Wednesday, October 02, 2019

#WednesdayWisdom : Be The Grizzly Edition

Monday, September 30, 2019

A Schooling on Silver Creek

The Editorial Trophy Wife has three rules related to her annual birthday trip. I have to take her out of Texas, she has to be in the mountains, and she has to have an adult beverage in her hand on the day of her birth. The astute among you will note that me going fishing is not on her list. However, the good news for me is that she is usually receptive to the idea, as long as she doesn't have to accompany me. She has caught her share of trout in the past but these days she takes a been there done that approach to fly fishing.  So much for 50/50 on the water in our house.  

With that said, you can imagine I was pretty pleased when she selected the Sun Valley area of Idaho as this year's destination.  After all, Papa Hemingway and his son Jack's old haunt had to have some pretty nice trout water close at hand. I did the required internet research, reached out to friends, and got advice from a social media group of which I am a member. To a person, everyone gave the same answer. Yes, I could fish lots of places close to Sun Valley, but whatever I did, I had to fish Silver Creek.  

There was one small problem that kept coming up. To a person, everyone who recommended Silver Creek also added the caveat that it was quite possibly the hardest place on the planet to catch a trout. I was assured to see massive numbers of wild trout, huge Trico hatches, and most likely not be able to catch a single trout. Words like "technical water", "tiny flies", "flat water" and "educated trout" were thrown around carelessly. These are all words that give pause to a southern blue line nymph fisher (usually with a bobber strike indicator). When I expressed my discouragement, my advisers were quick to say that the scenery would more than make up for the lack of catching. Being a risk-taker at heart, I decided to go for it and did the only sensible thing. I shelled out a tidy sum and hired a guide.  After all, you can't take it with you. 

VA Hokie and fly fishing guide Andrew Thomas
Enter Andrew Thomas of Picabo Anglers.  As fortune would have it, Andrew also grew up fishing Southern waters, although I doubt he used a strike indicator.  He quizzed me a bit about where I had fished and tried to gauge my skill level. I mentioned that I had fished for a while but made sure he got the message that fishing the most technical water on the planet worried me.  He seemed confident but also mentioned that the scenery was wonderful and that I would enjoy the day.  Hiring Andrew turned out to be money well spent.

One thing was evident as soon as we arrived at the river.  A massive Trico hatch was already well underway.  The air was thick with tiny bugs and trout were rising all around. I threw on my waders and boots while Andrew rigged up my Orvis H3 five weight for its first real test.  Accurate from anywhere? I guess we would know soon enough.  

Undercut banks and tall grass on Silver Creek

The banks of Silver Creek are deeply undercut and lined with tall, unforgiving grass. This wasn't really a problem during the morning Trico hatch.  Trout were feeding boldly with some even cruising the surface with mouths agape, scooping up as many emerging bugs as possible  Even while feeding with abandon it became very clear that a presentation with any amount of drag would be ignored.  Andrew gave great advice on when to mend and helped me with my reach cast and within a few minutes of entering the water, I had long line released a nice trout.  Andrew, ever the generous guide, assured me that, on Silver Creek, that fish counted.   At this point, I am sure he still had some concerns about my abilities but I felt I was starting to get the hang of things. At least when I got back to the hotel I could say I had hooked fish.   As the hatch continued, we moved from pod to pod of rising trout.  All were eager but none would tolerate a muffed cast or any drag. Any missteps on the part of the angler and the pod was busted and you had best move on.  I managed a few more trout and we actually got them into the net.  While I would call the morning a success, It was clear that for every fish we brought to the net, I had missed or scared away what felt like fifty more.  Technical water?  I'll say.

The hatch was intense and both my guide and I wanted to make the most of it. This meant there was little time for "grip and grins" but I knew I had to have proof. Trust me, I am grinning.

