May 15, 2013

2013 Field Season Part II - Three Rivers

     And now for the stunning conclusion of the species hunting contest between Brenda and I. I can tell that you were right on the edge of your seat in anticipation, so I won't keep you waiting any longer (if you don't know what I'm talking about, scroll up or click here)!
     As the spring progressed into late May, we basically ran out of steelhead to tag at our lower elevation sites, so we moved upstream to one of my all-time favorite rivers - the Lochsa. We lived up there for the latter part of May and most of the month of June, and to stay true to form, we continued duking it out in our species hunting contest! 
Fish Creek Steelhead
This beautifully colored female steelhead was one of the ones we tagged from Fish Creek, a Lochsa River tributary. Did I mention that I like the Lochsa?
     I knew that we would both add the westslope cutthroat to our list within minutes of pulling out our fly rods (and we did), but I had my sights on one of my all time favorite fish - the bull trout.
Lochsa River Cutthroat
Here's a typically beautiful Lochsa cutthroat, once you figure them out, these are an all day thing!
     Last summer I purchased a spey rod for steelhead fishing, but I hadn't had time to learn how to cast it. I brought it up to the Lochsa to get some casting practice in and to probe the depths with big streamers hoping  for some bigger fish. So I awkwardly figured out spey casting for a few days and somehow managed not to hook myself in the ear in the process, but pretty soon I had the hang of it and it wasn't long until I was bringing in fish! Most of them were cutthroat as expected, but I also lucked into a few bulls!
Lochsa River Bull Trout
Trucha torro - the noblest of the trouts!
Lochsa River Bull Trout
Yes my spey rod was a little overkill even for this nice bull trout, but it was still a blast!
Lochsa River Bull Trout
These guys are by far my favorite trout! Click here or here to read more about some of my other close encounters with "Da Bulls"! And yes I know I look like Santa Clause... For my wife's sake, I trimmed my beard as soon as I moved back home after my field season!
Northern Pikeminnow
I also caught my first Lochsa River pikeminnow, which was OK by me!
Northern Pikeminnow Eye
He's watching you!
     After catching cutthroat, bull trout, and whitefish, we knew we were pretty much out of species in the Lochsa. We decided to head over the hill to Montana to hit the Bitterroot River and see if we could add a brown trout. We chose a slow day of tagging and took the afternoon off and hit the road! That was my first time fishing the Bitteroot but it definitely won't be my last! We picked a promising looking side channel a little off the beaten path and went to business! It wasn't long until I had caught more cutthroat, rainbows, another whitefish, and (more importantly) several nice browns!  And not a moment too soon too, I hadn't caught a brown since this trip to Southeast Idaho!
Bitterroot River Brown Trout
This 19 incher was my biggest brown of the day!
Bitterroot River Brown Trout Closeup
His colors were so beautiful that I couldn't resist some close-ups!
Brown Trout Skin
It's hard to beat the patterns of a nice brown trout!
Bitterroot River Rainbow Trout
The rainbows didn't disappoint either; this guy was just as long as the brown and quite a bit fatter!
Bitterroot River Rainbow Trout Tail
Nice tail!
     After our afternoon in Montana, we pretty much called it quits with the contest, having caught everything we could think of within reasonable proximity. We both caught some nice fish, but after the final tally I squeaked out the win with a total of 20 species to Brenda's 18!  After my celebration dance we both realized that we hadn't agreed to any terms of the contest so we didn't know what my prize would be. However Brenda, in a gracious show of sportsmanship treated me by including me in a whitewater rafting trip that she was planning with some friends! I had driven past thousands of people rafting on the Lochsa, but I had never done it myself. If you have never done it either, stop reading this, get in your car now, and head up there - it's awesome!
Three Rivers Rafting
We went with Three Rivers Resort and Rafting, which is also where we stayed while we were up there. They're good people! Stop by and give them some business if you're in the area!
Lochsa River Rafting
I was a little terrified as you can tell!
Lochsa River Rafting
Seriously, get in your car now and go!
Lochsa River Rafting
This rapid is called "Lochsa Falls". Good times!

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm... Maybe I'll have to read said book!
    Fish Creek has a pretty good run of big wild beautiful fish; just goes to show that if you leave the good habitat alone the runs will stay healthy! If you're interested, Idaho Fish and Game has been monitoring that population since the early 90's and there's a lot of data on it that can be found on their website.
    PS. that's a BEAUTIFUL char in your profile picture! I'd love to get one like that some day!