There is the window in the spring when every fisherman or woman in the mountains grabs their gear and tries to fish as much as possible. It’s between when the weather warms up enough not to freeze your keister off standing in or floating down the river, and before the river blows out with runoff.
Blowout: when the snow starts to melt quickly, running into rivers and streams, bringing with it dirt, crud, muck, etc. that turns the river mocha. The fish go to the bottom not to be seen until run off dissipates and the water clears – usually around July here in Jackson Hole.
This past week the Snake River in Jackson Hole went mocha but we had heard fishing on the South Fork of the Snake in Idaho was still good. So Sunday morning we threw the kayaks on the Highlander and headed across The Pass to see if we could find some trout.
When we stopped at Rendezvous Fly Shop in Irwin, our hearts sank when Gary the owner told us they had opened the flow from the Palisades Dam. Alas, it was a gorgeous day for a float and maybe the fish gods would be with us.
They weren’t…..but it’s not about catching fish right, it’s about the experience?!
The river was a little murky and extremely cold with all the fresh water from the reservoir. Our other clue fishing was not going to be good – we only saw one osprey and two eagles surveying the river the entire day. Typically on that stretch, the birds are waiting for you to catch something so they can swoop in and steal it away!
So down the river we floated. The sunshine felt glorious on my back, the green grass poking through the muddled browns of deadfall and deteriorating leaves were like microbursts of paint. We stopped at various gravel bars and tried our luck in seams, riffles and pools that should obviously be holding fish. Let’s just say it was a good practice day.
As we passed other fishermen we all asked the same question and got the same answer. Nothing happening. At least it wasn’t just us.
As we approached Falls Creek Falls, our spirits lifted based solely on the beauty of this spot. While I have floated past the Falls a number of times later in the year, I had never seen them early on when the water is gushing over the rocks. A favorite place for fisherman and hikers to take a break, we stood and took in everything around us and were thankful we had the place to ourselves.
Five hours later we arrived at Conant boat ramp, a little dismayed at the lack of catching, but happy to have had such a beautiful and serene float down the river. There was plenty of time to clear our heads, chat about life, make plans for our next fishing trip to Montana and just take in all that was around us.
I’ve always said, fly fishing is a great excuse to stand someplace beautiful and do absolutely nothing. It was the universe’s way of reminding me, it’s not always about catching fish.