Monday, May 23, 2011

Trout Fury: A crazy fishing adventure that never ends.

My life is about fishing and mostly for species in the trout and salmon families. I have spent my whole life pretty much obsessing about fishing for all of these different and sometimes rare species. I have lived in some pretty cool fishing places including on the Wilson River in Oregon, The Washougal River in Washington, and now in Bend Oregon, minutes away from the Deschutes River. I spend my fishing life with my wonderful fishing wife, and two wonderful, sometimes fishing kids. I fish usually two times a week, and I am always looking for the big one. spinfishing for wild cutthroat

I am going to start my blog with a great fishing story. I should have written about this when it happened but life gets in the way sometimes. It starts on a journey to the Idaho Panhandle to catch some west slope cutthroat trout out of the St. Joe River.

Our original plan was to take our fishing adventure to the Chewaucan River in Central Oregon; this is normally a pretty dry and warm region during the summer time. This summer the weather was going to be particularly warm, as a heat wave that would reach 100 degrees or more, was predicted to affect much of the Pacific Northwest, as luck would have it right during our vacation time. We always plan ahead with wiggle room so we changed or plans, last minute (in the driveway, camping gear packed, just about to head out, last minute) and decided to go a little further east to the Wallowa River in eastern Oregon and then head north to the St. Joe in the Idaho panhandle.

It was 100 degrees when we hit Portland coming from Tillamook; it was only noon, and already crazy hot outside. We headed to the Wallowa River at Minam state park to stay a few days and fish for the wild Columbia River redband trout that inhabit that watershed. We arrived at about 8 P.M, still hot and humid. We set up camp and headed to bed early. Now I want to tell you that Minam state park is really nice, there are deer and wild turkey running everywhere and the river is right next to the park.

22" columbia redband rainbow trout
I awoke early as usual and raised everyone from sleep. It was bright and sunny and quite cooler than the day before. There is a big pool at the head of the park if you have ever been there before you know it holds some big trout. Well of course this is where we headed. My plan was to float some stimulators in the fast water and try to catch one on dry flies, after about 10 minutes with no action I set the fly rod down. Time to try to make the trout eat metal. Now up until this point I had never caught a trout over 18 inches on a lure, and always thought somehow big fish in rivers only fell for flies. That is dead wrong; my first cast into the pool with a Black Stonefly lure, quarter cast upstream and bouncing on the bottom, produced a hook up that I could hardly believe. I thought I had hooked a spring Chinook until this large fish erupted from the river it was a very large trout, not a steelhead, it was to early for them to be way up there Of course I confirmed when I landed this beauty..
After a long battle on 4 lb line and the whole family helping I landed a 22.5 inch wild Columbia River redband trout. My lure a 1/8 oz small little spinner caught this huge fish, how does that saying go. The larger the lure the larger the fish. Not always, as I proved. I put the fish back where it came from and it happily swam away. Since then I have caught another fish from the same spot in 2010 that was 19.5 inches but that’s another story.

After that I thought “how am I going to top that?” on my first day of vacation a very large wild trout, and I didn’t top it either. We camped at Minam for a few days. My daughter Adrienne caught a nice 14 inch wild trout on our last day on the Wallowa before heading to Idaho, but it was warming up and we wanted to get out of the heat wave so Rocky Mountains here we come.Adrienne's westslope cutthroat
We spent half of our trip on the north fork of the St. Joe and the other half at the end of the road on the St. Joe above Red Ives ranger station. To anyone planning a trip to this awesome river, skip the lower end, particularly if the weather and water are warm, and just go to the end of the road to the last drive in campground. On this trip I had some of the best dry fly fishing of my life up there, and some of it right in the campground, it was crazy. 13 to 16 inch trout all day on a dry fly all native west slope cutthroat trout. We didn’t want the trip to end so on the way back we stayed at marble creek and caught some more nice cutthroat up there and had a great time just camping and hanging out in the woods. The next day we had make the drive from Marble Creek to Tillamook in one day. One hell of a drive.

The country up on the St. Joe is awesome. Nothing beats camping out on the slopes of the Rocky Mountains and fishing for wild trout eager to take dry flies. Every creek and river is loaded with cutthroat; Idaho is doing a wonderful job taking care of their rivers. If anyone wants more information on fishing the Wallowa, or St. Joe Rivers just e-mail me, I’ll hook you up with the details.