Big "Y" Flies

Big "Y" Flies
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About Me

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Discussing fishing flies, trout flies, salmon flies, fly fishing gear and equipment, Idaho and Montana fishing rivers, NW rivers, fly tying and fly fishing trips. Over 50 years experience in fly fishing, best flies, fly tying, fly fishing techniques, fish stories, directions to rivers and lakes and great fly fishing tall tales with special communications from area guides.

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Here is the scoop. We will also be going on some shorter side trips this summer as well. They will be posted here. If you live in Montana, Idaho or Washington state, you may want to contact IdahoAngler@live.com for details. You'll meet some really great fellow fishers!
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Friday, April 29, 2011

Old Idaho Fly Fisher

"Old Idaho Fly Fisher" was not written by YellowStoneFly from the Idaho Fly Fishers blog. Rather, it was borrowed from a friend's email who belongs to the Idaho Fly Fishers Association. The author is unkonwn. It is a gentle reminder that the next time you see an 'ole codger in his patched waders, with his Sears Roebuck beryllium copper fly rod and his one small fly box fishing in an Idaho trout stream, maybe, just maybe, you should politely go over and ask him what is in that one (1) little fly box. Enjoy the story and come fly fish Idaho soon.

"An old prospector shuffled into town leading an old tired mule.  The old man headed straight for the only saloon to clear his parched throat.

He walked up and tied his old mule to the hitch rail. As he stood there, brushing some of the dust from his face and clothes, a young gunslinger stepped out of the saloon with a gun in one hand and a bottle of whiskey in the other.

The young gunslinger looked at the old man and laughed, saying, "Hey old man, have you ever danced?"

The old man looked up at the gunslinger and said, "No, I never did dance.. never really wanted to."

A crowd had gathered as the gunslinger grinned and said, "Well, you old fool, you're gonna dance now," and started shooting at the old man's feet.

The old prospector - not wanting to get a toe blown off - started hopping around like a flea on a hot skillet. Everybody was laughing, fit to be tied.

When his last bullet had been fired, the young gunslinger, still laughing, holstered his gun and turned around to go back into the saloon.

The old man turned to his pack mule, pulled out a double-barreled shotgun, and cocked both hammers.

The loud clicks carried clearly through the desert air.

The crowd stopped laughing immediately.

The young gunslinger heard the sounds too, and he turned around very slowly. The silence was almost deafening.

The crowd watched as the young gunman stared at the old timer and the large gaping holes of those twin barrels.

The barrels of the shotgun never wavered in the old man's hands, as he quietly said, "Son, have you ever licked a mule's ass?"

The gunslinger swallowed hard and said , "No sir..... but... I've always wanted to."

There are a few lessons for us all here:
Never be arrogant.
Don't waste ammunition.
Whiskey makes you think you're smarter than you are.
Always, always make sure you know who has the power.
Don't mess with old men; they didn't get old by being stupid.
I just love a story with a happy ending, don't you?"

The Idaho Angler (IdahoAngler@live.com)

Idaho fly fishing is waiting for you. All of my favorite Idaho rivers are now open all year like the Moyie River  and western Montana streams and rivers open always the third Saturday in May each year like the famous Bull River. Check 'em out.

Tags: Idaho Fly Fishers.com
           Moyie River, ID

Monday, April 25, 2011

Lightning Creek, ID - Easter 2011

"Lightning Creek, ID - Easter 2011" contributed by YellowStoneFly at the Idaho Fly Fishers Blog. Come fly fish Idaho and visit this great freestone river just north of Clark Fork, ID in the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness Area. Just bought a new fishing car. Its a 1969 vintage Land Rover IIA. Thought I would check it out in the snow in the wilderness area and it did great. My wife and I drove up about 10 miles above town and it was beautiful. Talk about water as clear as gin. Unbelievable! The brown, black, grey, yellow, orange and white river bed rocks shown like a muted rippling rainbow in the river bottom. The first forest service road sign we came to was the grizzly warning. It was about 5 miles up Lightning Creek Road.

The next sign we encountered was the "Bull Trout Country" sign shown here. Idaho is very protective of its bulls and rightfully so. When you come to fly fish Idaho one day, make sure you know the difference between the brookie and the bull. They do look very similar and are adequately described in the Idaho Fish & Game booklet, which you should pick up when you purchase your license. By the way, Lightning Creek and all north Idaho streams and rivers are now OPEN YEAR ROUND. For fly suggestions, go to the "Western Fly Hatches" post in this blog. 

Spring at last - Easter 2011
Now enjoy these photos of this wonderful wading western trout stream in northern Idaho. Click on the photos for the full effect. For other popular western fishing waters go to Rivers of Idaho (& the Northwest) at the Idaho Fly Fishers Association website.   


