Fly fishing Washington State and Idaho

My wife and I had the chance to go to Washington state and Idaho. Visiting her sister and family, they were kind enough to kick me out of the house so I could Fly Fish!!! Now that’s what I call a great family!!!!

My first river was the Spokane river that literally flows thru downtown Spokane; you can find places to Fly Fish from the banks ask the locals, all very friendly. My first port of call was to the local fly shop Silver Bow Fly Shop. Very helpful fly guys turned me on to the streams and what flies worked well when I was there. I ended getting a guided trip down the Spokane River for the day with one of their guides, Gary.



Interestingly you start the float downtown, and off you go for about six hours, which was plenty of time due to the hot sun. He put me on so many Fish, chasing Red Banded wild Rainbows at the end of the drift my arm was aching so much casting. Caught plenty of fish and lost a few I should not have!!!



Next, I fished the Little North Fork Coeur d’Alene, wet wading, a mixture of dry flies and nymphs caught some very nice cutthroat trout, fished for about 4 hours. Easy drive, you can follow the stream via a dirt road that runs alongside it.



After that, we headed to Lake Pend Orielle, where we set up camp for a few days with my wife’s family. I could sneak off and fish some of the local streams catching cutthroat, browns, and rainbows.

Again, a mixture of dry flies and nymphs. I fly fished the Pack River, Grouse creek, Moyie River, and the mighty Kootenai River.



I spend one-day wet wading on the confluence of the Moyie river running into the Kootenai River. The Moyie is much smaller, but there were so many Cut Bows in the water about fifteen feet from me that they drove me crazy. I spent hours on them, tried every fly and technique in the book only caught two that morning, both on a big dry hopper.

IMG_4403They were holding there, giving me the finger!!! Funny enough, I did move over to the side of the Kootenai for an hour or so and caught a nice size Golden Sucker on my bottom nymph; he gave me a hell of a fight in the big, fast-moving water; great fun!!!!


After that, I waded up the Moyie catching some nice, wild rainbow, who took a black woolly bugger and a nice sized black stonefly. At the beginning of the day, I was lucky enough to bump into a local guide picking up a boat—Leeanna Young of the Last Resort Outfitters. We talked, and as it happened, she had just had a cancellation for the next day. Perfect, we set up to meet at ten the following day


We left her base camp for a short drive around ten in the morning, putting in on the river about twenty minutes later.



Leeanna knows the river well and is a very accomplished guide and Fly fisherwomen, we started with three rods set up to cover all angles for the day.


First off, we were casting tiny dry flies. In a river this big and fast-moving, it can be hard to see the flies in the different sunlight, so you have to be on top of your game. The hits came quickly, and with fly cast out quite a distance, you have to be quick on the strike. At the start, I missed quite a few, but over time I got better at seeing and quicker.


Leeanna has a well set up Willie aluminum drift boat with plenty of room for two Fly fishermen /women, Ideal for drifting this big, fast-moving river.

When we fished, the Kootenai River was flowing around ten thousand cubic feet per second, but it can get up to thirty-five thousand cubic feet per second, so it can be a swift ride for sure.


Leeanna knows all the back eddies and took me many times back for a rerun on missed fished to get a better angle. The second-rod set up was for swinging big streamers, casting into the fast-moving water let it swing down thru the current, then strip back. I did miss one big fish using this method. Next, we went to a smaller lightweight nymph rig set up high, sticking the current; we did catch a few fish, however Leeanna put the rod down and promptly sat on it, breaking the tip off. Funny we had just talked about breaking rods, and there you go Murphy’s law came to play!!

Leeanna is probably my number one pick for a guide; she put me on a ton of fish, knew the river backward and forwards, told me OutFront that we would fish till dark as she wanted to be able to cover any hatches that might emerge. Leeanna has great enthusiasm and professionalism as well as catering to all my dietary needs, I’m a vegan no easy matter!!!! She has a unique way of cutting up whole Mangos!!!


The Kootenai river starts in British Columbia, winds into Montana, then down thru Idaho, eventually turning back into Montana. We started below one of the dams about thirty-five miles south of the Canadian border, very scenic float about elven miles long for the day. We were on the river from ten-thirty in the morning until just before dark getting off around eight-thirty at night; what a day!!

