I live in Idaho Falls close to some of the best fishing in the world, the Henry’s Fork, the Fall River, the Teton River, and the South Fork. This is by design, of course. Of all those big rivers, I struggle most with the mighty South Fork of the Snake River, a monstrous river loaded with cutthroat and brown trout. Sure, I’ve had some stellar days on this river, but I’ve experienced far more disappointing days where I was lucky to get a fish or two. Many times I have walked away with the essence of Pepe Le Pew. You could say that the South Fork’s finicky nature has never endeared me to it. That is, until last Monday.
With the summer-like temperatures lately in Eastern Idaho, I have been bitten by the fishing bug something fierce. Last Saturday morning, I went to my usual spot on the Snake River, that I lovingly call “The Mini-Madison,” but I have yet to move a fish there this year. So after a half hour of fruitless casting, I decided to broaden my horizons and head to the South Fork. I traveled over to the Big Feeder Canal Diversion and fished around there for a while with no luck, so I headed up river, but did not find any ideal water for a wade fishermen.
As a last-ditch effort, I headed down river past Heise and found some excellent holding water where the river divides into various channels and takes on the character of the smaller rivers that I love. The river level was perfect and I could wade out to some excellent holding water. I actually caught a nice cutthroat and a white fish just before it was time to head home, but my appetite to fish had not been satiated in the least bit.
I don’t fish on Sundays, as I believe in observing the Sabbath. However, I was thinking about the South Fork all day and the potential of this new-found area as a go-to spot, which kind of reminds me of that old saying: “It’s better to be out fishing thinking about God than to be at church thinking about fishing.” I know it’s important to be at church, but there are times . . .
Monday rolled around and it was absolutely beautiful, but I had to work. When I got home that evening, I asked my wife, “Kristin, can we take the family out for an evening of fishing?”
“I guess so, but are you going to fish the whole time or are you going to help the kids?” She asked sternly.
“I promise I will help the kids.” I assured her.
As we packed the Yukon, the kids invited our two neighbor boys, Dreyden and Skyler, along for the outing. With my huge clan and two extras, we were packed in like sardines in the Yukon, but we all had a smile on our face and I had that unmistakable feeling that we were in for a banner night.
Below is my journal entry from this night:
We again went to the stretch of river below Heise and it was absolutely phenomenal. I found this ripple where the fish were stacked up. At first I was hitting a marginal area with my casts and caught a few fish, but then I cast up into the shallower head of the riffle and had a strike. I instantly sensed that the bulk of the fish were in that shallower area of the riffle picking off the copious table-fare that came their way. After that, the action was fast and furious. I would hook the fish and then hand the rod over to the kids. Each kid reeled in about 3 to 4 fish each.
The coolest thing of the night was when little Skyler, the younger of the two neighbor boys, cast the Ugly Stick rigged with a Panther Martin out into the riffle and hooked the biggest trout of the night, a 16-inch brown trout. I’ll never forget the look of that cute kid as he squealed with pleasure and struggled against a monster trout that he cast to and hooked all by himself. That’s what it is all about! I had to help him reel in the fish because of the junky reel we have on the Ugly Stick.
I really felt like this was the perfect night to spend time with my kids and their friends. The kids were thrilled with our success and I had a blast. For once, my appetite to catch fish had been satisfied. We drove home in the dark and I called Dreyden and Skyler’s grandpa and asked him to let Dreyden and Skyler’s mother know why we were so late.
I’m convinced that the quality of the fishing was no coincidence; it was Divine Providence! I went back the following night by myself and the river had risen about six inches. The water level had raised from 12,000 cfs to 13,800 cfs in one twenty-four hour period. While I caught five decent trout, it was nowhere near the quality of the fishing the night before. With the increased flows, the rivers temperatures had dropped and without waders, the river was extremely cold. We hit it perfectly Monday night! No doubt we had a little help.
This morning, as I write this, the South Fork is over 18,000 cfs. The area that we fished is completely underwater and will not be fishable for weeks. Notwithstanding, I am warming up to the South Fork. I can honestly say that I cannot wait to go back when the waters recede . . . with the kids, of course. I’m convinced blessings come when we take kids fishing!
Author’s Note: If you like this story, check out my book, Heaven on Earth Stories of Fly Fishing, Fun & Faith, at www.heavenonearthbook.com. I’m sure you’ll love it. Thanks for stopping by.
KEEP FISHIN’ WITH FAITH!