After living, fishing and guiding in the front range of the beautiful state of Colorado for 16 years the family and I thought it was time to leave the craziness of the Denver metropolitan area. Time to leave the crowded waters of the South Platte drainage. Time to leave the crowded race track and endless traffic jams of the I-70 and I-25 corridor. We thoroughly enjoyed the Colorado lifestyle and have cherished memories and friends there. We set our sights on something a little slower paced. As a family, we decided on the Boise area. It was smaller than Denver, and we had visited a few times and believed it would be a great place to raise our family of 3 kids. Plus we had friends who already lived here that had moved from Denver 6 years earlier. I was excited about our new family adventure and to be hitting new water!
The moving truck came and went, and we found ourselves settling into a friendly neighborhood in Eagle, Idaho. Very close to the north channel of the Boise River. The river winds its way west from Lucky Peak through downtown Boise, thru Eagle and eventually running into the Snake River. I could not wait to see what this river holds. I had heard rumors of big wild browns and huge rainbows being caught in this section of the river. Although they were tough to find, and you had to put your time on the water and earn them. I had also heard of the state if Idaho stocking steelhead in the river in mid-fall. I liked this! This river was in my backyard, and I was going to get to fish it anytime I wanted! Sounded perfect!
I needed info, and I need an education on my new home water. I needed to find my local fly shop! The only friends we had in Idaho told me about a great fly shop in Eagle called Three Rivers Ranch Outfitters. It was about a mile from my house. They even gave me a gift card as a house-warming present. So, I thought I would take the opportunity to take a look at what they have and pick their brain on what bugs I should start with on the Boise River. I have been in and out of fly shops since I started my obsession with fly fishing in 1992. Its always a little intimidating to walk into a new fly shop still to this day. Especially when you are new to the area, and you really don’t know much about the fishing there. I just wanted to make a good impression on them and hoped I wouldn’t be a burden of questions, pestering them to know all their secret spots that they have found after fishing it for years.
So I headed to downtown Eagle to check it out. As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed the building looked new and very nice. I was liking this shop already. I went in and was instantly greeted by a quick “Hello, let me know how I can help.” To me, its always so nice to be acknowledged when I walk into a fly shop. I gave the usual “Thank you, I am just looking.” I milled around the shop checking out their different brands of products. I quickly found out this was a full-service fly shop and outfitter; this pleased me very much. The guys that worked in the shop were accommodating and helped me with my bug selection for the Boise River. The flies they were picking out for me and dropping in the plastic monogrammed cups were so much larger than the bugs I was used to in Colorado. I repeatedly told them how nice it was to be using bugs bigger than a size18- 22! They laughed and said I should save my “Colorado bugs” for another river that was close by. I paid for the bugs, new leaders, and tippet, and as I was walking out and to my truck, I thought to myself “Wow, those guys were pretty nice!” I climbed into my truck and headed to the river!
I had heard about the snow that this area had gotten last winter and how it was the most snow they had in over 40 years. It was the beginning of August and run-off was still prevalent; which was pretty late this time of year. I could tell by the high water marks on the eroded banks, vast piles of river rocks stacked up high out of the banks and whole trees toppled over that runoff this year was pretty close to biblical. The river was much faster and wider than the South Platte river I had spent so many years on; this was going to be a challenge. I found some water on an inside turn to work. My drifts were fast but I felt they were clean. I worked that section for about an hour and caught a few fish. I thought to myself “Those boys at the shop definitely know the game here!” I didn’t catch that monster brown or that slob of a rainbow, but I felt I was speaking the trout’s language as I left and headed home for supper after working a few other runs.
I fished the river 2-3 times a week for about a month. Always quickly slipping into the shop on the way to the river, looking for that little nugget of information that would get me an epic fish on the Boise. But I had not hooked up on the fish I was looking for. Being a former guide, I knew the best knowledge about a place to fish is from the guys who are out there day-to-day. Whenever I head to a different location to fish, I usually end up hiring a guide. They know the game and are very knowledgeable of what the fish are eating and where they are holding. I quickly remembered that Three Rivers Ranch offered guide trips on the Boise River. I called the shop, because I had them on speed dial at this point, and set up a guide trip for the following week. If anything I could learn what the fish are eating and possibly pick their brains on a few other spots to try.
A week later I heard from the guide, and we set up a time to meet at the shop and hit the water for the day. I had been fishing a lot by my house in Eagle, but from the way he was talking, we were heading straight to downtown Boise. It wasn’t like it was a long way away but I just hadn’t made my way into the downtown area to fish. To be truthful, I had not even ventured into the downtown area at all but once to go to the farmers market. We talked fishing the whole way to the river, and I felt at ease that this would be a good day. We could concentrate on railing fish. We had a great day on the water. I was like a sponge, any little bit of knowledge was quickly filed away into my brain under ‘fly fishing the Boise river.’ I caught quite a few fish and some of the most beautiful wild rainbows I have ever caught … all in the shadow of the Boise State University Football Stadium. He definitely knew the waters he was guiding.
We returned to the shop that afternoon, and I was pretty excited because I had a really great day. I felt I didn’t overwork my guide and he was just as excited as I was. I was quickly met by the guys in the shop asking how the day went and wanted to hear about every fish that hit the net. I knew at that point I had found my true “local shop.” I have become friends with all of them and have been invited to fish with them as well. I have taken them up on their offer, and I am glad to say they did turn me on to the right flies to get that huge brown, and they were all there the day I caught my first steelhead in town.
So my words of advice if you move to a new place and are wanting to make friends in the fly fishing community, be nice, shut your mouth sometimes and be willing to learn. You will be surprised at how you will be on track to making lifelong friends.
AKA ~The Trout Sniper