The Idaho Angler (IdahoAngler@live.com)
          Bull River, Montana
          Big Wood River, Idaho

Friday, April 22, 2011

"Fishing Trip Up Lightning Creek" 1921

"Fishing Trip Up Lightning Creek" was kindly borrowed from the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, Inc. with their permission. Please note the 1922 author below was B. W. Pugh and the original publication "North Idaho News". I have only included excerpts from the original short story. For the full article please go to page 4 of thier website's newsletter Scotchman Peaks.org. The complete short story is must read and describes Idaho fly fishing for native trout as it was almost exactly 90 years ago.

I myself frequently fish Montana's Bull River which paralells the eastern edge of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness area and can tell you it is beautiful and the fishing superb. After reading, consider a donation to this wonderful northern Idaho and northwestern Montana conservation group the Friends of Scotchman Peaks. Enjoy. Please comment freely. I would love to hear what you think about this, our first, historical post.

North Idaho
Tuesday, April 11, 1922
(by B. W. Pugh)

“About the 15th of July, 1921, a party was arranged consisting of a local good friend, his wife, my wife and myself for a fishing and camping trip on Big Lightning Creek in Bonner County, Idaho. Taking the old Auxer trail, we wound upon our way through the forest, paralleling Strong Creek at frequent intervals.

The trail is splendid and its numerous switch-backs offer ever changing scenery. Beautiful Lake Pend d’ Oreille can be seen from these advantageous places, white mists struggling up from the lake, orange sunbeams beating their way into the shadows, the whole a touch of untamed beauty which belongs to no man and no civilization. Frequent ice cold springs are encountered, garnished with ferns which are truly beautiful.”…..

After much sliding and gliding and crossing several of the most beautiful and natural mountain streams God ever created we at last sighted the much coveted stream, Big Lightning. I assembled my rod, a flash of scarlet appeared on the surface and the fight was on. We landed a sufficient number of the speckled beauties for the evening feed. Going a little farther to the Rattle Creek Ranger Station, we made our permanent camp. The fish were prepared and we had a feed of our lives. Beds were made of boughs and everyone was ready to retire early.

Early the next morning a light shower prompted my friend to rise early and slip up the creek. He returned with 22 fine specimens of cut throats. We soon had a breakfast fit for a king.”…..

“The falls view was a beautiful sight to behold. I have viewed all the famous canyons and waterfalls of southern California of which the natives boast, but none can even compare with this. The pool below the falls abounds in fish. Here the girls caught trout with the ease of Isaac Walton, the patron saint of the road.”…..

Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness is a non-profit organization. The proceeds from all events and sales benefit our wilderness preservation efforts. Donations are tax deductible.

Mission Statement
“We believe that the 88,000 acre Scotchman Peaks roadless area, spanning the Idaho/Montana border, deserves permanent protection as wilderness. Faced with growth and change, we want to make sure this special place stays the same.”

Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, Inc. (FSPW)
PO Box 2061
Sandpoint, ID 83864
Website: Friends of Scotchman Peaks.org

Lightning Creek ends in the town of Clark Fork, ID where it empties into the mighty Clark Fork River which it in turn empties into Lake Pend d’ Oreille. Access is very easy from the lower portion which crosses scenic Idaho highway 200.

Come fly fish Idaho with us.

The Idaho Angler (IdahoAngler@live.com)

Tags: Big Horn, Montana
           Bull River Hogs
           Kootenai River Heaven

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Freshwater Shrimp

"Freshwater Shrimp" was written by YellowStoneFly at the Idaho Fly Fishers blog. For other simple fly tying instructions, suggested Idaho rivers and fishing techniques visit our blog often. In the summertime, look in shallow, warm shoals for shrimp. Check out the color and size (most will be 8-12) before tying. Most large rivers are loaded with these critters. Hungry trout love them and you will frequently get very dramatic takes particularly on the swing just before the re-cast. Idaho fly fishers like to dangle this fly just below the surface and "twitch" the rod a couple of times before the next cast. This is a great technique if you are wade fishing in shallow areas. Some fly tiers prefer a more curved hook than pictured below. I like this hook because, when swimming, the shrimp tend to straighten out. Just make sure your uropods (tail made from phesant tippet) extend to the curve and point slightly down.

*** If you desire eyes on your shrimp, take a piece of 1-0 tippet and cut 1/8"-1/4" piece and add a drop of epoxy glue to each end. After it dries, color black with a permanent maker and tie in pattern just behind biots on top of the shank.
Wrap thread and then strands of phesant tippet.

Add flashbou to body. Wrap to curve.

Add silver wire for weight and body segments.

Now add dubbing of choice. Thicker toward eye.

Tie in goose biots for antennae.

Swing flashbou forward and tie in behind biots.

