You broke yours!” My brother was right.  On a simple cast, the second section of my Tenkara rod had snapped only moments before.

On the way back home we argued.  "Perhaps It was not the best place to try it out?" "Maybe we should take it to a small stream?”  "It does offer us a good dry fly challenge.”  “They said we could fish it on the South Fork."  “It would help if I had a third hand to bring in the fish while holding the rod, line, and the net!” These were all great questions and suggestions we had while discussing Tenkara.  Mid-conversation, a black object running in the road caught my eye.  “A dog!” I yelled warning my brother so he wouldn’t hit the black figure.  I looked behind us to see another truck close behind. “They are going to hit it!  STOP!”  

Feef brought his truck to a quick stop, but not before I had opened the door and jumped out.  A sharp whistle brought the dog over to me, and the truck behind us slowed down as it drove by.  A wagging tail quickly made things less on-edge as the dog approached.  “What are you doing out here?” I asked the dog, as it panted.  I brought the tailgate down, “Up!” I yelled, and the dog obeyed.  I cleared a spot for it to lay down before I got back in the cab.  We took off, with Ryan keeping an eye on it through the back window.  “I hope Gracy’s not going to be mad.” I said as we drove home. 

I called Gracy to let her know I found a dog, and she was happy that I had picked it up.  We gave him water and food and even made a bed for him in the house.  He was well-trained, clean, and obeyed commands very well, so he got to sleep inside.  

The next day Gracy took him to the Humane Society, and was given a reference number to keep tabs on him.  If it boiled down to it, we were going to end up with a new dog.  However, I am happy to report that his parents came and claimed him, and his name was Buddy.  It was great news for both Gracy and I, and despite some of the flack I got for picking him up in the first place, I would do it all over again.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Helping Out

John, the owner of Anglers Fly Shop, asked me to represent the shop by helping the local Trout Unlimited organization plant over 280 cottonwood trees at the South Fork of the Boise River.  I immediately accepted and met with the crew of over 70 people early Saturday morning.  

I was offered a ride to the river, but at the last minute was told there was no room for me and I was kicked to the curb.  The funny thing was that I had numerous invites from anglers willing to give me a ride, and I refused all because I was sure this person was dependable.  Late the night before I received a phone call from, said person, explaining that they had no room anymore, and I was to get the boot.  Great, now what am I going to do?  Because I am a gentleman I will not mention the name of the person responsible...(Dick Frencer)... 

There were plenty of people to catch a ride with, but the first person I found was, none other than former Anglers employee, Darren Strong!  He and his wife Kayleen were fun to ride up with and, wouldn’t you know, they didn’t kick me out at the last second.

We arrived at the South Fork, and met with Pam, from Trout Unlimited.  Pam is always in the know when it comes to any fisheries project, and is definitely someone we want on our side. 

Pam had us help at the Pearce Creek tributary, planting baby cottonwood trees.  Darren, Kayleen, and I headed to the truck where the trees were kept, grabbed a few each, and headed off to plant them.   

If you were on the river on this day, this is what you saw at every tributary.  Lines of cars, full of willing anglers helping their favorite fishery by establishing root growth in washed out sections of the river. 

Back at Pearce Creek, Wess Atkinson and I grabbed the remaining trees from the truck.

With my four trees and shovel, I hiked up Pearce Creek a little ways to find my trees a good home.  

There was obvious evidence there had been a slide, so I looked around for some good places to plant my trees. 

Each of my trees received great care and were chosen a good home with plenty of light. 

I met back up with Darren and Kayleen before lunchtime. “There was just enough trees for each person to plant four.” Kayleen said as we walked to put our shovels away.  “I took my four and planted them up Pearce Creek where the ground was nice and soft.” I said, pointing up at the creek. Kayleen chimed in, saying, “I know I planted four...” “Well I planted five!” Darren said cutting off his wife.  Apparently Kayleen and I didn't realize we were competing against one another...  

We were called over to have a catered lunch provided by Trout Unlimited, and it was fantastic! 

As we ate, it was hard not to notice the BWO hatch that was starting to take place.  It didn’t take much arm twisting to get us out and fishing.  We were joined by Wess, who was also prepared to get in some fishing after the work was complete. 

We parked at the Village, geared up, and headed into the water. This was an area that had been affected by a recent landslide so we were all curious to try it out.  I entered the water and found myself looking around, as I did not recognize the water anymore. 

New braids in the water offered up great nymphing channels for catching fish.  Kayleen, Darren, and Wess all took advantage of this, and each brought in a few fish.  I, however, stuck, ever so stubbornly, to dry fly fishing.  The hatch was there, with no fish rising.  I stood there with my fly in my hand waiting for a rise, and sure enough I saw one.  I made a long cast to the fish and the water, reflecting the sun, sparkled to life as the fish took my fly.  I set the hook, only to slightly feel the fish before it came unbuttoned.  That was the only action I got in the short amount of time we had to fish.  Oh well, it beats going to the dark side. 

Channel 7 covered the story on the South Fork; click here to check it out. 

Also, check out Wess Atkinson's new fly fishing page:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Cold Day

After a delicious breakfast, compliments of Pat Kilroy, my brother, Pat, and I headed out to fish the South Fork of the Boise River below Neal Bridge.  Snow was falling before we had even started heading up there, and by the time we hit the gravel road it was completely covered with snow.