Wild Rainbows, Cut bows, and cutthroat trout. I lost count on the number of fish landed. I really recommend Leeanna Young as a guide; if you ever get up to that part of the world, give her a call, you will have an exceptional experience.


Tonto National Forest Fly Fishing Update Arizona

Tonto National Forest Arizona reopened from Fire restriction, Fly Fishing here we go!!


Finally, they have reopened the Tonto National Forest here in Arizona. Closed for about six weeks due to fire concerns, they have now allowed us back in, but of course, absolutely no fires of any description allowed while you camp or RV!


That is excellent news for all Fly fishermen/women who have been deprived of some great higher elevation fishing. I was lucky to be out of town for awhile Fly fishing in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho, I will write at length about that in another blog.


Yesterday, Marc and I headed to one of the local streams that we hoped would have some water moving through it. The monsoons have been slow to arrive, so we are desperate for water, not only to dampen down the forests but to breathe new life into our streams. Typical for this time of year here in Arizona.


Phoenix’s weather for the day was predicted to be one hundred and eleven degrees Fahrenheit, but up where we were, it was a mild eighty-eight degree and in the shade of the trees in the water cooler, which was a pleasant break from the dry heat of the valley!


I was hoping for some hopper dropper action and set up a small grasshopper with a trailing size eighteen nymph with a little chartreuse shackle on its brown body. It was very apparent right off the go that you needed to fish any shaded areas and forget about water that was in the direct sunlight. In this stream, that is tough fishing as you have to get in up close and personal to covered water. The first riffle that I approached I could not get a fly on the water from my side, so I crossed at the lower point of the water and approached hiding behind the brush and some boulders to dangle my fly at the headwaters and let it drift on down thru the faster deeper run. My third drift down produced one beautiful fighting rainbow that was very pissed off to have something sticking in his lip. In overhead cover and on a small 4# Fly rod, it was a great tussle!!


Marc was ahead of me fishing when I caught him up watching some fast-moving water. He told me that a grasshopper landed on his hat, and he caught it, putting it in at the top of this run. About halfway down in a very tight hole under a bush with brambles hanging over, the grasshopper drifted down fluttering away when a nice trout just came out and gobbled it down. We could see where he was lying, so Marc told me to put my grasshopper over him. That was easier said than done!!


I could not cast too much cover to him, so I put the grasshopper in at the top of the run, but I had to get in on the current that would take to his side. After several futile attempts, I did manage to get my fly to go right where he was. We watched him come up, take a look and swirl away. This was one educated Trout!! Several attempts and another swirl this time on the nymph, but no takes time to move on!


The rest of the day, we fished on up through some great water producing for me about seven rainbows and Marc about ten or so, so not bad considering the day. Fishing up over boulders, under trees, bushes, brambles you name it is not easy work, so around four, we decided to head back to the truck.

When we reached the truck, there was one nice long piece of slow deeper moving water that earlier on had produced only one Trout. It was now in the shade from the canyon walls I just could not pass it by, had to have a few casts. I had changed my rig up earlier that day to two nymphs under an indicator. Marc had fished most of the day with small flies, one being a black pheasant tail-sized sixteen that he stripped through the water with great results! I should have done the same but was too lazy to change rigs again!!


Regardless this time, I had on the same nymph brown body with a tuft of chartreuse shackles, but underneath I had changed to a size twenty black with silver midge; I have always down well with that nymph in the past.


I found a spot with an overhanging tree close to the water, but more importantly, I could see that the water was moving slightly faster in a section across from me with foam and bits and pieces moving down. I was roll casting under the tree and up, letting my flies dead drift slowly down in this current. Almost immediately I had a beautiful rainbow on, for the next twenty minutes or so I landed a bunch of nice Trout, hoping that Marc would reappear. At about this time, I had a nice hit that produced a beautiful fighting wild brown that took my top chartreuse tufted nymph. I love these fish; they are hard to find and do not give up the fight.


