With the rod set up, I tried on a size 8 stimulator, then secured 14 inches of tippet to the bend of the hook. On that mono I tied a brown size 12 bead head nymph. The water was clear and cold; a great fall day. I had hoped that the rains from the previous night hadn’t put the fish down.
Walking out into the current, I crept out to about knee deep. My feet were chilled by the rushing water. Upstream was a nice riffle; a gravel bar created a smooth pour-over dropping the water into a chute that looked to be about 5 feet deep. I started casting low in the run and let the flies drift along the crease between the slack water of shore and the swifter current of the main trough.
Several casts produced nothing and with each cast I would step higher into the current. The water looked fantastic but there were no fish rising anywhere along this stretch. Again and again I tossed the bugs forward and concentrated as they drifted back my way. Cast, mend, retrieve; I had a rhythm going covering the water where I felt a fish would be laying. I moved up the chute and then started moving back down. The fish may be holding in deeper water. I figured I would cover the water as I moved down river and then wade to a different spot where the water was deeper.
Taking in the slack on my line, I roll-cast up and across the current. The stimulator twitched aggressively and I instinctively raised my rod tip. The line stretched taut. It was a clean set and I had a fish on! The first instinct of a cutthroat trout is to run down current. In doing so they tend to help you by taking out the slack line and get you on the reel. When you are on the reel you have a definite advantage. You let the rod tip work for you. The reel’s drag gives line when the fish runs. You take line in as you reel the trophy into your waiting net.
This was a nice fish. Nothing huge, but when it was in my net I could read that it was 14 inches of fat cutthroat. I unhooked it and let it rest in the net dipping it lower into the current. Then when it showed renewed strength I lowered the cradle away and the fish was gone.
I moved on down to another gravel ledge that poured into a big deep green hole. This is what we drive up the Joe for and it was a good start to our three-day getaway.
We left Post Falls at about 11 am. Our start was later than usual but we were in no hurry. At exit 15, east of Coeur d’Alene, we hit stopped traffic and it looked like there might have been an accident up the freeway in the direction of Wolf Lodge. We sat in a long line as police cars converged and then moved past us up the hill out of sight.
We crept forward ever so slowly. I noticed the traffic coming west must be stopped somewhere up the highway out of our sight line. This was not good! It meant that the accident was much worse and covered both lanes. We crept forward another 20 feet. I noticed that in a few more feet I could turn and cut across the westbound lane and take exit 15 back into Coeur d’Alene. This would allow us to drive through the city and take Highway 95 south through Plummer and St. Maries. We crept forward another five feet and I eased on the gas and cranked the wheel to the left. It was a gamble but we really didn’t want to sit idling in traffic for the next hour.
The rest of the drive was uneventful. We cruised through to Plummer and took a left on the highway that leads past Heyburn State Park and through the metropolis of St. Maries. No one was on the road up the St. Joe and we made good time. It started raining about midway up the river and we moved through showers until we arrived at Huckleberry Campground. We found one of our favorite spots open, backed in, and got set up.
Throughout those three sunny days, I fished and Linda read her books. With the cold weather, we noticed that the leaves were changing colors. This change was taking place all around us as we camped. Both Linda and I mentioned that the beautiful fall colors seemed to be changing right before our eyes. It was special and very beautiful.
We had great meals and at the end of each day we watched a movie before we went to bed. The weather was wonderful but at night it got cold. We would wake up to temperatures in the mid to low 30’s. Fall is definitely here.