Those undercut banks would come into play after lunch.  The morning hatch had ended so we ate our sandwiches while dodging cows as we drove through the pasture to the river. We tied on hoppers, stepped into float tubes, and got in the water.  With no hatch to be seen, the plan was to cast a hopper as close to the grass as possible and coax fish out from under the bank. When I say close to the bank you should know that meant within one to two inches of the grassy bank.  My biggest nemesis for the rest of the day would be that wall of tall grass on the bank.   I would try to zing a cast up against the bank and, at the last minute, thinking I was going to get hung up, pull back.  My fly would land two to three feet from the bank.  As you can guess the trout weren't in any mood to come three feet from the bank, even in search of a tasty grasshopper.  To Andrew's credit, he stopped me and reminded me that he didn't care if I lost a fly, or got hung up, and to please, for the sake of all that is holy, cast up against the bank (I paraphrased this but you get the idea).   His pep talk must have helped both my confidence and my casting because as long as I didn't overthink it, I started getting casts into the zone and we started catching fish.  Later Andrew would remind me that we didn't lose a single fly all day.

A nice Brown Trout coaxed from the undercut bank.

Silver Creek Rainbow

Silver Creek was definitely a fly fishing education.  I came to Idaho worried that I might not be up to the task and in many ways I was not.   I stacked the deck in my favor by hiring Andrew as my guide and the Orvis H3 was way more accurate than me "from anywhere".  It paid off with a dozen or so trout out of the hundreds I had an opportunity to catch, all on dry flies. I got schooled, but if you really think about it, every day for a fly fisherman should be like a day in school.

Editors Note:  Andrew Thomas is a guide with Picabo Anglers in Picabo, Idaho located on the banks of Silver Creek.  I can definitely recommend him that you hire him like I did.  Whether you fish Silver creek with a guide or on your own, put it on your list of places you must fish. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

#WednesdayWisdom and proof of trout caught.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

#WednesdayWisdom: Author with the best name ever edition.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

#WednesdayWisdom: Fly fishing's biggest fan edition

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Rise and Shine: Silver Creek Trico Hatch Edition

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

#Wednesdaywisdom: Hemingway on Solitude

"Somebody just back of you while you are fishing is as bad as someone looking over your shoulder while you write a letter to your girl". -Ernest Hemingway

We've all heard that cry from the bridge or path behind you, "Catching anything?"  Onlookers can definitely harsh your vibe.  Unless of course you hook one, then you want them to see. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

#WednesdayWisdom: Captain Gordon Churchill on Reds and Numbers

"Red fishing with a fly rod is not a numbers game. Yes there will come a time when you get a school penned up in a creek somewhere and catch a dozen or more. That happens. Not a lot however. Mostly it's a game of one here and another there. Lure anglers and bait guys won't understand what you're so excited about when you tell them about the tailer you saw on the grass flat, that you casted a small shrimp fly to and it ate and took off. They'll ask you how many you caught. You'll say that was the only one and they will look at you funny. It's all good. Fly fishing is about the how, not the how many." - Gordon Churchill

PS.  I've known Gordon for several years and his fly fishing knowledge definitely qualifies as #WednesdayWisdom. Get his insights in his book which is available via Amazon  or reach out directly to him via twitter @captgordon or at his blog 

Monday, July 22, 2019

Hemingway: On avoiding adjectives...

A quote from Mary V. Dearborn's, "Ernest Hemingway: A Biography" on the style sheet Hemingway used while working at the Kansas City Star.  Getting myself in the right mind-set for an upcoming trip to Idaho and Silver Creek.  "No writer can fail to write well if he abides by them."

Friday, July 12, 2019

Fly Fishing Quote of the week : South Carolina Flatlander Edition

From a column in " The Island Packet" by Collins Doughtie, comes our fly fishing quote of the week.

"Talk about trout, I absolutely crushed them and the locals just couldn’t figure out how I was doing it. Some secrets are worth keeping, and other than a disabled woman and Ukrainian man I befriended, those secrets are still mine."

Looks like the townies got no love on this trip. :-)  Read the rest of his column here (Link) 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Gear: Kershaw Scallion with SpeedSafe Opening

I picked up a Kershaw Scallion pocket knife about ten years ago and it has been an regular part of my EDC ever since.  The knife is slim enough for carry in a jean or even dress pant pocket either via the clip or incognito.  The edge has held up well and the assisted opening makes for quick deployment.  At $34 the knife's price won't break the bank and is not reflective of the quality you are getting.  Here's an amazon link should you want to have a look and maybe add one to your collection.   I especially liked this one in olive drab and purchased it for my Dad, on the recent Father's day.

PS.  The link is an affiliate link so if you were to purchase one we would earn a small commission.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019