Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Excuses, Excuses

The lower Snake River can hold some serious gems, and by gems I mean big bass. This is no secret for your average spin fisher, but to a fly angler it seems to be the place to discover. I have only fished this part of the Snake River a handful of times, and each time it has fished like a different river; sometimes it's good, and sometimes it is bad. When Chris Preston started up his boat engine on the first try, we knew it was going to be a good day of fishing. We were wrong.

I sat up at the front of the boat to check for bigger rocks as we headed to our location. The reason for this was because Chris has a prop engine, and we didn't want it smacking on a rock when he had his fifteen horsepower engine cranked on high. A sudden stop at that speed would send us flying out of the boat, so I kept a careful watch.
"Chris, this water is way off color." I yelled, scanning for rocks.
"I saw that. I hope it won't affect fishing." He yelled back over the buzz of the engine. 
"I don't think it will." I yelled back, trying to stay optimistic.

I was wrong...oh, so very wrong. Chris and I pounded the water as we drifted by all kinds of good looking bass habitat, with nothing to show for it. Well, that's not true. I had already lost five flies, one of which was my Bruce Lee popper. We both were changing out flies every few minutes to see if the bass were favoring a particular color over another, but nothing was working. Well, that again was not true. I did end up catching a small bass on a black bugger, but with it being the only one caught in hours, it seemed more like a pity-take than anything more.

The wind started to pick up, along with the excuses we hurled at one another, like a pleasant game of catch, as to why we were not catching any fish.

"I'm not trying to make excuses for our failed day, but this water clarity is killing us." Chris said, making another cast. 
"And this weather." I said. "If we had a touch of cloud cover it would be way better than this blue-bird day."  
"Well I can tell you one thing... It's not us!" Chris said, with certainty.
"You know, we have been fishing where we think the fish should be. What if we fished over there where they normally would not be?" I said, pointing to the other side of the river. 
Chris pointed the boat that direction, and I started to cast, but stopped when I looked up.
"Well, would you look at that..." I said, drifting by.
"There's our answer! All those damn osprey are taking our fish!" Chris yelled, adding another excuse to our list.

It wasn't until we had drifted a lot further downstream when I finally lucked into a decent bass. It was a shock to both Chris and I, but maybe it meant fishing was about to get good.

It's good to be optimistic when fishing, and a fish to the boat is a good sign. Chris started fishing more intently after that, because he was long over due for a fish. He had worked just as hard as me in his search, and in the end it had finally paid off. 
"There!" Chris yelled, and I looked over to see that he was fighting a fish.

"It was very nice of you to let me catch the first few fish of the day, Chris." I said, as he fought his fish. 
"Well that's what makes me such a good host." He replied back with his fish now at arm's length. He scooped it up and took out his hook quickly before unceremoniously dropping his fish back into the water. 

"The only thing that could make this day better is if I got my line caught in the trolling motor." Chris joked, as he retied his fly line for another cast. The fish gods must not have found humor in Chris's joke, because as we neared the end of our day, Chris's brand new 250 grain sink tip Depth Charge fly line got chewed up in the small prop. The mishap with the fly line added insult to injury to our day, and we got off the water soon after. Nothing will beat you down like a hot windy day in the sun not catching any fish. Tired and fried from the heat, we stopped at the nearest Starbucks for a cold drink. As soon as the barista finished topping Chris's drink with a mound of whipped cream, he started to slurp down his drink, slowly forgetting about his mangled fly line.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Galloway Dam

In the past I was able to fish the Weiser River near my Mother-in-law's house just outside of town for small mouth bass, but now-a-days the access to that portion of water has been cut off due to new property owners.  I usually don't have time to do much exploring for new water when I visit Weiser, so I went to the only place I knew I could easily get access too. 

Galloway Dam is where I headed accompanied by my dad who was in the small town of Weiser, along with my mom, to check out the National Oldtime Fiddler's Contest. We arrived at the dam, and the water flow was much lower that what I had expected. Most of the water was diverted into a canal for irrigation, leaving only a trickle flowing over the dam.

My dad and I walked down to the water, and I didn't expect much from the water conditions, so I simply tied on a popper and left the rest of my gear in the car.

My dad walked around taking pictures as I made a cast with my popper. I brought it back to me with little jolts, making sure my rod tip was close to the water to maximize the disturbance of every pop. Surely there is a bass here, I thought to myself, and I was right. Off in the distance I saw a disturbance that look very bass-like; the only problem was that I couldn't get any closer to make a decent cast.

I wasn't planning on staying long, so I only had my flip flops on, which offered little traction on the rocks that could get me closer. I better not risk it, I thought: peeling off line to make a longer cast. My first cast was a nice one, but it still was not far enough out. I peeled off even more line, and started to double-haul hard. I shot my line forward and it zipped out the rod tip. Then my line suddenly jolted to a stop. I looked down expecting to see a knot in the line, and it was, only the knot was attached to my backing.

I had just cast my entire fly line with a popper attached, and that was something I didn't even know I could do. My casting accomplishment was short lived, because as soon as I caught a glimpse of my popper, a bass slammed it. 
"You got one?" My dad asked.
"Yep!" I said, as I started stripping my line in fast.  
The fish was small, so it was an easy fight. If there was a reason it took as long as it did to bring in my fish, it was due to the amount of fly line I had out of my reel. Never-the-less, I lipped the bass and held it up to show my dad.  

The little fish bolted as soon as hit the water, and I went back to fishing. There was nothing more happening where I was fishing, so I decided to check out the river further downstream.

I felt like Luke Skywalker seeking out Yoda on Degoba while walking downstream with only my flipflops on. I did my best to step over or around the muck, but sometimes it was unavoidable. I could feel the slime in my toes and under my feet, which made my feet slide on the top of my flipflops now. Some carp were milling around but I was not prepared to fish for them, so my dad and I decided it was time to get going. 

On our way back home I glanced over at a familiar house along the way. It was Spot, the zebra's house, and he was outside. 
"Want to stop and see the zebra?" I asked my dad.
"A zebra!?" He said back, and by the excitement in his voice I knew the answer was yes. 

Spot came right up to us when we stopped, and my dad got out to take a closer look. 
"Be careful. I know he is okay with people, but he will still bite." I said. 
"Yeah, I don't want to get bit." He said, and when Spot dipped his head to eat my dad reached out and touched him.

"That was cool." My dad said smiling as we drove away. 
"Yeah, we are lucky he was out." I said back. 
"Are there any other cool animals here?" He asked.
"I know there are some camels in Weiser, but I don't know where they are." 
"Well maybe next time..." He said, and we drove back to Gracy's mom's house to do some yard work.