Personally, I love driving in the snow.  Everything seems to quiet down on the road, and the scenery is fantastic.  
My brother, Feef, followed closely behind in his truck.  We took it slow and eventually made it to our location.

“I’m going to start out with a streamer.” Pat said as we geared up for our hike downstream.  My brother and I rigged our rods for some dry fly action.  “There should be a nice BWO hatch down here.” I told Pat as we finished rigging up, “and I bought a new leader just for the occasion.” 

In almost no time Pat hooked into a nice 17” trout with his streamer.  I watched from afar as he released it back into the water.  I continued searching with a black stimulator, without getting any love.  For hours I pounded the water without so much as a look.  I met up with my brother further downstream, and he was having as much luck as I.  “I think I am going back up to the car to switch my rod.” I told him as I reeled in my line.  “I was thinking about nymphing.” He told me will a frown, “I HATE nymphing!” I ran up to the car and grabbed my 10’ 5wt to throw streamers.

Little snowballs fell from the sky as I started stripping my streamer. “I love fishing in the snow” I said to myself as I watched it all fall around me.  Everything was so quiet except for the zipping sound my line made as I double hauled for a longer cast.  The snowflakes got bigger and fell much slower as I stood in the river.  I looked up to take in the sight; I stripped my fly in and lifted my rod tip up bringing my fly to he surface of the water.  Just then a fish took an aggressive strike, just missing my fly.  I dropped my rod tip in hopes the fish would still be there to take another swipe at my streamer, and sure enough it was.  Wham!  I set the hook and felt the glorious tug of a fish.  “Yeah!” I yelled as I brought in my first fish of he day. 

I let my fish go and looked for my brother.  “They started rising, Brother.” He yelled over to me as he got into position.  Sure enough, he was right; what was once a slow slick of water had become dotted with rings, indicating feeding fish.  Pat headed upstream while we headed down.  We could no longer see each other and I hoped he was seeing the same thing as we were.  I walked over to where my brother was casting to a rising fish.

“He’s right here, and he won’t take my fly!” He said annoyed, keeping his eyes on the fish.  The fish rose again, “There he is!” I said. “Yep, I see him,” Feef said as he went to cast.  His fly drifted right over the spot where the fish had rose. “Eat my fly, fish!” He said, frustrated as his fly drifted over and over the rising fish. “Why arn’t you eating my fly?” “What do you have on?” I asked, “A BWO emerger.” “You should switch to an adult, size 18,” I suggested, after watching the fish feeding.  In silence he tied on an adult BWO, “there it is, now I’m going to get him.” He said with newly found confidence.  I went back to tying on my fly when I heard, “God damn it!” I looked up to see that his back cast had snagged some weeds behind him.  “NO! NO! NO!” he yelled tugging his fly rod away from the weeds, but his fly remained firmly stuck.  

A fish had rose a few feet in front of the fish he was casting to, so I got into position and made a cast.  The fish took my fly on the first cast without hesitation.  “Boom!” I said setting the hook.  "I hate you, I hate you!” my brother yelled in protest to my success. 

My fish swam off, and my brother was still after his - still rising - fish.  “This is it, this is going to be the one!” He cheerfully said as the fly fell in the feeding lane of his fish.  I stopped and watched as his fly, once again, drifted over the fish, untouched.  “WHY AREN’T YOU EATING MY FLY?!!!” I started laughing and said, “Let me see your fly.”  As he walked over to me I made a quick cast to a rising fish.  “Two for two!” I yelled bringing in a fish; I looked back at my brother and said, “Two for two, Brother!” “Yeah... that’s really great.” He scowled. 

I released my fish and checked out my brother’s leader. “Well no wonder you aren’t caching any fish!” I yelled at him.  His leader was chewed up to about 2X tippet with about three inches of 5X tipped tied off of that where his fly was tied; it was only about four or five feet long.  “What were you planning on catching these fish with?  Hopes and dreams?” I said as I quickly extended his leader out to ten feet with the same fly I was using.  He was good to go, and we both started fishing again.  Another fish rose in my section so I casted out, and it ate my fly. 

The fish my brother was originally casting to was long gone by now.  I was catching more fish further out in the river, so he stepped out to join me and started targeting the fish in front of him. “My timing is all off!” He yelled to me.  “Then time the fish.” I advised.  I am happy to report that Feef did catch a fish, however when he brought it in I asked him if he would like a picture. “No, this is a small one.” He said as the little thing darted off.  The hatch was over, and the wind froze our hands before we decided to head back.  We met up with Pat, who had brought in a few more fish with his streamer; some were even bull trout, he explained, as we set off back home.

The muddy roads reminded me of pumpkin pie with whipped cream as we headed out of he canyon.  I enjoyed Pat telling me about his experience on the water as we drove out in the light snow.  We reached a great lookout point on the road, overlooking the South Fork of the Boise.  “Lets stop here and get a picture.” Pat suggested, bringing out his camera.  

The shot turned out great, and it was just another reminder of how much we love this fantastic river.  Next time I will head back to the South Fork to help the local Trout Unlimited chapter plant cottonwood trees around the tributaries; much needed nurturing since the recent fires.