Fishing Bamboo on Bear Valley Creek, Idaho

I’ve had the opportunity to fish one of my favorite stretches of water on Bear Valley Creek near Stanley, Idaho over the past week.  Bear Valley Creek offers spring creek like water for sizable cutthroats, smaller feisty brookies, a few rainbows, and whitefish.  But, fishing there is not always beginner fishing 101….it often can be graduate level and very technical if you want to tempt the larger fish.  Sometimes, you can’t seem to raise a fish, other times, you opportunistically catch a few isolated fish on a variety of dry fly patterns.  But, occasionally the stars all align properly and you slay a big cutthroat like the one pictured below.  But, its really all about getting out with a bamboo fly rod, an old Hardy reel, and experiencing a beautiful piece of water in total solitude…it’s not about the numbers of fish you catch.

A Big Cutthroat That Rose to a Little Yellow Sally Dry Pattern.

A Big Cutthroat That Rose to a Little Yellow Sally Dry Pattern.

Visit with Rick Robbins

Rick Robbins, bamboo rod maker extraordinaire from Lexington, Virginia, spent a couple of days with Mary Ann and I here in Stanley, Idaho this week. Wow, what a wealth of knowledge around taper designs and rod making.  He also sure showed me a thing-or-two about fishing ant patterns.  We got to fish yesterday at my favorite creek, and while we didn’t land too many fish, we sure had a terrific time.  Here are the two rod makers:

Rick Robbins and Dave Dozer, Bamboo Rod Makers, Hunting For Trout In Idaho

Rick Robbins and Dave Dozer, Bamboo Rod Makers, Hunting For Trout In Idaho

 

My Summer Bamboo Rod Shop

While I’m here in Stanley, Idaho with Mary Ann for the summer, I wasn’t able to bring along my entire rod building shop.  But, with a little planning, I was able to bring enough tools/supplies to continue building bamboo rods…when I’m not on the river fishing!  I prepared bamboo strips for 5 rods ahead of time and brought them with me, along with a planning form and my gluing binder.  So, I can plane bamboo and glue up blanks while I’m here.  In a little corner of our cabin, I’ve set up a planning table and a small plane sharpening station….works pretty well.  I’m currently planning strips for an 8′  0″  6 wt. rod.  Here is a look:

My Stanley Bamboo Rod Shop

My Stanley Bamboo Rod Shop

My Planing Set-Up

My Planing Set-Up

My Plane Sharpening Set-Up

My Plane Sharpening Set-Up, Sharing Space With My Fly Reels

 

Willie…a great fish!

If you fly fish a particular water enough times, you usually get to know the specific spots where fish hold.  And, you might even get to know a specific fish.  He’s always at the same spot, and can often be tempted with the same flies.  You might even give that specific fish a name, often out of respect for the encounters you’ve had with it.  Such is the story of Willie.

I first met Willie in early July of last year at one of my favorite spring creeks.  I was fishing under a bridge where I’ve often found a number of decent cutthroats in the 12″ to 15″ range. I never pass up the opportunity to fish under bridges.  It’s where you often find some of the largest fish in the stream.  They seem to be attracted to the shade and deeper pockets along the bridge supports.   On this particular day, I was throwing an assortment of dry flies in vain, as no fish were coming up for the numerous bugs that were flying around.  As I had turned to move on to another spot, I heard an enormous bowling ball sized explosion in the water from behind me.  I looked back, just in time to see another huge swirl as a large nose of a trout emerged from the water taking something on the surface.  It’s here that I came to know Willie’s trademark….huge explosive attacks at flies on the surface.  I tied on a #18 ant pattern and gently cast it under the bridge shadows.  Instantly, Willie engorged my fly and put up a great fight on 6X tippet and my 7′  6″  5 wt. bamboo fly rod.  When I got him to the net, the big rainbow measured out at 19″, dwarfing the smaller cutthroats in the stream.

I encountered Willie several other times during the summer last year.  He was always in the same location under the bridge, occasionally showing himself with aggressive surface takes, and sometimes venturing out in the sunlit stream.  I hooked him two other times last summer but he came out the victor, breaking me off both times.

Yesterday, I hit this spot on the stream again for the first time this season.  Decent midge, mayfly, and caddis hatches were happening but no fish were coming to the surface. The nymphs that I cast only yielded whitefish, and at 1:00 I took a break for lunch.  Half way through my sandwich, I heard the distinct aggressive surface take from Willie.  Two more surface rises, and I was back into the stream in pursuit.  I tried to imitate the various surface bugs but got no response.  I then tied on my favorite #18 ant pattern, and got a rapid take on my first cast.  I was again in battle with Willie, which I won about 5 minutes later.  I gently released Willie after snapping a couple of photos, knowing that I’ll be back to do battle with him later this summer.   I hope you have your own trophy trout that continues to challenge you in your fly fishing adventures.

Willie, the Rainbow Trout

Willie, the Rainbow Trout

 

Fly Fishing in Stanley, Idaho

I’m back in Stanley, Idaho with Mary Ann for the majority of the summer.  She works as a fly fishing guide through Silver Creek Outfitters, guiding on the Salmon River near Stanley.  I come along and work on bamboo rods….and fish a lot.  While I was here last year, I wrote a little fly fishing blog about the fishing opportunities around Stanley.  I’ve started it up again this year, and you can read about my fly fishing adventures at www.flyfishingstanleyidaho.com .

Fly Fishing Stanley Idaho (580x243)

 

 

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