Where the River Starts

IMG_5380

You can hear me saying “SSSHHHIIiiitttt…..”

 

My name is Chad. I am a classic Idaho boy, and as a young kid I did the classic Idaho things – I fished the Owyhee River and drank too much beer. This is the story of how my friends and I learned to love the Owyhee River and ALL that comes with it.

It all started at the age of 17 where Brad, Brock, Trey, and I decided to try out a craft beer. We knew we couldn’t obtain one until we were 21, so we decided to ‘borrow’ one from our parents. (In our minds, the advantage of being young meant we can get away with borrowing 1 drink.) Couldn’t hurt, right? With this conclusion, we “borrowed” one and headed off to fish the Owyhee.

We arrived at the river, cracking our warm beer, each taking a sip until it was gone. That day we learned there is a reason they usually sell them in 6 packs. A couple sips from a beer didn’t leave us with a buzz, just a terrible aftertaste. We began to pack our stuff to head home, upset that our day turned out to be very anticlimactic. But then we heard the laughs of drift boat fishermen. This brightens our mood as the “drifter” always seems to know exactly what the fish are biting on. If you can copy a drifter, you can probably catch a fish.

We stopped packing and ran to the bank to watch them float by in hopes of seeing what the “professionals” use on the river. As the drift boat floated down, a man on the boat slurred out the words “ ARrre YOU kids okay?”. It must have been the looks on our face as we were still trying to get used to the nasty taste of beer. “Did you run out of beer?”.

Brad, being the obnoxious brave soul of the group, saw the opportunity and took it. Screaming back “Yeah, my friend Trey drank it all”. This drunken sailor reached into the cooler and tossed a beer over to us saying back “Cheer up, this one is on me!”

I learned 2 things that day: fly-fishing the Owyhee River is the best thing in the world and if you want to fish, you must bring more than one beer. With the love and excitement for this river, I began to master the river. I started mastering the Owyhee by learning all the knots. Then, I learned how to read the river; what the brown trout eat, what time of day the browns eat, why they eat the Mayflies and PMD’s and what causes the PMD and Mayfly hatch. Not only did I study the river, I studied my gear. I travel from fly-fishing festival to festival, learning what gear is the best for certain parts of the river. That year I became an expert of the Owyhee River. I hope you have enjoyed my experiences and can learn the best way to fish the Owyhee River.

Izaak Walton. “O, Sir, doubt not that Angling is an art; is it not an art to deceive a trout with an artificial fly?

 

Breaking into the Owyhee’s

Quick disclaimer: This blog will not cover the basics of fly-fishing.  I am writing this blog in hopes that you gain knowledge of how to fly fish. The goal of this blogs is to take the basic or advanced knowledge you have, and put it to practice on the Owyhee River.

The Owyhee river runs through Oregon, Idaho and even parts of Nevada. As shown in the image below, there are many points in this river, but we are going to focus on the top point. Just over the Oregon-Idaho border, the Owyhee River.map

This river has been named “best trout fly-fishing” by Bestfishinginamerica.com ( http://www.bestfishinginamerica.com/or-owyhee-river-fly-fishing-brown-rainbow-trout.html ) I get asked all the time what makes the river so special? Many people speculate the river is great due to the “hatches”. Hatch is a term fly fishermen use often, and is when an insect goes from a nymph (a swimming insect) to a bug (an adult, which is the flying or fully grown stage).  This can be seen in more detail on Amateur Entomologist’ Society’s website (you can find the article here).  The hatch is essential to fly-fishing. It’s what the fish will be eating.  You must be able to match the hatch or you’ll end up being the guy calling down the river, “HEY WHAT ARE YOU USING?” every time you see someone catch a fish…. Don’t be that guy…. No one will ever actually tell you what they are using. Another reason we call it fishing and not sharing.

Now that you have a basic understanding of what a hatch is, I’m going to let you in on a little fishing secret. Hatches happen due to 2 things, weather and time. Though I would love to tell you the exact time of day each hatch happens, I can’t. It’s never at the same time, it all depends on the heat of the day. The hotter the days are, the earlier the hatch will happen. To make it a little more simple, I broke it down into 3 categories of heat and time.

 

If it is HOT AS HELL (99-110 Degrees Fahrenheit)

12-4pm

6-8pm

9pm- sundown

If it is HOT (80-100 Degrees Fahrenheit)

2-5pm

6-8pm

If it is not catching fish hot (70-80 Degrees Fahrenheit)

Go play cornhole, it ain’t happening today! The reasons for this is as the hatch happens the insects need heat to survive and dry their wings. When it is this cold the wings don’t dry and it is hard for the insects to survive.

Due to living in Utah, most of the year I fish the river over the summer. This means that Pale morning Duns (PMD), Celibaetis, Caddis and in the later months of summer, the Hopper, will be the main source of food for fish. If you are interested in other months of the year you can check out The Three Rivers Ranch Hatch Chart here. They do a wonderful job of staying up to date with the insects and their hatch. Now that we know most of the basics of the river; we can determine what time of day we should be planning on going out, what type of fly we are going to bring and what to be looking for. Now go out and fish the Owyhee!

They Brought Coors

fishing-for-beer

One of my favorite quotes is by Terry Hackett, a strong drinker and very consistent fly fisherman. Hackett once said, “Any fly fisher knows that you can’t always count on the fish to cooperate, but you can always count on a good beer when the day is done”.  You can read more about Hackett and his opinions on the best beer for fly fishing here. Hackett believes all fishing trips should start with a visit to the nearest gas station to buy as much beer as you can hold. However, it’s the kind of beer you grab that determines what type of fisherman you are.

