Salmonflies & Dog Food

Each Spring Rene, Marty and I manage to get out on the water in late May for a few hours. The ritual, which is always met with great anticipation, is predictable: We meet at TroutHunter and buy a few gigantic orange flies, proceed to the Grubstake to load up on Natty Lites and ice, then laugh our way down the Mesa Falls scenic byway. Inevitably we stop at to feed the fish at the Warm River Bridge.  This stretch is closed to fishing and loaded with big trout.  Marty, armed with a small bag of dog food, works the fish into a frenzy. Watching dozens of fish rise aggressively to dog food makes us anxious to wet our lines.

At the Warm River boat ramp we casually gear up and chat with fellow anglers that we have not seen for months. This year the friendly faces are those of Jimmy Gabettas,
who owns Jimmy’s All Season Angler in Idaho Falls, and the seasoned Henry’s Fork guide Doug Gibson. Eventually Marty launches the boat. He always starts on the oars. Rene always puts his vest over the back seat as soon as we get out of the truck, kindly deferring the bow to me.

We sit rather than stand to fish, a seemingly relaxed posture that is quickly usurped by the frantic first casts against the bank. It doesn’t take long to put a few Rainbows and even a Brookie in the net. The sun breaks through about a mile into to this year’s float. The Salmonflies react by helicoptering en masse. It is an exciting reunion with the enormous insect that marks the onset of another season. The fishing goes in spurts. There are stretches during which we methodically cast for minutes to no avail and other periods during which Rene and I hit several fish on a single bank.  After landing a nice Brown, I take the oars and force Marty into the bow.

It doesn’t take long before a big trout slams Marty’s big dry.  “He took it like dog food”, Marty screams…