After landing this, I left my rod on the bank and went after Marc to come over and re-rig!!! He did, and of course, it is now sod’s law as the fishing slowed down. We did catch a few more, but it was not fast and furious as it had been, All, my Trout that evening took the black and silver midge. In this piece of water, I had the nymphs down about eighteen inches off my small indicator with the bottom midge probably about three to four feet down just off the bottom as best as I could judge. The water that day had some color to it, so that helped hide us as we were often time very close to where we had to cast. Stealth and at peace with nature almost a Zen feeling of being one with nature, it does not get any better than that.


As I get older, I find myself getting a little contemplative about the years past and I kick myself for not getting back into Fly Fishing sooner. Don’t get me wrong I am living a wild and wonderful life, but I missed many good years to be on the water. I guess life is a trade-off as I have been busy running a business all my life, and that takes its toll!!! I have always been limber and sure-footed, but now I find myself being extra careful as I am not quite as nimble as I was, Father Time has a way of catching up to us. To all younger people, treasure your youth and don’t squander your time, get out there and see some of the most beautiful lands that Fly Fishing will take you to, no matter where you live. Tight lines all!!!

Out there in Arizona

Tonto Forest Closed, Apache Reservation closed! What are Az Fly Guys and girls going to do? Dig deep and travel into the wilderness, explore new ranges!!
The fish Gods brought me back to reality after an epic day last week, to a big fat goose egg this week ZERO!!!
Fishing not catching Right!!
Marc managed to nab a few fish with a few lost. We walked eight and half miles in 102 Fahrenheit heat. Explored new water for the future. Marc did his Michael Phelps impression in a few deep pools along the way. Walrus comes more to mind!!!!
Arizona has a diversity of scenery that is spectacular with most Arizonians not really exploring and knowing what lies out there!!!
We are privileged to be able to roam this land, so if you have not gotten out there go!!! Take water go early and you will be glad you did

The diversity of Fish for fly fishing in higher elevations of Arizona.


Marc and I headed off up into the higher elevations for a four-day fly fishing and exploration trip to find new waters for us! The Apache reservation is closed due to the Cov- 19 virus so we had to improvise.


We stayed in a small log cabin in Alpine AZ, elevation eight thousand feet, using this as a base. Rustic and costing only eighty-five dollars a night for two people, perfect! Originally, we had intended to fish some of the small trout streams that are in Arizona and then head East into New Mexico.


Unfortunately, the streams were running very low with little water so we decided to head into the higher elevation and rugged country of the white mountains that border the Apache reservation, truly breath-taking country!


We fished from approximately eighty-five hundred feet too as low as five thousand feet during the next days. Mostly streams with a lot of hiking into and a few small lakes just for the fun of it. The wind was blowing a gale the whole time, so we could not get out on Big Lake to chase cutthroat trout as we felt it would not be productive. Same with Becker lake. I have been to this lake four times now and have never been able to fish due to the strong winds blowing up white caps. Not to say you could not, but for us it seemed we had better options to catch fish elsewhere.


Many miles on the back roads all gravel that are well maintained we saw Elk, Deer, Wild turkey, Ospreys, rattle snakes the odd bear print to name a few.



 Caught on the fly between us, Brown trout, Gila Trout, Apache trout, Rainbow trout, Grayling, Round Tail chub, sun Fish and Blue gill also the odd sucker.


We missed out on cutthroat, brook trout and Tiger trout!!


The lower elevations you get into a whole other bunch of warmer water species to Fly fish for that we will not talk about today as that was not our goal for this trip.


Of course, we both have a fish tale to talk about! Marc was fishing the head waters of this stream when he hooked a big nice size trout only to lose as it shook out the fly after a brief tussle!!!


 I passed him at this point as I was going up river, he told me about this fish and he was staying until he caught it. Later that night he trudged back to the truck and I asked him if he ever caught that fish?


 You will not believe this! I fished that run hard and a little later on as it was getting darker and more shadow on the run a huge missile came out took his small fly bent his rod in half and was gone just like that, it was huge!!! Very big fish, he just shook his head in disbelieve. I told him the good news is you now know he lives in that run so he will have another chance at him next time!!


My story is not as good, but I did hook a very nice rainbow easy twenty inches plus fought him and eventually brought close to my net.