The Owyhee River is composed of two diverse types of fishermen: the drifters and the waders. Drifters are fly fishers that use a drift boat to float the river, while a wader is a fisherman who stands in the water in their waders. While they both fly-fish, they are not the same breed of fisherman. Before you head out to fish you need to decide what type of fisherman you are. One is not better than the other, but they are very different.

Here are 7 questions that will answer what type of fisherman you are:

Coors light is the worst beer?

YES or NO

Do you drive a Toyota 4-Runner?

YES or NO

Do you have a Border Collie as a dog?

YES or NO

Do you have a beard or dreadlocks?

YES or NO

Do you have the latest edition of the Sim or Columbia PFG fishing shirt?

YES or NO

You have at least 3 bumper stickers?

YES or NO

Bud Light is shit. (https://affotd.com/2012/02/21/what-the-hell-americas-top-10-selling-beers-are-awful/) – just in case you want to know the answer to this question.

YES or NO

 

If you answered “NO”  4 or more times, you belong on a drift boat. If you answered “YES” 4 or more times, you belong in your waders. As you can see, the first and last questions are the most important. Once again, we go back to what my friend Terry Hackett believed: you can always count on a good beer.

You might be wondering, where did the divide come from? It’s a long story, but the drift boaters tend to follow the usual “Patagonia true river man style” which means beer is involved. Beer caused the biggest split between the two groups.

Anti-Coors

Early 90’s fishing was divided into the two groups of fishermen based on the beer they drank. In 1990, Coors Light polluted many major rivers by pouring toxins into them and killed thousands of fish. (http://extras.denverpost.com/business/biz0304.htm) This pollution crisis mainly affected the “wader” population. Pollution kills mid-water swimming fish, fish that stay in the current and hide in fast-moving water. This made it nearly impossible for a “wader” to catch a fish until the pollution calmed down. Waders began to HATE people who drank Coors or Budlight for the fact that they were in a roundabout way killing the river. The drift boats can cast under the trees, so they were not affected by the pollution. Slowly, friendships began to die as the divide between supporters and non-supports of the awful Coors Light grew.  Even today on the Owyhee River, you can hear the talk of the “drift boat Coors” and the “wading crafts”. So, before you go out make sure you know the type of fisher you are.IMG_5383

So you don’t have to guess what one I am(;

Talking Like You Know It

IMG_5381

For a video of all fishing saying you can watch this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfGvvz7HbAw

Fly-fishing is just like college football, only 22 of the 25,000 people at the game are actually good at playing. Everyone else is just there for a good time. In order to be a part of that good time, you are going to have to know what you’re talking about. I’ll teach you the basic fly-fishing sayings that’ll make it seem like you know what you’re talking about. So when your father-in-law finally invites you to go fishing with the boys, you won’t seem like a complete fool.

“Oh, what!? Did ya see that hog? It was at least an 18in brown. It must have been feeding” – When the fish are feeding they tend to be moving around a lot so it will explain why the fish isnt there when people look. 18 inches is also the size of fish on the Owyhee that classified as a trophy fish.

“I heard the hatch is pretty good around this time of the year.” – There is always some type of hatch happening, so no matter when you say it you’re not wrong.

“Have you seen Orvis’ new reels? Super sleek.” – Orvis is the Gucci of the Owyhee, Its a very nice brand, sleek is the word flyfishers use to define something that is light but still very useful.

“Yeah, I am going to use a dropper today, I feel like they are going for the nymphs.” – as you’ll learn in other articles nymphs are a stage in the insect’s life cycle, fish bite your nymphs 9 times more then they will hit a dry fly. Saying this once again makes you not wrong no matter when you say it.

“Oh nice rod, is that a 6 weight?” – rods come in many different types of weights  knowing this  makes you seem knowledgeable.. ( it doesn’t have to be a 6 weight it could be 4,5,6 and 7 weight)

“I’ve been getting looks all day.” –  a look is when the fish swims up to the fly but then last second decides it isn’t hungry enough to eat that hook and swims away. Say this makes it seem like your skill is good but you’re just having an unlucky day.

“Whew! Another hog in there, hatch must be coming on.” – A secret to fishing every time you see a fish, call it a hog or say its huge. every time you see fish they are usually moving to higher water to feed so if you see one a hatch is most likely happening.

“The river was on yesterday, must just be a cold day in the water.” – when the water is cold fish tend to sit down and not feed as much, saying yesterday was on is like saying “Its not my skills that are the issue, the fish just aren’t eating. ” this is 12/10 times a lie but I promise you the people you’re with will totally buy it.

“Yeah, I’ve been thinking about buying a Yeti cooler. I think having a 110 would be perfect for a trip like this.” – Yeti’s are the worlds greatest coolers. “Keep your beer cold for 5 days with only 3 bags of ice, for the cheap price of $569.99.” Let’s be real no one is throwing around almost $600 for a cooler but you’ll definitely sound cool if your thinking of getting one.

“Just give it a mend and wait.”  – No matter how good you are your mend, will never be good enough.  If you feel like coaching the boys, just say this over and over.

“We have a scooper over here, I’ll hook him on the next rise!” – The biggest fish tend to swim to the surface of the water and suck down the fly rather than bite it, we call those scoopers. You may not even have a scooper taking looks but just saying this automatically makes your a pro.

“Seen any risers down there?” – Say this while heading to the riverbank

If you use these phrases, then you will definitely make it known you are an avid fisherman. The links below will provide more information on fishing and fishing sayings.

https://www.emeraldlafortune.com/journal//shit-fly-fishing-gals-say

 

http://www.profisherman.com/fishsayings.html

IMG_5382