This weekend I drove down to visit my sister Kate and her boyfriend Tom. Tom owns a nice ranch with 2 amazing trout streams, both of which are tributaries of the Salmon River and spawning grounds for Chinook salmon and steelhead. On day 1 we fished a section of the Salmon river south of Challis. We met up with Toms friend Ryan who showed us a cool access road on the far side of the river. We began fishing and about 5 minutes into fishing, Ryan hooked into a huge Cutthroat. The fish was about 18 inches and it was FAT. We continued fishing the run for a while and each of us picked up some whitefish on dries. Unfortunately, the whitefish ruled the day and no matter what we tried the whitefish continued to make it difficult to get to the trout. I did manage to land a 16 inch rainbow and later in the day I picked up a beautiful cutthroat of about 17 inches on a dry fly. Overall it was a great day and we did find the trout in the faster sections. By the end of the day I had a double digit creel.
Day 2 was a different story. Tom, Kate and I started on the Salmon River and managed to get into a few small rainbows and some juvenile Chinook salmon fingerlings. It was pretty slow so we decided to head back to the ranch and fish a very populated spring creek that runs on the property. The creek was full of trout and I had a great time catching plenty of fish. The rainbows and brookies ranged from about 7-12 inches and we also caught tons of juvenile chinooks. Almost all of the fish we caught were on attractor dries and fish were not picky at all.
Halfway through the day we did spot a big king swimming upstream. It was very cool to see because I haven't seen a salmon in about a year now. We continued to catch fish throughout the day and Tom managed to land a couple larger rainbows of about 16 inches. It was a great day and it was a beautiful spring creek to fish.
On day 3 Tom and I headed to the second trib of the Salmon river. We spoke with some people who work at the hatchery and they told us that there was a good amount of spawning salmon to see. We got to the stream and I found a nice fast riffle run. The run was a small slot and I caught 5 fish right off the bat. Then on my next drift I hooked into a big rainbow. The fish literally almost ripped my rod out of my hand as it flew downstream. Drag screaming, I called to Tom because I definitely wanted a picture with this fish. I fought the fish for some time and then managed to land the fish and pull it up on the grass. It was a very fat rainbow of about 17 inches. Not a bad way to start the day.
A nice Bow
We continued upstream spotting 1 big spawning salmon along the way. we fished many bends and we were catching tons of fish. I could not believe how many fish there were. I continued to stick with the nymphs and it continued to produce. Some of the fish were pretty nice and I caught a few that were 12+ inches. I missed a couple nice fish but for the most part I was having a blast catching fish after fish after fish. further upstream we reached a big gravel run and there were about 6 spawning salmon working on their redds. It was very cool to see salmon over 900 miles from the ocean and it made me really respect their toughness.
After we fished the run below the salmon and catching a few nice fish we headed back to the car. Before we left i fished that same run where I landed the chunky rainbow. My nymphs held up and I set the hook. Immediately a slab of 20+ inch rainbow launched itself out of the water and flew downstream. I'm pretty sure tom and I both said "holy shit" at the same time. The fish continued downstream and rolled and the hook was thrown. Man do I wish I had that one back.
The lost fish marked an end to the fishing and we headed back to the ranch. I had a great time in Idaho and it was great seeing my sister and meeting Tom. I want to thank Tom for the hospitality and hope to fish again with him as soon as I can.