hooked — fly-fishing the big wood river

look the part...even with way-too-big wading boots

look the part…even with way-too-big wading boots

To say Chase likes fly-fishing would be a vast understatement…The boy has been known to wake well before the crack of dawn only to put on eighteen layers and brave the downpours and high winds of the Pacific Northwest in pursuit of the elusive steelhead salmon/trout…and not catch a single fish after a few days of endless “spey casting.”

What’s more? Most of the time, you let the fish go (the alternative being illegal). Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Yep, fly-fishing can be totally insane.

It can also be really beautiful, fun and relaxing. I compare my fly-fishing ability to that of my ability to drive a stick shift. I pick it up pretty quickly each time I try, but then I don’t practice for about a year. I’m trying to change that, mostly in regards to fly-fishing, and Saturday was one small step in that direction.

The boy and I headed to the Big Wood River in West Ketchum, just a 3-minute drive from our home, for a fun couple of hours on the water with Pars.

Believe it or not, I really did catch a big, beautiful rainbow trout (although not on my best cast, which really grinds my gears), but the slippery thing slipped right out of my hands when I went to hold him. Chase said he was 16″, but you know how boys exaggerate :). Next time!

photo 5


Look the part: Waders really just aren’t that cool. In the case of balmy temperatures, opt for “wet-wading.” Chase donned some sexy sandals, but in light of a recent knee injury, I played it safe with some wading boots that were way too big for me. Go down a size. Always wear a hat from a local fly shop and some polarized glasses when you can.

Bring beverages: Keep them cool in the river while you fish!

some tasty cider

some tasty cider

Wear bug spray and sunscreen: Your feet will be just about the only thing in the river — plan accordingly. If you’re like me and bugs that bite love you, river banks are a popular place for swarms. Duh.

Be patient: Again, that insanity thing….You will cast again and again, to the same spot, with no action whatsoever.

Listen: To your guide, I mean. If that’s not making sense, ask them to demonstrate.

chase in guide mode

chase in guide mode

Accept defeat: Even if you manage to catch one of these creatures, they’ll slip out of your hands or off the hook in a nano second.

No “muscle” needed: Chase often says that women are better natural casters because they listen and don’t try to “muscle” the cast. Contrary to what my cousin Erica thinks (“It’s like regular fishing, but more of an arm workout?”), no “guns” are needed.

Watch out for trees…and rocks…and bushes…and people: Sorry, Chase! No, I didn’t actually hook him, but he probably unhooked my line from objects other than fish about a dozen times.

Get your hands wet: Before you hold a fish, get your hands wet in the river they live in — your dry hands can remove important bacteria from their skin. Then again, maybe that’s why I missed my fishy photo!

believe it or not, there's a fish on that line!

believe it or not, there’s a fish on that line!


Mending: Positioning your line to give your fly the optimal drift — you don’t want your fly to drag, and you want it to appear as natural as possible. So, if your line if moving faster than your fly, or vice versa, you mend the line by flicking it upstream or downstream.

Dry fly: Fly-fishing purists only use dry flies, which means they rest on the surface. You also get to see the fish eat the fly this way.

Hooked: Not the same as “caught” — many times you will hook a fish, only to have it unhook itself before you can “land it”

Foul-hooked: About as bad as it sounds. The first time I “caught” a fish, I foul-hooked it in the belly. Poor fishy. Chase thought it was hilarious.

Rising a fish: Getting a fish to come up and eat a fly.

Dry-dropper: When you have both a dry fly on your line and a “dropper” below that, which sinks. We fished a “parachute adams with a dropper nymph”…Nymphs are always droppers.

little nymph — "the dropper"

little nymph — “the dropper”

obligatory dog photo

obligatory dog photo

cheers krista


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