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Vast, dry, sage-covered plains stretched across the steep slopes that surrounded me. As I stamped on the ground, a small cloud of dust exploded around my boots and slowly drifted away. The incredibly bright sunshine shone down from a cloudless, brilliant blue sky, thank goodness for my sunglasses and a hat. Oddly, a 100-foot-wide strip of dense willows meandered up the valley in front of me, and in the middle of these meandering willows rushed a clear trout stream, singing and babbling between the stones.

Is it possible that anything could live in this sparkling, clear water in these dry conditions? It must be too warm for trout, but when I stuck my fingers into the fast current, the water was surprisingly ice cold.

The water itself is crystal clear, incredibly transparent. Even a 4-pound line leaves a shadow on the bottom. I’m glad my small reel is loaded with fluorocarbon monofilament to camouflage my presentation. How far can trout see you? There’s little doubt that these conditions require creeping and crawling to stay out of sight.

I parked at the KOA campground where I just took my first shower in three days. We slept in tents up in the valley, slept on cots, ate in a cook tent, and walked 100 yards to the primitive outdoor toilet. You can talk about TVs, iPods, phones, computers, email, gas stoves, electric lights, and fluffy beds, but a hot shower is the true sign of civilization and a true, blissful comfort. I was lucky enough to kill a nice mule deer buck. Now I can fish.

After that steaming hot, soapy heaven, I felt much more human and it was time to grab the UL and go fishing. The driveway to the campground crossed the creek and there was a large, deep hole swirling below. There were several trout in the swirl. For a boy from the East, it was a dream come true to see so many trout in a heavily fished creek.

I crept to the foot of the loch, slithering through the willows like an eel. The boot prints of a previous fisherman were still muddy on the small beach in front of me. This small beach was the only area from which fishing was possible, but these marks did not bother me at all. Any fisherman naive enough to stand within sight would spook every fish in the loch.

After waiting five minutes, I cast and let my piece of earthworm drift through the hole. Several rainbow trout shot up in the eddy, hit the worm, immediately released it and returned to the depths. I managed to catch one, then sat for a while thinking.

Surely there had to be more trout in the deeper part of the loch, under the fast-flowing water under the bridge. Perhaps the fish that were actively feeding were there, while those in the still water were not hungry. I put on two small sinkers and cast as far under the bridge as I could, leaving my line slack to get a deep drift. I pulled it tight just in time to feel a bite. As I set the hook, my UL bent in a deep arc as the trout shot out of the current and did a complete somersault in that brilliant sunlight, surrounded by a halo of water droplets. Wow, what a beautiful sight.

I couldn’t believe how hard the trout was fighting, and when it finally hit the beach, the bright red gash on the underside of its jaw was clearly visible, identifying it as a cross between a rainbow trout and a cutthroat trout. The rainbow trout was tough and lean, and when I unhooked it, I quickly realized that those tiny little teeth were longer and much sharper than those of the eastern trout I was used to. Since I had forgotten my pliers, my index finger was soon slashed and bleeding from releasing one trout after another.

The next morning, Gary Housely and I explored a nearby reservoir in daylight. The water was also crystal clear, you could tell a trout from a bass at a depth of ten feet. At that depth you could clearly see the shadow of the bait gliding across the bottom; such clarity is hard to believe, it was more like glass than water.

Within an hour we had landed a dozen rainbow trout each, up to 18 inches long. About one in six trout sighted would bite a carefully presented fly as long as you stayed hidden. The number of fish that took the hook was astonishing, and many more trout were simply too far from the bank to reach. In water this clear, even the movement of the fly rod spooked them.

This area of ​​Idaho was a paradise for trout. You could easily catch 100 trout a day, or more if you fished long enough, especially in the river. Gary Housley from Tennessee and I caught enough trout to feed the 24 hunters in camp and fried them for breakfast the next morning. You couldn’t believe how quickly those crispy pieces of trout disappeared. Most were just amazed at how delicious trout was when properly prepared.

So, hunters, if you’re planning a trip out west this fall, pack your fishing rod, too. You won’t regret it.

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