Wrap silver wire forward and tie behind biots.

Half hitch tread behind biots. Head glue if desired. Done.

Live shrimp. *** Can add eyes if desired. See above.
Come on over, or up as the case may be, and try Idaho fly fishing. We have beautiful country here and rivers that will blow your socks off. Fly fishing Idaho and the northwest should be a "bucket list" experience for all avid fly fishers. Is doesn't matter whether you live in the US, Canada, Russia, England or China, if you love the sport, you owe it to yourself to try us out.

Happy Idaho fly fishing,

The Idaho Angler (IdahoAngler@live.com)
          A "Perfect" Fly
          Moyie River, Idaho
          Kootenai River, Idaho

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bull River Hogs

The Bull parallels MT Hwy 56
"Bull River Hogs" was composed by YellowStoneFly at the Idaho Fly Fishers blog; the site for current NW fly fishing information. Took a quick trip into Montana on April 15th, tax day, to check out several rivers. My last visit was to the Bull, one of Montana's premier freestone streams. The flats are flooded from rain and snow melt, but the river water is beginning to receed back into the river bed. The water is obviously 1-2 feet below the crest of a week ago. It is definitely floatable in a raft or drift boat. 

11.5 mile raft / canoe access
I do not know what the ideal cfs flow rate is for this river but, if the rain stops, there should be excellent fishing soon. This is great Montana fly fishing. You will not find a more beautiful high mountain valley anywhere and it is right smack in the middle of the Cabinet Mountain range. For directions go to blog post "The Bull River, Montana" or send me a note or comment for more specific directions if needed.

Typical valley vista - Easy float
In the spring, I would try a Brown Drake (absolutely the best Bull dry), Clouser minnow or black/olive wooly bugger. Sometimes golden stones and large hare's ear nymphs will bring success as well. Whatever you fish make it big. A little flash would not hurt either. There really are some large bulls, browns and cutthroats in this river. Make sure you do not keep the bulls. Oh yeah, it is a new year so do not forget your 2011 Montana fishing license. There is a C-store approximately 3 miles east of the river on Montana highway 200 that sells licenses. Out-of-state licenses are now $70 for the year.

South facing from 8 mile bridge
So why does a north Idaho fly fishing nut enjoy the Bull River? As I have already mentioned, the scenery is incredible! The area I like to fish is from the canoe access at milepost 11.5 down to the ramp (I use that term loosely but you can get a trailer in with only modest difficulty) at the 8 mile bridge. Do try fishing near the bridge for I have seen some hogs beneath it. This is a very easy, relaxing float that takes 4-5 hours and you have basically few rapids to fight. If you need a shuttle or a guide for the day, try Dave Blackburn at the Kootenai Angler or the Kootenai River Outfitters located at the north end of highway 56. They are great people and very knowledgeable about the local waters.  

North facing from 8 mile bridge
If you want to make your visit into a few days or an entire week, talk with these guys about the Kootenai, the Moyie and the Clark Fork. All of these rivers are within an hour or two of the Bull. Another really good, but wade fishing only river, is the Thompson River. It is only a stone's throw of the Bull just east of Thompson Falls, MT. Water level there was perfect on tax day.

Enjoy your trip and come try out the fly fishing in Idaho and NW Montana.

Idaho Angler (IdahoAngler@live.com

          Idaho Fly Fishers.com

Bull River Cutty caught on a Brown Drake 6/14/2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

San Juan Worm

"San Juan Worm" written by the YellowStoneFly at the  Idaho Fly Fishers blogspot is providing very simple tying instructions for this, possibly the easiest of all flies to tie. Idaho fly fishing, and any state for that matter, would be alot less successful without this fly. Effective sizes range from 6-22 and chenille colors, you pick. I would suggest using fairly dense standard or "ultra" materials which are readily available at any fly material website or retail merchant.

This fly can be fished at any time, but is most effective in cloudy or slightly cloudy water as a result of rain or run off. It seems also to be more effective when the water has begun to warm. Weight and fish close to the bottom at a "dead drift", although I occasionally catch fish with a little "lift" at the end of a drift. Try cinnamon, red, pink, neutral or brown for the best results in my opinion. Come fly fish Idaho and give the San Juan a whirl.

Back wrap thread onto shank. Use the same
color as your chenille.
Secure chenille with a couple of thread wraps near
the bend of hook.
Wrap thread towards the eye. Leave a little space and
no need to completely cover hook.
Wrap chenille around shank toward eye. This forms the
worm's clitellum*.  Now, half hitch the thread at
in front of your chenille and glue if desired.
Singe the ends of your chenille with lighter. This avoids
fraying. Length of worm is a personal choice.
Finished fly. Try it. Really is very easy to tie!
*The clitellum is a thickened glandular section of the body wall in earthworms and leeches, that secretes a viscid sac in which the eggs are deposited.

