September 16, 2012

New Waters

This weekend I drove to a part of Idaho that I have never been to before. I had a conference to attend in McCall, Idaho and so I thought I'd take my tenkara gear with me. I did some research on the area surrounding McCall, which is on the southern shores of Payette Lake and the North Fork of the Payette River high in the central mountains of Idaho. The main attraction is Payette Lake itself,  but there are miles of hiking and mountain bike trails, high mountain lakes, numerous golf courses, etc to explore and enjoy.  Having never been there before, I wasn't sure what tenkara water would be close at hand.

The Yacht Club on Payette Lake

I knew that I wasn't going to have time to hike to any of the lakes so I concentrated on the streams. On the drive from Boise to McCall you follow the North Fork of the Payette River. This is famous for its white water but not its fishing. Upon entering the canyon I could see why -- one constant, mile after mile, high grade cascade. If you want to drown this would be a good place to try.

So, with the Payette River below Payette Lake out, I decided to try the same river but upstream of the lake. No go. There was hardly any water. I mean, a wide rocky river bed with only a narrow course of water inches deep. Bummer.

After consulting the map I saw a creek, not to far from McCall, that looked potentially promising. I drove over to it to check it out. Goose Creek is a small creek, 20 feet wide, and it actually had water in it! That was a good start. It is in the Payette National Forest so no private land. That was good too. The water was clear as it tumbled over and around reasonable sized rocks with plenty of pocket water. I like pocket water. Pocket water = good tenkara water.

A typical stretch of stream 

I extended the Daiwa Sagiri and tied on a #10 Utah Killer Bug. I wet waded out and picked a pocket to target. First cast hooked a small, 8 inch rainbow. Nice. Second cast, hooked a smaller 6 inch rainbow. I was OK with that; small but really fun. Nothing on the third cast. Fourth took another small rainbow. I also caught trout on Purple Haze, Soft Hackle Grey, Red and Black, and Red tail sakasa kebari. Further up stream, where the creek narrows to about 10 feet wide, I used the Soyokaze 27SR. It was too short for the water but it was great fun with these fish.

I fished for a little over an hour. I think I caught about 30 fish, but I really didn't count. There was nothing of any size but the fun was real and pure. Those little trout made my trip. I believe they were native Columbia River Redband trout. They had all of the classical markings. Goose Creek is one of the streams that eventually flows into the Columbia River via the Salmon River system.

Is this water a destination stream? No, the fish are way too small for that. But if you happen to be in the McCall area and want to get away from the tourists and expensive shopping then drive to Goose Creek.  Use a rod designed for smaller fish and you are sure to have some fun. I count this new water trip as successful!


  1. Tom,

    Glad that you found that little hidden gem of goose creek. It is fed by a couple of very nice alpine lakes that only take a couple of miles of easy hiking to get to. There are a few other very nice options in the area as well, just as easy to get to and just as much fun to fish. Hope you had a good time with the rest of your visit to McCall, its a great area.



    1. Thanks, Paul. I was going to try to get a hold of you before the trip but I ran out of time. I figured you know the area pretty well. Yes, I wanted to try some of the lakes but time did not permit. The visit to McCall was nice except for the smoke. We had one day that was pretty clear but the rest were really smokey.


  2. Beautiful stream! Wishin' I was fishin' it. It looks just about "tenkara perfect"


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