Monday, February 28, 2011

For the fly fishers in us all

The creek runs from the wooded North Idaho hills to a small lake. It's brushy and winding and cuts though its share of private property. In the past, I was turned back while attempting to fish it. A couple of years ago I took my fly rod to the stream where it flows out of a small lake and hooked a few tiny bass on flies. It was murky frog water. Summer was high and the water was low and barely moving.
On another occasion, I fished the creek where it enters another small lake a few miles to the north,but again I didn't catch much if anything at all. 
A few days ago, steeped in what seems a winter that refuses to be shrugged off or sent packing, and needing to fish some flowing water, I was once again drawn to the creek which lies about a half hour from Coeur d’Alene and not far from my house at Spirit Lake.
It was Sunday, the sky looked to be boiling with new snow. I was grabbed by the notion that maybe the creek would be more easily accessed in winter, so I drove there looking for a new route in.
I had Google mapped it that morning and learned that the stream also left the second pothole lake on its stair-stepping way to a larger river.
This information made sense all of a sudden, and prompted me to get going.
After some bushwhacking, I found a beautiful, wide stream that cuts through cedar forests and drooping firs with hanging moss dripping into deep swirling pools and the water clear as gin before the tonic.
Local lore - usually acquired at North Idaho barbershops - tells that the creek contains brookies, spring run cutts, rainbows and it is one of the few streams with a population of brown trout.
Standing on a high frozen bank looking down on the free flowing water I realized that I was tip toeing the rubber-soled edge of Nirvana. I sidled down, waded across a run and followed the flow looking for trout haunts.
Not too long ago, Sandpoint, Idaho, one of the Panhandle’s many gem communities, was named to the top 10 of the nation’s Fly Fishing towns by Fly Rod & Reel magazine. People I tell this to chuckle. They are usually sitting in a barber chair getting their hair cut, and the tickle of a clippers or their new coiffure may add to the enjoyment of the statement. Sandpoint is best known for its lake fishing, for the giant rainbows of legendary Lake Pend Oreille. The nearest blue ribbon trout stream is at least an hour away, they say.
I’m betting this stream is one of those hidden gems that draws bushwhackers with fly rods.
I’m telling myself it made a believer of the Fly Rod & Reel writer.
I’ll keep you posted.
-- Ralph Bartholdt