 The problem was I was in a position that I could not get low to the water and with my rod as high as I could go and my net as low as I could go, we just could not meet. I looked him in the eye, eye to eye he just gave one bigger shack of his head and my line snapped right at the knot on my brown woolly bugger and like that he was gone! Just two more fish tales to add to the memories!!

The Tip of the iceberg Fly Fishing Arizona

I have never been much of a hiker, but when I took up Fly Fishing again after a fifty-year hiatus, I became one! Arizona Fly Fishing does not exactly come to mind when talking of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado some of the great Fly-fishing streams of America.


For those that know, they shake their collective heads and laugh!!! Now we do not have the prevalence of huge trout everywhere I am only talking about streams here. The lakes are a whole different ball game and will be visited later in other posts., but they are here in lesser numbers, and occasionally you get really lucky in these streams and catch one. We have plenty of Brown, rainbow also Apache Trout, Gila Trout, Brook Trout, and tiger trout although I have only caught Tiger trout in the lakes. Believe it or not, but there are a few lakes that have grayling as well!!!


The key is getting out there into the wilderness, that is when you will see some of the most beautiful country anywhere in America. Some streams are easy to get too, most are not. If you really want to get out there, it will take effort and preparation as well as emergency supplies, depending on how far off the grid you go.


This tale is about a small stream starting at about three-thousand-foot elevation outside Phoenix. Not that high up when you consider we have streams here well over eight-thousand-foot elevation and higher in parts of the high country of Arizona.


I have fished this stream twice before at different times of the year with no luck, and I was determined this time would have a different outcome! Interestingly in the winter, it is so different with no overgrown growth to impede you also much more water flow a whole different world.


Compare that to the middle of summer. I had to fight my way into some of the runs and pools, always looking for the shaded run!! The water was also much lower with the fish spooky but hiding out, waiting for a tasty morsel to dash out and grab!

I spent the day working my way up fishing spots I knew, but also with an eye to go higher up as I know there are some great pools and runs much further up, but time was my enemy. There still was no grasshopper action and no surface action. I could hear cicadas now again, but they were not around the stream. So, it was an underwater fly time!!!


The fish in this stream are not big, so after a few leaches stripped with no luck, I went to an indicator rig. I had one fly I have been itching to use for ages, and for some reason, my gut was telling me this is the day. Now, this is a dry fly, but it is a beautiful big bodied black ant with a foam body and short stubby reddish-brown legs. ( Brian Foss, a local fly tier made for me, great fly fishermen, friend and maker of killer flies and rods!!! )


I rig my wet flies differently to most; my usual fishing buddy goes crazy watching me catch fish this way!!!! Right, Marc?? I have an indicator that is split, so it is very easy to move up and down the line to vary the depth. Two feet under, I put this deadly ant, then I put a small split shot right above the knot, so it looks like his head, then eighteen inches under that I went with a size twenty black and a silver zebra midge. Deadly!!!


The water is shallow in the runs, maybe a foot to four feet, so you have to adjust the indicator to the speed of the flow, so you do not hook the bottom. Take the time for every run and pool as they are all different.


I can not tell you how many times I have dead drifted through a run or pool with no luck then adjusted the depth up or down and bang fish on!!! So, take the time and fish the run or pool before you move on. It will increase your catch rate!!!


I had been standing in the water at the edge for at least twenty minutes stripping leaches with no luck, that is when I put on the ant. The second cast upstream drifting down bang nice rainbow that put up a crazy fight on my four-weight rod, great sport same pool different technique fish on!!!


I used this rig for the rest of the day. I also passed up a lot of water as I wanted to get to the water, I had not fished. About Four-thirty, I reached the beginning of new water for me and caught some beautiful colored rainbows, but time was running out. Looking upstream, it was like a siren calling me! Darkness was around the next corner, so it was time to head back to the truck, which would take a while.


On my walk back, I was reflecting on the day and how lucky I am to live so near so many beautiful spots, Breathtaking is the only word to use!! The day was productive, with about eight or so beautiful colored fighting rainbows, each gave me his best!!! They all lived to fight another day. I only fish catch and release, and I am for sure going back.



Only this time, I will hike past all the stream I have fished and start fishing the new virgin waters for me chasing those elusive colored up Rainbows, and who knows I may even catch one of those legendary Browns that live higher up, or so the tale goes!!!!