Playing with dollies in the desert – it was a bunch of bull!

OK, the bull trout isn’t exactly a Dolly Varden, more like the Dolly’s cousin, but close enough. The bull trout has been on my species list for a couple of years, ever since Dan and I tried finding them during a summer trip to check out the “Alvords” as we returned through the Jarbidge Mountains. We were unsuccessful on that trip.

As with many of our trips, we started out off heading through the deserts of southern Idaho in arid land. This year it has been especially dry. Bull trout are in need if cold, clean water. Our goal was to hit some tributaries of the Little Lost River system. It’s in the heart of the Lost River Range which is home to 12,660′ Mount Borah. A mountain range of some of the highest mountains I have seen, that are so godforsaken to look at. Usually (unless you’re talking southern Nevada stuff), when you get mountains that are over 4000′ you get some nice forests covering at least the northern slopes. Not these mountains. They are barren looking from top to bottom. So it was a real surprise that our destination for such a coldwater fish was in such a place. Anyhow, we were traveling across the heart of the Snake River Plain when I realized I had left both cameras at home. DOH! I did have my iPad (not very practical to carry in your wader’s pouch or slip in a back pocket) and my cell phone.

Um…about me and cell phones. I don’t own a “real” cell phone. For some reason this info always comes as a surprise to my workmates and friends. I’m “the tech guy” at school (I’m a teacher) and always address people’s tech questions and help to keep as many of our computers (about 150 of them) running as smoothly as possible. If something comes up, and they say, “Well, just check your phone,” I tell them I don’t have one and they’re shocked. “You don’t have a cell phone?” Then I launch into this lengthy explanation that I do have one, I just don’t carry it (hey, I like to be unplugged, OK?). Well, I do carry it, but only if I’m on a trip. So, I had the cell phone with me, but it’s a TracFone. That’s a pay-as-you-go phone (I get like 1000 minutes a year and only use about 200 of them – I think I’ve texted three times in my life, all last year). Anyhow, I had the phone, I took pics, and there they sit, on the phone (apparently the only way to get them off is to get a bluetooth dongle). So here is a second post in a row without a full set of photos because some dodo brain is still trying to get his act together.

Our DestinationJust north of Howe, Idaho we entered the Little Lost Valley. We had about 50 miles to go until we actually entered the mountains. Luckily some signs of splotchy green appeared on some of the mountainsides a few miles up the valley. Our road turned to oiled gravel half way there, then to gravel. We could see a low pass in the mountains with quite a bit of forest in the background and knew this must be our destination.

Just after entering the foothills, we came across the best sign of the trip: “Angler’s: You are in Bull Trout Country!” (we’ll forgive the spelling error, but just barely) We needed to go another five or so miles to get to where we wanted to fish. But when you have water that looks like this, it’s hard to resist for long.

Bull Trout Habitat

We resisted, barely, until we found our creek. It seemed like it was going to be a rough day when in my first 10 casts I lost two flies and didn’t raise a thing to the surface. But I got the jitters under control and hooked my first bull trout about 15 minutes into the fishing. Wow, what a pretty little fish it was (there is a fine picture on my cell phone – next time you’re in the area, ask me, and I’ll show you). It wasn’t very big (about 7″), but he sure was a looker.

I caught my second bull trout a few casts later, and he would end up being the most gorgeous fish of the day with an incredible golden belly and about 10″ long. (Again, I’ve got a great pic on the phone.) The day would end up going like that, with a fish on my line or Dan’s pretty much every few minutes. We must have caught 40 or so each in the six hours of fishing we put in.

I love my cutthroat trout, but combined with the scenery and the look of the fish, wow – I’ll play with dollies in the desert any day, and that’s no bull!

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2 comments for “Playing with dollies in the desert – it was a bunch of bull!”

  1. Great trip! Nice to see you blogging again. Want to come to tx and fish the salt?

    Posted by kevin | July 9, 2012, 11:00 am
    • I’d love to! We’ll actually be in Arizona/New Mexico going for some Apache, Gila and Rio Grande next week (we’ll see about what’s left of the fish since they’ve relocated some because of fires). But I don’t think we’ll have time to make it to Texas (I have to be home in time for my 25th anniversary next Saturday, so we’re on a tight schedule). Hey, nice shoe rack by the way – way to earn some fishing time with that baby! Did you ever make it up to the Little Lost when you were living there?

      Posted by Cutthroat Stalker (Scott) | July 9, 2012, 11:33 am

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