All of last week, in the back of my mind, the stone fly hatch was on. And as it turns out, not only one species, but to my delight… three!
So the first chance I got, I took the quick 27 minute drive from downtown Cd’A to Kingston. The weather was warm enough to go wader-less – something I’ve been looking forward to since the terrestrials in the fall. Don’t get me wrong, I fished all winter anyway - trudged through the foot-deep snow, took my girlfriend (a real trooper, and a blossoming angler at that!), and we schwacked on more than our share of cutties and bows! But, as I’m sure most would agree, there is something so thrilling about heading off into the wilderness on a whim without having to spend 20 minutes layering up first!
With the river at 4500 CFS, I opted to start at the confluence of the little north fork of the Coeur d’Alene river and work my way up the smaller water. With the sun as warm as it was, right away I noticed an impressive variety of flying trout snacks. Yes, it would be a good day indeed. I lay the streamer and nymphing rods on the bank and crawling amongst the rocks I noticed the first small black stone flies. At about a half inch long and very slender, I quickly realized this was not the stone fly I’d be fishing. As I stood, a much larger stone fly buzzed past me and I grabbed it to be sure it was what I thought it was. A skwala with tannish-yellow and shades of green on his underside wriggled in between my fingers! The black and purple chubby Chernobyl (my go-to bug) was tied and ready to fly, already on the rod. Obviously the color doesn’t mean too much to a hungry trout. First cast, right above the riffle, it hit the zone and two hungry cutties battled for the same bug, amusingly knocking it out of each other’s mouths. Second cast – beautiful 15’ cutthroat to hand! My day was already made and I’d just arrived.
FYI - These are the only "selfies" I ever take.
Just as I was getting ready to move up, a lumbering golden stone flew clumsily across the run like an antique helicopter off its kilter. But, I had pulled plenty of fish off the surface in this particular run, so I decided to leave them alone and move up the crystal clear (well, not quite) water to the next run.
The fun thing about heading up the little north fork is that most any place you’re able to park and find trail, campground or not, you can take it to a productive piece of water. Most are tight with shrubby overgrowth that will truly test your casting abilities. Many will need to sling-shot bugs into feeding waters. On occasion you may need to cast straight upriver and across and hope for the bug to drift into that tasty water. In my experience, some of the larger and more aggressive fish hang out in these tough spots.
Another five miles up, and three more runs, I ended my day staring across a sweet little tail out at a young bull moose, as is common when driving up into these particular woods.
Until next time, my friends… Fish On!