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New Waters

 

One of the best aspects of the sport of Fly Fishing, in my opinion, is experiencing new waters and the areas in which they are located. Some of my best flyfishing memories are of the people and places I have experienced while exploring new waters. It's pretty easy to get into a rut and head to places where you know the water, access, and methods to be successful and while I often fell into this rut myself, I find that most of my best memories are from the people I've met and places I've been while chasing trout. The size and numbers of fish caught are often secondary, in fact they sometimes don't even play a part in the memory. I was often guilty in my early years of heading out to explore the east slope brown trout streams of Alberta, the Fallen Timber, Burnt Timber and Dogpound were often the destination, the only problem was that Stauffer Creek, my "home" stream lay in between and after a couple hours of driving I always seemed unable to pass it by without wetting a line, often spending the day and never reaching my destination.

Stauffer Creek Alberta

Stauffer Creek Alberta

One trip that holds some great memories for me was when one fall I headed to the Jackson Hole area of Wyoming during the famous Jackson Hole One Fly contest. A fund raiser for Trout Unlimited that drew teams from all over the world for a weekend of very friendly competition all to raise money for the local T.U. chapter. While not officially in the competition organizer Jack Dennis had invited me to be a spare angler as more often than not someone was AWOL and a substitute was needed. My fishing partner Bob and I loaded the camper for what was be a two week fishing excursion with the only set item on the agenda, the "One Fly". We arrived in Jackson Hole a few days early and met up with Jack at his shop to say hi, get the rundown of where and when for the "One Fly", Jack surprised us with invites to the whole event, a wine and cheese meet and greet on Friday night, Saturday night supper, a wind-up dinner and auction on Sunday, the whole shebang!

Jackson Hole One Fly Contest in Wyoming

Jackson Hole One Fly Contest in Wyoming

With a couple of days to kill we threw out a couple of river names we might try in the meantime, but Jack had other plans for us. That night at dinner, on a napkin that I still have, Jack drew a map of the Wind River Indian Reservation, a couple of rivers we should try and where to buy our fishing permits. We spent a couple of days catching browns and rainbows on the Wind and Bull Rivers, we saw no one else fishing, only the odd local who gave us a friendly wave, I don't know that we caught a ton of fish but I do remember one good size brown that Bob caught that broke most of the "rules for brown trout", it was in about a foot of water, in bright sunshine and he ate the hopper pattern like nobody was looking and I'm sure he was as surprised as Bob as to what had just transpired.

Fishing the Wind and Bull Rivers on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming

Brown Trout fishing on the Wind and Bull River in Wyoming

The next day found us invited to fish a spring creek that was located on the property of Ed Opler, who I had never heard of, Jack had arranged it and when we arrived at the beautiful log home we went in to introduce ourselves and find out the lay of the land. There were a couple of ladies at the table, one was Eds' wife, the other Joan Wulff, the first lady of flyfishing in town for the One Fly contest and staying with the Oplers. Ed apologized that he couldn't show us around and wasn’t able to join us for fishing, but had some stuff to attend to. We had a great day of casting dry flies to rising cutthroats, accompanied by Ed’s dog, who liked to sniff every fish we caught. It wasn't until I got home that I found out that Ed was the owner of World Famous Chocolates, yep the same ones your kids and mine, and our grandchildren sell for school fundraisers. Seemed Ed spent 3 or 4 days a week in Chicago and returned to his summer home in Jackson Hole on the weekends. I still can't believe how down to earth he was and how he seemed really disappointed not to be able to fish with us. We never did get to compete in the One Fly that year but there we a couple of extra guides that were also there as back up so we spent a couple of days floating the Snake with a couple of off duty guides, not bad.

Casting dry flies to rising Cutthroat in Wyoming

Casting dry flies to rising Cutthroat in Wyoming

Another memorable trip to new waters was to Silver Creek located in southern Idaho. I had heard about Silver Creek but probably wouldn't have ever gone except I somehow managed to buy two days of guided fishing including accommodations at a Trout Unlimited dinner and auction. The trip was a real eye opener, we were to stay in Ketchum, Idaho (great fishing name) in Sun Valley, which is a playground for the rich and famous, extremely upscale and pricey, in other words way out of my league. Ketchum is a town that everybody there is from out of town, nobody that works there, lives there, the town of Hailey 12 miles to the south accommodates most of the working people and Hwy. 75 suffers from grid lock every morning and evening with commuter traffic. I have several memories from that trip, the first being dinner that night at a steak house, now Idaho is famous for its potatoes and when they said the steak came with one I was not prepared for the size of it. The potato came on its own dinner plate and was by far the biggest spud I have ever seen!