Happy Idaho fly fishing!

Idaho Angler (IdahoAngler@live.com)

Tags: Blog Quick View
          Idaho Fly Fishers Association
          Idaho Fly Fishers.com

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Moyie River - What, where, when?.

Bussard Mountain Bridge
"Moyie River - What, where, when" was written by YellowStoneFly for the Idaho Fly Fishers blog. Fly fishing Idaho would not be complete without trying out the Moyie. Fly fishers are frequently asking me where it is located and how to get there. Well, if you google "Eastport, ID" in their maps section, the Moyie flows due south out of Canada right through Eastport. If you live within 500 miles you may want to drive to the river. A greater distance than that it would pay to fly; or you could go to Sandpoint, ID on the Amtrak and rent a car. You can fly into Spokane, WA or Kalispell, MT or Missoula, MT and be at the river within 3 1/2 - 4  hours. From Spokane you simply take I-90 east, turn north on US 95 at Coeur d'Alene, ID taking you into Eastport and the river. From Kalispell you take US 2 west to Bonners Ferry, ID and then north on US 95 until you hit the river (about 45 minutes). From Missoula take US 93 north to US 200 west to MT 56 north to US 2 into Bonners Ferry then US 95 north to your destination. 

South of Bussard Monutani Bridge
The Moyie River is open all year and the only special regulation is a two trout limit. Bull trout are illegal to harvest but most of the fish in the upper Moyie are brook trout which have a limit of 25 per day. Spring run off can be very unpredictable, the water can be fast and a raft is absolutely necessary this time of year. The remainder of the year, the flow is low and steady and very amenable to wade fishing. There are many places in the upper section to stop and wade so do bring your waders. The area below Meadow Creek, which comes in about half way down, are more difficult to get to and I would not suggest you try without 4 wheel drive. There is a great little wading area just above the whitewater raft takeout above the lake and dam. It is a little hard to find, but if you stop at the "Little Mall of America" as it is called (the general store and gas station on the west side of the big bridge which crosses the Moyie below the dam) and ask George Elliott, the proprietor, how to get to the river above the dam, he will tell you. I have caught some really nice 18+ inch cutties there. Another great wading area down low is at the Twin Rivers Canyon Resort. It is owned by the Kootenai Indians and is only a short (switch back) drive from the "Mall". Again, ask for directions at the store if you do not see the sign east of the bridge. There is a small day charge if you fish there.

Bussard Creek
In the spring, even though the water is unpredictable, the fish are ravenous and will pound large foam stonefly patterns. I would also bring large wooly buggers in olive and black and make 'em big. Some streamers can work as well like the Clouser Minnow. Flash is good here in the spring. You and a friend can easily bag 50 brookies here per day in the spring if in a raft. In the summer as the water warms, the fishing changes. Early summer try smaller (14-18) PMD's and Adams dry patterns along with hare's ear nymphs and San Juan worms (particularly after a good rain). Once July hits the large hoppers (6-10) come out and they extend until October some years. Once November arrives, the fishing slows and it's back to streamers and nymphs. 

Swimming Hole
ROW adventures says on their website: "The Moyie River, one of Idaho's best kept whitewater rafting secrets, is an adventure not to be missed. ROW pioneered these 11-15 mile rafting trips on the Moyie River in 1981, and every spring we delight in sharing this hidden whitewater rafting jewel with guests of all abilities." It is not only a great whitewater rafting secret, but it is a great fly fishing secret as well. I do not know of any outfitter, unless it is ROW, who will take you fishing in a raft here, but you could ask them. I do know though that this river may hold the eventually Idaho state record brook trout and I have personally seen some 10 pound rainbow hanging in a few deep holes in the summer when the water is low and clear. You know, there is a guy by the name of Dave Blackburn at Kootenai Angler who now has an Idaho guide license. He might take you and if he doesn't he may know the name of someone who might. Tell him Jack Childress from the Idaho Hope Peninsula referred you. If he won't go to the Moyie, I am sure he could provide a great trip on the Kootenai or Bull river.  

South facing on the Moyie
Idaho fly fishing is a bucket list item all fly fishers should experience. Come see our beautiful state and witness the glory of fly fishing Idaho. Good luck and email me any time with questions. We also appreciate all blog comments and we really, really like followers at blogspot. Enjoy!

PS-Spoke with a whitewater rafting friend. He said the Moyie should be 1800 cfs or less for the best fishing. You can find out the flow information by going to USGS WaterWatch and clicking on the Moyie River at Eastport, ID button.

The Idaho Angler (IdahoAngler@live.com)

 <---------- Big Horn Browns !!!!
           Idaho Fly Fishers.com
          Big Horn River Browns