I have no doubt in my mind that fall is the most badass season of the year. There are so many options for the fly fisher. My favorite part about it is that there is other distraction out there that sometimes takes people away from the river or at least the rivers I like to fish. Hunting season is in full swing by October and then there is always college and NFL football distracting people. Even among fishermen on the Wet-side of the state, many of them are targeting coho, chinook and chum salmon.
Brian Chou swinging the Grain Elevator on the Snake
The past four years I have made an annual week long trip to fish. After a killer week last year on the Lower Ronde and Snake, I could not resist to make it out there again. The Snake above and below Hellers Bar is filled with sweeping runs and boulder fields that hold both Snake river fish as well as Ronde and Salmon River fish. The Lower Ronde has a no kill zone in the lower river and for the most part just fly fishermen with good etiquette and serious anglers.
Every year there are a group of hard core anglers in their golden age that are lucky enough to be retired and be able to spend the entire season in this area. Most of them come every year and know each other very well. I envy them and have been able to learn a lot from a few of them. My favorite character out there is a guy named Bob Evans. We call Bob, Dry Fly Bob because he only fishes a dry line. He spends his summer on the Henrys Fork and then shows up on the Ronde in September. He is a rough around the edges, chain smoker vet who talks mad shit about nymphers and tip fishermen. You got to love him because he is mostly kidding, but he shocks the shit out of people who do not know him.
This trip I got to fish a lot of friends at different times of the week and at times it seemed like a Washington Fly Fishing convention and for both weekends the Montana Metal Militia kept me company. The most amazing part of the week came after a shuttled a few guys from Seattle to Hellers Bar after they floated Bogans to the Mouth. They guys invited me to dinner and after scallops and steak, I knew I was in for it. The next couple of days I shared gourmet meals and fishing with them. Ode, Ed, Jeff and Rick, I owe you many beers.
One of the larger fish I caught this year. Photo: g_smolt
Now back to the fishing, the steelhead were a lot bigger this season then in the past and I was able to land a few brutes. This area is blessed with far more native steelhead then in my local waters and after fighting a few fish you knew after the hookup what was hatchery and what was native. Native steelhead are just full of piss and vinegar and makes their hatchery counterparts look like mere trout. I caught a lot of fish and lost a lot of fish, but overall the fishing was great and I learned a lot from both water time as well as picking Bob’s brain.
Brian working a Clearwater fish.
Although I nymphed a little, especially when my friend Mark aka g_smolt from Neil Creek Chronicle fame showed up from AK, I kept to the long rod and picked up way more fish on the swing this year. The highlights of the trip being Chou landing a Clearwater fish on a day trip to Idaho, landing a couple double digit fish, watching g_smolt show why switch rods are effective, having my boy Bove pick my pocket three times on a day he landed eight and kicking back a few beers with the boys.
Mark Bove with one of three fish he picked from my pocket one day on the Ronde.
Next year BC!
2 hours ago