When we met at the fly shop the next day and met our guide there were a couple of things that they did differently. First Jeff took out an order pad and took our request for lunch, we chose the type of sandwich we wanted, type of salad, what kind of cookies, beverages etc. and then went and phoned it in to a local deli, fifteen minutes later on our way to the river we stopped and there were ours lunches individually packed and labelled! Next Jeff started selecting flies for our two days on the water, he explained that he would choose a bunch of flies for us and we would only pay for what we used at the end of the trip, very civilized, though being a fly junkie I think I ended up buying all of them plus more anyways.


The next thing that I remember actually has something to do with fishing, we were on the Nature Conservancy part of the creek where public access is as easy as signing into the log book at the parking lot. As we approached the water it seemed like trout were everywhere, big pods of fish feeding on Tricos, a small mayfly. I wanted to rush in and start casting but Jeff had some instructions for us, we were to select a pod to fish to and approach them from above and send drag free downstream drifts to them, these were extremely educated trout. The last thing Jeff said was try not to herd the pod, huh? Well we got in and started fishing and I soon came to understand the herding part, no matter how stealthy I was the pod seemed to know I was there and they kept dropping downstream ever so slightly, just out of comfortable casting distance. After 20 minutes or so Jeff instructed me to get out of the creek and let the fish return to their area, sure enough I had herded them 30 yards or so downstream of where I had started! He explained that this was quite common and as we spoke the fish sure enough moved back up stream to their original spot, without a guide I would have had them in the next county in no time.

Silver Creek in Sun Valley Idaho

Silver Creek in Sun Valley Idaho

The next day there was a little breeze so Jeff suggested we go to the area downstream from the Kilpatrick Bridge, the area at the bottom end of the Conservancy property. When we arrived the creek was a lot broader and slower than upstream and Jeff proceeded to pull out three float tubes, again scratching my head I asked if we were going lake fishing but he explained that we would be wading as normal but the tubes would keep us from sinking into the muddy bottom and perhaps disappearing into a deep hole. This method proved very successful as while the water was like glass when the breeze didn't blow, every time it did we seemed to connect with fish using the rippled water to camouflage our leaders. The tubes worked great, several times my feet left the bottom, but they proved to be an innovative solution to a fishing problem.


I've had some failures with exploring new waters but the few fails are all outweighed 100 to one by the experiences I've had seeking out new waters. The early years on S.E. British Columbia's' Elk River and its' tributaries, before the crowds and the restrictive regulations would not have been possible if we hadn't strayed away from the tried and true Crowsnest River area. The time Gary LaFontaine showed me the Little Blackfoot river near his home of Dearlodge Montana, small stream brown trout fishing at its' best. This year I have a couple of leads that I plan on following up on, may be epic, maybe an epic fail, but it will bring with the thrill of exploring new places, people and water.

Brown Trout fishing in Little Blackfoot River Dearlodge Montana

Little Blackfoot River near Dearlodge Montana


Previous Fishing Articles

(1) Small stream BT fishing

(2) Fly fishing beyond Trout: getting started

(3) In The Walleye Zone

(4) Zoo Trout

(5) Fly Selection for Beginners

(6) Fly Fisher's Christmas

(7) New Waters

(8) Big Bad Burbot

(9) Looking Back

(10) Out of Africa

(11) Finding Success on Crowded Trout Streams

(12) Mountain Peaks, Fast Streams, Fall Colours And Rocky Mountain Whitefish

(13) The Browns of Autumn

(14) Fly-Fishing Pike Through The Seasons

(15) Walleye Town

(16) River Fun - One Bite At A Time

(17) Fly Fishing Larger Rivers

(18) Going With The Flow

(19) Becoming A Better Fly Fisherman

(20) Swinging The Fences

(21) A View From The Aerie

(22) Dixieland Delight

(23) Atlantic Salmon - The Fish of 1000 Casts

(24) Do It Yourself Pink Salmon

(25) Montana's Cool Missouri

(26) Pretty Is As Pretty Does

(27) Toothy Critters

(28) Hard Water Lakers at Cold Lake

(29) Top Ten Flies

(30) Northern Exposure

(31) Home Water Lessons

(32) Chicken Of The Sea

(33) Sealing the Deal – How to Ensure You Land More Fish

(34) Deep In The Heart Of Texas

(35) Keep It Up!

(36) River Fishing for Fall Walleye

(37) After the Flood - A look at Southern Alberta rivers and streams one year after the flood

