Waxed cotton and waterproof matches may be the best camping invention ever made….and im getting low on both. That being said, one cotton ball one match a little wood and my fire is going without any other effort. Pate and I are sitting alone on the bank of the Lochsa River. The sun is setting and the moon is already creeping over the mountain to the south. I’m finally in steelhead country. Crossed into Idaho from Montana about 40 miles to the east and into the Pacific Time Zone, its only ten after six here and the sun is down and its almost dark. After a sunny 85 degree day in Eastern Montana yesterday, it is a balmy 42 degrees at 6 pm here in the mountains. Looks like a very cold night is in store for us, the -25 degree sleeping bag I bought two days ago looks like it might be the purchase of the century…losing its virginity tonight in a big way.
The Lochsa River is part of the headwaters of the Clearwater River and the home waters to some of the farthest traveling steelhead in the world. Steelhead are an anadramous fish, meaning they are born in fresh water migrate to salt water and then back to fresh water to spawn…rinse…repeat. Here we are about 7-800 miles from salt water. These fish make it down the Lochsa to the Clearwater, then Snake, and then Columbia River before finally the Pacific Ocean. Passing over 9? Dams…OOPS I meant dams…in that time. Once reaching they Ocean they face a war zone of predators….seals, killer whales, birds, sharks, commercial fisherman, you name it before turning around and coming back. Then its more commercial fisherman, tribal gil nets, and oh yea the damns before reaching their birthplace. People always ask me why I don’t eat what I catch…I say how could you? What an miraculous journey and amazing creature. I fish for steelhead to get a glimpse at and maybe be a small part of this cycle. To be outside, see the wild, cleanse the soul, not to fill the freezer. Im currently just fine with the raman and PB&J I just stocked up on. Unfortunately not everyone seems to share this view. Today rape and pillage (catch &keep) season opened on the Clearwater and the fish are now getting harassed with every kind of bait, lure and boat possible. The good news if the fish make it through that gauntlet to where I am on the Lochsa, they are safe as it is closed to all steelhead fishing.
Seriousness break: Pate just crawled into my open tent and went to bed instead of laying by the fire with me…great companion J
I saw some beautiful scenery and caught some nice trout in my quick week in Montana. The Bighorn River is the most amazing trout fishing I have ever seen…they fishing by Chad’s standards was slow and I still caught more trout than I could count. Bald eagles soared, pheasants cackled, ducks did whatever they do, it is a beautiful setting to spend some time. Oh Chad guides there if anyone is interested.
And what a huge state it is, took me about 9 hours from Chad’s in Ft. Smith to the Idaho border. Big sky country is an apt title, huge rolling hills, snow capped mountains, and some of the most beautiful rivers you will ever see, all along I90. The Yellowstone River is one I must return to and fish. Something about the valley captivates me and calms my soul like I cant describe….maybe even feels like home someday? For now though its onward to the coast.
The plan is for me to fish tomorrow, Sunday maybe, and then head for Seattle to take care of some business. I have a raft that I bought for a steal on Craigslist waiting for me to pick up. Getting a drivers license and storing some gear are also on the agenda before returning to the Clearwater and Grand Ronde rivers to meet up with Chad again for some serious steelhead fishing.
That’s all for now folks.