Right after my trip down to the Sawtooths to do a bit of fishing, I was right back to Idaho again for the weekend, but this time up north to the Panhandle region with my buddy Bob to search for some westslope cutthroat. On Saturday we didn't get to the river till late afternoon, but upon arriving we had the place to ourselves and with fish rising things were looking up.
Knowing that the fish were feeding it was just a matter of figuring out what they would be keying in on. My first guess for a fly was a hopper as they seemed to be jumping around everywhere in along the river. However upon presenting this pattern to several visable cutthroat, there was no sign of interest whatsoever so I decided to switch things up a bit. After a few changes, I finally noticed some blue winged olives coming off and switch to some 6x and a size 18 bwo dry. As Bob seemed to be getting a few fish already downstream a bit it appeared that had figured out what they wanted, so I hoped that choice would work. Luckily it did and within a couple casts I spotted a riser and although I missed the take, I at least got him to rise to my fly.
With the next fish my timing was a bit better and when he rose to the fly I got a good hook set and had a nice fish on. Give the size of this cutthroat and the 6x tippet, I set the drag a bit loose to protect the tippet and allowed the fish to do his thing a bit more. Within a couple minutes this worked out and I eased a beautiful 16" westslope into the net.
A beautiful westslope cutthroat
Another shot of the westsloper
Although severe headache made sure that this was the only cutthroat that I got that evening, I did hook a few others before even the temptation of rising fish wasn't enough to keep me on the water. Plus after catching my largest westslope cutthroat to date it would be hard to complain about the fishing. Bob did a bit better overall, landing a total of seven cutthroat on a combination of caddis larvae and bwo patterns.
The upper river
With a good nights sleep I was rearing to go the next day and as we had a bit more time to spend on the river and with some summery weather we decided to head a bit further upstream. We found a spot where a small tributary added its flow and with the advantage of some high ground we quickly spotted some fish. Knowing that there were fish in the area we hit the water again and trying the hopper over again I found it to be a bit more successful, especially when fished with a dropper.
While the hopper and dropper seemed to each get a pretty even split in their catch rate at two a piece, the hopper got the larger fish a beautiful 14"er that refused to be photographed. However as the day progressed the bwo's started hatching again and the fish keyed in on them and so I rigged with my 1wt with a size 18 cdc emerger and immediately started getting into more consistent fishing although everything seemed to be in the 6" to 10" range.
Light gear and native trout = lots of fun
For the rest of the day we experienced some of the better match the hatch fishing that the west has to offer and although none of the fish were overly huge they were all beautiful natives. However all good things must come to an end and before long the road was calling us for the long drive back home.