August 11, 2012

Wildfires and Wild fish

This week was interesting. I was scheduled to be working but due to some scheduling conflicts I didn't have to work! Believe me, I didn't cry about it. So, with my wife gone to a girls camp with my youngest daughter, I decided to to head to the Tetons and do some fishing.

Over the past week there have been a number of wildfires in central and south central Idaho. These have created a blanket of haze and smoke; sometimes light and other times thick. Wednesday it was thick enough to obscure the Tetons from view.

Smoke obscuring the Tetons

Anyway, I drove up Tuesday night. Instead of sitting around the house I drove a few minutes to Moose Creek. I had fished this creek before but that was earlier in the year and the water was high. I got skunked that day. I did not want that to happen again. I figured that there had to fish in it but I never have found any reports. So, for a hour I wet waded up its beautiful flow. But... nothing. Not a hit, until I caught a 3 inch brook trout. Bummer.

Well, not to have the evening totally wasted, I got back in the car and drove a minute or two to Trail Creek. This stream follows the highway from Victor, over Teton pass, to Jackson, WY. It has yielded fish for me a couple of times before, so I felt confident that I could catch a few before it got too dark.

Once again I wet waded. I pushed my way through the thick willows until I reached the stream. I came to the stream just upstream from a nice hole that was at a bend in the creek. I got down on my knees, extended the rod and flipped the #12 red-butt black kebari into the current. The fly was carried quickly downstream into the pool. Bam! A nice cutthroat rise and hit the fly on the swing. I didn't hook him though. Another pass...nothing. Another, and another...still nothing. Finally, on the 5th pass I hooked a 10 inch cutthroat.

A pool at the stream's bend

A nice 10 incher flopping in the grass

After that I worked my way upstream. The water flow was good. Gin clear, but good flow. I came to another pool a little way upstream and began working the fly. I would cast upstream and then let the fly swing under the bank with the current. Bam! A hit and another nice fish.

Another Trail Creek cutthroat

Finally, working the head of the pool I hooked into a decent brook trout. I don't catch a lot of these in my neck of the woods. In fact, I generally avoid waters that have them in since I hunt cutthroats, but this was a nice little fish.

The brookie

The fly was a black thread with peacock collar and partridge hackle. It had a red wire tag as well. I'll have to keep trying it as it seemed to work well that night.

The fly I used that night. 4X tippet looks huge, doesn't it!

The next day I drove north and fished Bitch Creek. The stream comes out of the west slope of the Tetons and flows about 15 miles until it joins the Teton River. Before it joins the Teton, it enters a very narrow canyon. This makes Bitch Creek an concerted effort to fish. There are very few access points to this river; the one I chose was a 1000 foot descent into the canyon down a steep, slippery gravel slide. There are no switch backs here; straight down (and straight up on the way out -- I think that is where the creek gets its name. You know... because it is such a b*tch to climb out)!

Beginning the descent. The Teton River seen far down below.

Upon reaching the river you enter a narrow canyon that has no real bank. Only the river is at the bottom. I began working my way upstream fishing a hopper-dropper setup. The hopper was a #6 yellow foam body with white rubber legs. The dropper was a #14 bead-head Prince nymph. Tippet was 4X as usual.

At the bottom of the slide.

Entering Bitch Creek canyon

More of the creek...

... and another section

The combo of the hopper-dropper worked great. I caught equal number of fish, Yellowstone cutthroats,  on both files. Most were 10-12 inches. The two largest were 16-18 inches. I broke a rod I was testing, on a 10-12 inch fish no less. I was glad I brought more that one rod!  I caught a few Mountain whitefish as well -- on the Prince, of course. They love that fly.

A 10 incher

16 inch Yellowstone cutthroat

The largest of the day -- 18 incher taken on the Prince
It was a great day. Long. Hot (95 degree on top at my car). The climb out lived up to its name. My thighs are still sore, but what fun!


  1. Beautiful scenery and fish...thanks for the post.

    1. Thanks Kiwi. It is a beautiful place to fish.

  2. wonderful, thankyou for sharing. Gosh, you call that a creek, in my country that's a river, and a good one! so beautiful, so lucky.

    1. Hi mate,

      Yes, that is what they call a creek around here -- it is bigger than most though. When it enters the Teton River it doubles its flow so Bitch Creek really is a river!

  3. Was the rod you broke an Fountainhead product by any chance?

    You were well rewarded for your efforts to get to the river.

    1. Thanks, It was a reward. Another rewards was that I didn't have a heart attack on the climb out!

      No, the rod was not a Fountainhead product. It was a new rod my another manufacturer. I can't reveal the product until OK'd by that manufacturer. Interestingly enough, I actually broke the tip section twice. The second time after I had replaced the section with a new one.