Monday, April 14, 2008
Risk, Reward, not on the Jeff.
Each year I get a wild hair to float the Jefferson and get away from the rest of the angling world. Usually it becomes a nice scenic float with a fish or two coming to the boat. My good friend Peter, who grew up in the Jefferson Valley was eager to hit his home water so we planned to pick his brother up and hit the river. I arrived to pick Peter up and we had a couple of inches of new snow in town. We loaded up the dogs and the gear and made the 60 mile trek to Whitehall to pick up Wade. When we arrived at the ranch his parents were on their way to Sunday's Church service. Peter and I took a few pop shots at the gophers in the pasture and picked Wade up at the house. We headed up river to the Headwaters of the Jefferson and dropped Wade's truck at the take out. The weather was warming nicely and when we put the boat in at Twin Bridges the day looked very promising.
Wade has only fly fished a couple of times and we spent the first ten minutes getting him back in the groove. The Beaverhead was pretty dirty with about a foot of visibility so we tied on black buggers and a worm for Wade while Peter and I took turns fishing streamers and rowing. When we got to the confluence with the Bighole we saw crystal clear water and kicked ourselves for not putting in on the Bighole rather than the Beaverhead. To this point we had not even had a bump or a legitimate take on the nymphs and thoughts of a typical Jefferson trip started to eat at the eagerness of having that rare day of good fishing on the river. We made a couple of stops so the dogs could run around and we could stretch our legs. Peter finally had a nice bow swirl at the streamer and we both got reinvigorated by the sight of the swirl. Peter gave up the front of the boat and I set out with the Kystal Bugger hoping to actually hook and land a fish. My first cast to the bank came tight quickly and a small brown was on for about a nano second. We both thought, ok maybe it was just taking the fish some time to get on the feed. Optimism is a great thing but it only gets you so far. I fished for another half hour and finally hooked a solid fish that lept from the water and spit the hook.
Peter and I had our fill of casting heavily weighted flies and decided to put on a dry fly just for fun. We weren't catching them on streamers so we figured it would not make any difference in our success to fish a dry and have some fun. Wade religiously fished his nymphs and we were both impressed with his go for it attitude. I tied on a Fat Freddy Skwala dry and proceeded to see how tight I could get it to the bank. Peter jumped back into the front of the boat and began his assault on the shoreline. We started to joke about opening a lodge on the Jefferson and how it was such a reliable fishery. We also said we could start an online "War of the World's" type rumor about the Skwala hatch on the Jefferson. Just as the conversation got more in depth a nice brown trout came to the surface and sucked in the Skwala dry fly that we had only tied on for fun. I guess that the Skwala god's were getting back at us for making fun of the hatch that doesn't really exist on the Jefferson. It was a great laugh and it put a topper on a slow day of fishing.
We hit the ramp and headed back down the valley with a quick stop at Peter's folks new house. The amount of wildlife that uses the Jefferson Valley is amazing and we saw everything from Deer, Elk, Turkey, Sand hill Cranes, Pelicans and lots of ducks and geese. With Turkey season just getting started this weekend I may have to break out the shotgun and to the river for some gobbler action, it surely would be more productive than fishing.