My husband and I returned to the Swallows Nest area of the Snake River today for a few hours in the late morning and early afternoon. The autumn weather was gloriously sunny after the early morning’s cloudy gloom. The spectacular autumn colors were a blessing more than enough to offset being–yes, skunked again!
Pisca-Dory, ready for launch
The colors of autumn at the boat ramp
We took Pisca-Dory out fishing on the river Saturday–her first outing in six weeks! The day was lovely and we were so happy to be back in our dory (my husband was recovering from surgery and hefting the boat onto the trailer was out of the question).
We didn’t mind a bit that we were skunked again. We saw a steelhead jump, his brawny pink middle and head teasing us. He was back in the water in a second, and there was no time to take his photograph.
We enjoyed the scenery along the river in our beautiful boat for 3-1/2 hours. My husband took all the photos. I was fishing a tad obsessively.
Snake River colors
We decided to make our first visit to Waha Lake today and see how it would be for fishing. The 94-acre lake has trout, bass, crappie, and pleasant scenery of the Waha Mountains and lots of trees. Waha Lake is south of Lewiston, Idaho, about 45 minutes from our home in Washington near the Idaho border. We hold fishing licenses for both states.
After driving down an unpaved hill to the parking lot, it was obvious that our truck and boat trailer wouldn’t fit. Vic barely managed to get them turned around so he could unload the boat at the ramp. He tethered the boat and returned to the top of the hill where there was room to park our Ford 150 and trailer, and walked back to the dock, which took just a few minutes. I remained with our boat while chatting with an amiable lady fishing from the dock. Her husband was fishing from the shore, and he caught a large trout and hailed her to let her know he had “one on!”
It was my turn to be skunked, but Vic caught two hefty trout, 14-1/2 and 12 inches. I helped him net them so they would not escape–trout can be canny about staying on a hook.
The scenery was serene and refreshing, and the lake was quiet. Very few fisherman were out, and none were in boats, except for one kayaker. I think it’s likely we will return soon.
I chat with a woman fishing while Vic parks our truck up the hill from the boat launch.
Vic runs Pisca-Dory’s motor.
Rocks and plants along the shore
Vic’s 14-1/2″ trout
A canola field provides colorful scenery along the way home.
Fishing can sometimes be more about a quest than about catching fish. It can even be more about being out on a river in a beautiful home-built boat, having lunch on a little island in the river, and catching no fish. I did catch a 4-inch baby trout, which was well below the Clearwater River’s legal limit of 10 inches. My husband immediately extricated the two hooks of my lure that had penetrated the young fish’s mouth, and released him to grow big and sporty. I was just happy to see the little guy swim away.
We spent a couple of hours out on the Clearwater and Snake Rivers fishing, and stopped to have our lunch on the little island I named Pony Island our first time there.
When we returned to the boat launch, my husband went to get the truck while I waited on the dock with our boat. I watched a man fishing from the shore next to the boat launch. He caught and released two bass, one of them quite large, within a couple of minutes. Sigh.
Old railroad bridge across the Clearwater River
We moored Pisca-Dory at Pony Island while we ate our lunch.
No, we didn’t catch any fish. We tried, but none took us up on our offer to take them home with us. We have licenses to fish in both Washington and Idaho. The Clearwater River is on the Idaho side until it joins the Snake River at the boundary. The Snake flows along the boundary until it meets the Clearwater, at which point the Snake is in Washington. It’s complicated.
We moored Pisca-Dory at an enchanting little island and clambered up a trail. We named it Pony Island, after a dream I had when we were in law school.
on “Pony Island”
Both rivers are beautiful, and normally afford wonderful fishing. Right now, water temperatures are in flux and the fish seem to be laying low, though I observed one bass take a dramatic leap.
It was a lovely day; storm clouds gathered, but never broke while we were out on the rivers.
Pretty yellow flowers on Pony Island
Trail on Pony Island
Heading back to the launch
My husband came home from work at 10:00 this morning –a very rare occurrence–so that we could celebrate our 21st anniversary cruising on Pisca-Dory and fishing in the Snake River.
The day was beautifully sunny and mild. Carp were jumping everywhere, but not biting anywhere. It was not quite warm enough for crappie or bass. Trout caught in ponds can be kept, but trout caught in the river cannot not be kept–they are catch-and-release until mid-June–but it didn’t matter; we never saw one. We saw only carp.
Spending the day on the river together on the boat my husband built was wonderful. I would much prefer being in our own boat by our own selves to any cruise, anywhere, ever. To us, the whole point of a boat is being connected to the water, the sense of being away from usual routines, fishing, and a primal sense that we are created to require earth, air, and water.
We enjoyed a spectacularly fruitful day, without catching a single fish.
Ready to launch
A coot glides around a lagoon
The river viewed from the lagoon
School of carp
A muskrat paddles around a lagoon
Vic took all the photos.
No crocuses. No daffodils, no tulips. No spring flowers yet at all. We usually have flowers by now, and we haven’t had a stem or leaf emerge from the ground. Even at five hundred feet lower elevation, spring is getting off with a yawn.
But fishing goes on! Fish remain cold and sleepy, but the ice is gone, the quest is on. We fished from Pisca-Dory on the Snake River in a light but cold rain with wind. We had our lunch in our boat on the river. My hands froze when I took off my gloves to eat. Our little propane heater warmed them enough.
Enjoying the river from our bonny Pisca-Dory taps my sensory responses to spring as surely as our beautiful flowers have done in previous years–and they may yet emerge.
My husband set up a small video camera on our boat’s deck to record our outing this 40-something-degree rainy day.