Fishing The Henry's Fork....Bob's Secret Hole
My little girl, and kids in general, don't seem to understand catch and release. Granted, I really hadn't caught anything to release,(except that seven.. err.. "FIFTEEN INCHER") it was still hard to return to the yurt and explain my lack of fishing success. She would greet me with her big "daddy can do no wrong" eyes, and expect me to tell her of the "whopper" that got away.Especially since she is used to fishing success, since most of her fish are caught in Grandpa's Pond, where it is basically a "live well" ready to pull out the catch of the day on a moments notice. So, when daddy comes home with no fish or no fish story, you can see the "daddy just dropped a peg" look on her face. BUT-kids being kids, she is ready to go on to the next thing, and that meant a bike ride through the state park to the old Harriman Ranch.
We rode the mile or so to the old historical buildings that sit on the grounds of the state park. The ranch was "one" of the summer homes of E.H. Harriman, of Union Pacific Railroad fame,and is operated as a wildlife sanctuary now.
The bike ride goes along the Henry's Fork and while my daughter was chattering away while pedaling along, I kept glancing to see if any fish were rising.
Old habits are hard to break.
We got off our bikes and started to explore the buildings. Unfortunately, this being a weekday, they didn't have many of the buildings open so we couldn't go inside. One of the groundskeepers saw us peering through the windows of the buildings and wandered over on his riding lawn mower. He shut off the engine and gave us the rundown on the buildings and told us a little background on the ranch. He mentioned that if we were still there on Friday, they would be opening the buildings and doing some tours.
Now, being a groundskeeper in a state park in Last Chance Idaho must not be one of the most high pressured jobs one can be employed in--because "Bob"--was a chatty fellow. You might be wondering how I knew his name was Bob?--Well, I of course read it on his name badge!
A.J. Klott--private eye!!!
Anyway, "Bob", was filled with questions. Where were we from? How long were we staying? What were my views on existentialism?
O.K.-- the last one he didn't ask--but if he did- I wouldn't have been surprised,because a guy can do a lot of thinking on the back of a riding mower.
But I digress once more.
So, the conversation eventually turned to fishing the Henry's Fork. I of course asked how the fishing was on the ranch here, and "Bob" proceeded to tell me that he did most of his fishing above the reservoir in the "anything goes-six fish limit section".
He then did something that you would expect from a guy on the back of a riding mower in Last Chance Idaho. He offered up his "SECRET FISHING HOLE".
Maybe it was the look of undernourishment my daughter had, or maybe he just thought I was a "friendly sort"-- but nonetheless-- "Bob" was ready to unlock the key to Henry's Fork.
He told me he didn't usually do this, but he just thought that I looked like a guy that would appreciate his "Secret Spot". AND if you think I am going to breach "Bobs" trust by telling you where this spot is, well you are wrong!! What I will tell you is "Bob" went to great lengths to hand draw me a personal map--kind of like a Henry's Fork treasure map-- right on my brochure to the ranch grounds. He also gave me detailed instructions--like: "turn left at the Phillips 66, drive down to @#%$^* road, make a right and go EXACTLY 3.3 miles, make another right, drive down as far as you can go, hike on down to the river, walk downstream to the BIG ROCK, toss your worm or lure or fly behind that rock and I will guarantee you will catch a fish!!"
I didn't even get that from any of the fly shops!!
"Bob" was pretty sure of himself, and I looked his map over carefully and contemplated eating the brochure, just to make sure that only "Bob" and I would be the two individuals in the lower 48 that held the whereabouts of the "Secret Spot". I asked if "Bob" needed a blood oath or if he had noticed any of Ashcroft's men in the area-- because I didn't even want the government to know about this spot. None of this seemed to worry "Bob" and I don't really like the taste of 20# bond--so I stuck the brochure in my back pocket, and told "Bob" I would try the secret spot that evening and bring him a full report by weeks end.I also told him not to worry about "divulgeing" the whereabouts of the "Secret Spot", because this was my first time to fish the Henry's Fork, and I wasn't about to go back and "squeal like a canary" back in Southern Oregon.
Luckily, my daughter was busy chasing butterflies while all this was going on, or I would have had to send her to one of those "brainwashing" places so she would have no recollection of the "Secret Spot".
"Bob" also told us about the springs where the Henry's Fork originates and that it was a nice place to visit and see big fish and an old cabin right where the water boils out of the ground.
That was public knowledge.
Before long we were off to the springs and I was planning my evenings fishing...at "Bob's Secret Hole".
The afternoon was pleasant and the springs were enjoyable, but I was really getting excited to go fishing. Of course, seeing the 25 inch rainbows lying beneath the gin clear waters at the springs, didn't help to quell my excitement.
By 7:30 I could not wait any longer. I pulled my personal map out and headed for the "Secret Spot". I followed the map to the "T" and made sure nobody was tailing me. You can't be to careful with "Secret Spots". When I went exactly 3.3 miles from the turn--there it was-- the dirt road that turned towards the river. I had my wife and daughter with me, and fought off the urge to blindfold them, figuring that after twenty-six years of marriage and having the "fruit of my loins" in the back seat, if I couldn't trust them--who could I trust?
Anticipation was great.
I saw the end of the dirt road coming and the little parking area "Bob" had described. I pulled to a stop and..............
............saw three other cars in the "Secret Spot"!!
"This can't be." I said. "This is 'Bobs Secret Hole',--maybe "Bob" is here?"
I got my waders on quickly and headed down the trail to the river. Everything was exactly as "Bob" had described it so I knew I was in the right spot.
When I got to the river, it looked great--definitely a "fishy looking place". I walked on down to the trail and saw the BIG ROCK-- and behind it.... three other fishermen!! Of which, none were "Bob".
In "Bob's Secret Hole". OR should I say "NOT SO SECRET HOLE!!"
I looked back upstream and saw four more fishermen in other spots.
Counting me, that made eight people in this "Secret Spot", and before I could even wet a line another two showed up.
That totals ten, for those of you keeping track on your "Secret Spot" tote board!!
I fished up and down and for two hours and never touched a fish--even behind the BIG ROCK--and I never saw anybody else touch a fish either! That includes the guys using bait and lures. I even waited until I was the last guy on the river--but to no avail.
What happens when you get a guarantee from a groundskeeper named "Bob" and it doesn't come through??
Well, you do what I do. Pack up and head for Montana!!
But not before using that map to "Bob's Secret Hole" to start the evenings fire!!
In hindsight, I learned alot about the Henry's Fork. It is a beautiful place to fish, as tough a place to catch a fish on a fly as advertised, that bringing hamburger meat is a necessity,and that I fully expect to go back and fish it again. Maybe this fall.I also learned that guys on the back of riding lawnmowers don't typically get paid to guide you to the big fish, and even though I am sure "Bob" catches some fish there, I think when I go back.... I'll just let "Bob" have that "Secret Spot" to himself.
He and the other nine fishermen....
A.J. Klott Author, writer of fishing humor,and "fly tack" peddler.A.J. writes about the people,characters and modern day events that surround the fishing world. His first book is due out in December of 2005. If you need a laugh or a fun gift, visit his website at: Fishing Gifts - the perfect Fly Fishing gift!
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