February 1, 2012

Black Canyon 1_27_2012

The closest water open right now is the Black Canyon of the Bear River, near Grace, ID.  It is where I go when I need to get out of the house and I want to catch a few fish. The Bear River isn't know for its world class fly fishing but there are a few section that do quite well. The Black Canyon is one of them. It is my usual winter fly fishing destination -- the Henry's Fork being a little further away than I usually want to drive in snow. The river is fed by hundreds of springs as it works its way down through a basalt strewn canyon. The fish are generally "put and take" rainbows ranging in size from 6 to 14 inches, with the average of 9 inches. The river is stocked only in the summer so the fish that I catch during the winter are holdovers that survived the spinner and bait fisherman of warmer days.  Native cutthrout can also be caught, along with the occasional cutbow hybrid.

The river itself is interesting in that through the canyon it flows over terraces of basalt. These terraces form pools as well as channel the water flow into short runs. It is in these runs and pools that the fish congregate. The water is rich with weed all year round. Scuds, free swimming mayfly nymphs, midges, etc make up the buffet on which the fish feed. Winter hatches of BWO and midges happen every day peaking around 1 pm. Nymphing in the late morning usually yields many fish. Dry fly action from noon to 3pm is the way to go, however.

Basalt terraces near the footbridge

January 27th was cold and somewhat clear. It was 25 degrees with a slight down stream breeze that was just enough to freeze your finger tips solid! I took my youngest daughter with me. She didn't want to fish, but rather preferred to hike and sit in the sun (although it was mostly cosmetic sunshine -- the kind that looks warm but really isn't).

I headed out into the river with the Iwana 12ft. I decided to use a TenkaraBum 10'6" HiVis hand tied line with 3 feet of Rio 6x fluoro tippet. By the time we got to the river the fish were already rising in sporadic locations. I therefore decided to use a #18 olive Bunny Dun. This is a great fly. It floats like a cork, it is very durable, and I can see it much easier than some other BWO patterns I have used.  Doc's Dry Dust was in order -- no silicone for me on a cold day like today.

#16 olive Bunny Dun

I fished for about 1 and a half hours. The catch was intermittent but not to bad -- 10 fish in 1.5 hours. Here is a video taken from my POV of some of the fish.  I am talking to my daughter who was sitting on a river side rock watching her old man freeze in the water! You can see with the last fish that the net was frozen stiff!

After these few fish we headed to our favorite burger shop in Grace, Bergy's, to warm up.


  1. Looks like a good day of fishing to me. I really need to fish that side of the state, I was born in Soda but have not been over that way in some time. Lots of beautiful country over there.


  2. Thanks Paul. Yes, a beautiful, yet cold, day. My fingers were freezing!!



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