(38) Reindeer Lake - A Diversity of Opportunity

(39) Hawg Holes

(40) Saltwater Salmon

(41) Early Season Dry Fly Fishing

(42) Down a Lazy River –
A Fly-rodding Adventure on the Lower North Saskatchewan

(43) The Fly Fishing Season Ahead

(44) IN SEARCH OF SPECKLED FOOTBALLS

(45) FISHING CANADA'S PRAIRIE CITIES

(46) Bright Fish from the Land of Silver

(47) Canada's "Other" Salmon

(48) Fall Walleye

(49) Wet Flies

(50) Versatility the Key to Success

(51) Grayling of the Boreal

(52) Teaching Kids To Fly Fish

(53) Size Matters

(54) Fly Fishing Small Streams

(55) Chasing Winter Whites One Lake At A Time

(56) Manitoba's Fishing Jewel

(57) The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas

(58) The Point Of It All

(59) Fishing With Friends-Big Weather Seizing The Day

(60) Fall Fly Fishing

(61) Personal Pontoon Boats 101

(62) Big River, Big Fish

(63) Bottom Bonanza

(64) Fishing Small Flies

(65) So Many Choices, So Little Time

(66) Four Seasons of the Bow

(67) Favourite Lakes - Some Like it Hot

(68) GEARING UP FOR SMALL STREAM TROUT

(69) Trout Hunting - New Zealand-style

(70) Don’t Leave Home Without Them –
10 Lures That Should Be In Everyone’s Tackle Box

(71) Edge Walleye

(72) FLY FISHING STRATEGIES FOR HIGH WATER

(73) Smallmouth Bass – An Oft Overlooked Challenge

(74) Four Corners – Four Waters

(75) Chasing Pothole Trout

(76) Springtime Stoneflies

(77) The Torrents of Spring

(78) Drift Boat Fly Fishing

(79) Bust Them With Bait

(80) Cure the Winter Blues with a Good Book

(81) Hot Strategies for the Cold Months

(82) Cutthroat: The Angler's Trout

(83) Terrestrials

(84) Fly In For Fishing Fun

(85) Rocky Mountain High

(86) Reading the clues

(87) Where the Trout Are
The art of locating feeding trout
in rivers and streams.

(88) K.I.S.S. and Tell Fly-fishin

(89) Fly Fishing 101

(90) To Catch a Big Halibut, or Ling Cod

(91) The Bountiful Bones of Ascension Bay

(92) Grayling in the Eye of the Beholder

(93) Fly Fishing for South Fork Clearwater Steelhead

(94) Manitoba's Red River - North America's Catfish Capital

(95) Eliminating the Spook Factor

(96) Trust Your Electronics

(97) The Most Important Hatch of the Year

(98) Early Season Nymph Fishing for Trout

(99) Finding Success for Ice Trout

(100) Walleye can be Humbling

(101) The Secret to Landing the Big One Finally Revealed

(102) Winter Flyfishing

(103) North Saskatchewan River - An Underutilized Gem

(104) Hot Fall Pike Action

(105) Tips and Tricks to Save the Summer Slow Down

(106) Reading Trout Stream Waters

(107) Frequently Asked Questions

(108) Streamer Fishing for Larger Trout

(109) The Lure of Big Walleye at Last Ice

(110) Deep Water Perch

(111) Post Spawn Brookies

(112) A Fisher's Life

(113) The River's Last Stand

(114) The Big Ones Come out at Night

(115) Coho on the Coast

(116) Chasing and Catching Halibut

(117) Summer in the Mountains

(118) Peak Walleye Season

(119) Slow and Steady Wins the Race

(120) Last Ice Rainbows

(121) The Burbot Event

(122) Tackle Matching

(123) Ice Fishing Strategy #2 - Going Light

(124) Ice Fishing Strategy #1 - Location

(125) The Lure of Brook Trout

(126) The Shallow Water Hunt is On

(127) Hot Backswimmer Action Happening Right Now

(128) Fishing Among Giants-Pursuing Lake Sturgeon on the Prairies

(129) Adventure at Davin Lake Lodge, Northern Saskatchewan

(130) The Vesatile Plug

(131) Bead Head Flies, Plugs and Shot and other Spring Favorites for Pothole Trout

(132) Planning your Upcoming Angling Adventures

(133) Good Fishing at Last Ice

(134) Maximize the Odds - Use Multiple Presentations

(135) Daily Fish Migrations

(136) Fish Migrations - Following the Spawn

(137) Lake Whitefish - An Ice Fishing All Star

(138) Pick Your Favorite Brook Trout Lake...and Go Fishing

(139) A Look Ahead to Great Trout Fishing

(140) Wrestling White Sturgeon on the Fraser

(141) The Fun in Ultra Light

(142) Flyfishing and Leadcore Lines

(143) Embrace the Spirit of Adventure

(144) Never Stop Learning

(145) Ice Fishing is Getting Hot

(146) Jigging through the Ice

(147) An Ice Fishing Unsung Hero – The Setline

(148) Rainbows on Ice

(149) The Season of Ice Begins

(150) Red Hot Fall Pike Action

(151) Hitting it Right with Water Boatman

(152) Facts On Cats

(153) West Coast Adventure

(154) June Walleye Frenzy

(155) Aerated Lakes are Big Trout Factories

(156) "First Fish of the Year - Pothole Rainbows and Browns"

(157) "Northern Exposure"

(158) Sometimes There is More to Fishing Than Catching Fish

(159) Early Season Pike On The Fly

(160) Man Overboard