Snake River Blues

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Saturday April 20, 2019

While contemplating my next fly fishing adventure I began to think that the Owyhee River would be a good bet.  Last week I ventured to a cool little spring creek outside Hagerman Idaho called Riley Creek where I enjoyed casting to small rising wild rainbows during a Blue Winged Olive hatch.  I always enjoy Riley Creek, it’s beautiful, wide, shallow and holds a lot of trout.  It’s not the place you go for huge trout especially where I like to fish which is below the National Hatchery, but you can pick up a few nice sized trout on the creek over by the State Hatchery.

So after watching all those small rainbows rising on Riley it’s only appropriate that I head to the “O” and rip a lip or two on some huge trout for a change of diet.  However, there were quite a few reports coming in from the “O” that the fishing had slowed down and anglers where coming back with stories of no trout caught.  I had two other cards to play; I could go on up to the Deadwood River which was flowing at 55 cfs or head out and fly fish the Snake River downstream from Swan Fall just south of Boise.

The Snake River this time of year has always been my ace in the hole for catching lots of Smallmouth Bass.  Historically this time of the year I can fish the Snake without seeing another fly angler for miles.  I can catch lots of aggressive Smallmouths and even land a trout or two.  The Deadwood Rive is about a week away from being a great place to fish especially with the addition of rainbows spawning up from the South Fork of the Payette. If you don’t mind driving about 20 minutes outside Garden Valley Idaho then it can be a good bet.  The Deadwood Rive in the spring can be huge if your timing is right.

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Historically the Snake has been good to me and I haven’t fished the Snake this year yet so the Snake River won out.   Saturday morning I woke up early and spent an hour or two getting my gear set up to fish for bass.  Changing into a bass rod, switching spools to cast sink tip line and digging up all my bass fly boxes made the job a long one.  At about 10 am I left for the river.  As I got close to arriving at the river the scenery on the Snake River Plain is just beautiful to say the least.  That scenery got my fishing blood boiling knowing I would see the river in just a few minutes.  As I rounded the bend in the road and got my first view of the river my boiling blood became frozen.  The Snake River was bank to bank, dirty and running fast.  I drove the dirt road along the river to the end of the road and only identified two places where I had the slightest chance of making a decent cast.

The problem was at these two places I only had about ten feet to fish.  I just couldn’t get the right drift or the right cast.  After trying for about 15 minutes at each spot I gave up.  The Snake had stung me pretty good.  Although I always check the river flows on a daily basis I let my confidence and history of fly fishing this river win me over.  I didn’t catch any fish that day but like all fly fishermen we never stop learning.  If I would simply check the river flows I would have chosen the Deadwood and probably done better.  I’m not going to be like a lot of fly fishing bloggers who only tell you of their successes and talents.  I instead will tell you about the days when I don’t do as well or the days when the trout school me instead of me them.  I won’t give up on the Snake this year.  I’ll be back, but I’ll be back when the wizard behind the curtain in the dam decides to drop the water flows to where I have half a chance.  So I guess it’s back to the “O”.  Tight lines………………………….

Mike Sandifer