July Trip Report Idaho and Wyoming

gbrooker

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The low tonight in Minnesota is -18. I'm going through video and photos from my son's and my trip to Idaho and Wyoming in July and it's very therapeutic. I thought it might be a pick-me-up for others as well. You may remember the report from our time in the Bighorns in 2019. We went all in this year. Almost two weeks of camping and fishing in northern Idaho with a couple others spot in my back pocket in case things in Idaho were not what I was expecting.

MVIMG_20200714_141423 by John Berg, on Flickr
The top of the pass that brought us from Montana into Idaho. Almost a full hour of single track (more or less). The Outback was loaded down! I didn't want to have resupply for a week.

MVIMG_20200716_162712 by John Berg, on Flickr
Truly one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.

MVIMG_20200715_130442 by John Berg, on Flickr
headed to the hole right next to our campground

MVIMG_20200715_171628 by John Berg, on Flickr
MVIMG_20200716_123318 by John Berg, on Flickr
Stimulators and EHC worked pretty well but we experienced what a lot of you were reporting this summer. I couldn't believe how many people were camping, fishing and ATVing in what seemed like a pretty remote place to me. I'm sure my Minnesota plates turned a few heads. I in turn was naively surprised at all the Washington vehicles.

MVIMG_20200716_142625 by John Berg, on Flickr
Doesn't that look trouty? It was, but I finally concluded that this water was a little big for my 12 year old. His casts were consistently a foot or two short of where they needed to be. After two days of doing a lot of driving to find holes without anglers and no fish for Charlie I called an audible. We broke down camp, spent the night in Missoula and drove 9 hours to the Shoshone National Forest.

MVIMG_20200719_113953 by John Berg, on Flickr
I think this is my favorite campsite I've ever had. This was also a pretty remote spot and this time it worked in our favor. We weren't alone but we could pretty much fish wherever we wanted.

MVIMG_20200721_134448 by John Berg, on Flickr
Much smaller water worked really well for the boy. He caught lots of brookies and cutties. It started with a true heart break on the very first hole he fished. He hooked into a BIG cutthroat. Right below the small pool was at least 30 feet of hard, fast water. I knew if the fish got in there it was game over so I made the decision to get below and try to net him before Charlie had really tired him out. I got him about half in the net. This was bigger than any cutthroat I've ever caught. Honestly, at least 20 inches. It might have been 22. The fish got below me into the fast water and that was it. Instant tears. Heck, I wanted to cry. And then I noticed that during the fight I'd lost my bear spray. I started panicking. It was a hard hour drive to any supplies and we were in prime grizzly country. With little hope of success we walked downstream to see if got snagged on something. By God's grace there it was, beached on some gravel. What an intense first 15 minutes.

MVIMG_20200720_135337 by John Berg, on Flickr
We fished hard that day and caught some great fish. Excuse the finger in the lens, but this was one of the better catches. That night Charlie woke me up saying he didn't feel good. Soon we were outside of the tent with him throwing up. Remember, this was July 2020. We'd all heard that this could be a symptom of COVID. Fathers, you might be able to relate-it took a lot of self control to calm him down while I was freaking out inside. There is something about being the only adult in a situation like this that really enflamed my anxiety. If only my nurse wife was with us! In the end I think it was just fishing a little too hard in the high elevation. The next morning everything was fine so we got back to fishing in a truly stunning landscape.

MVIMG_20200720_143356 by John Berg, on Flickr
MVIMG_20200720_153120 by John Berg, on Flickr
MVIMG_20200721_134633 by John Berg, on Flickr
MVIMG_20200722_112020 by John Berg, on Flickr
MVIMG_20200720_135840 by John Berg, on Flickr
I think if we'd been there a week or two earlier it would have been ever better. This is small water at about 8,000 feet and we had to walk pretty far to find fishable holes. But they were aggressive fish who liked our dry flies so one can't complain!

MVIMG_20200724_145442 by John Berg, on Flickr
On the way home we spent a couple days in the southern end of the Bighorns. Cooperative little fish in pocket water was a great way to wrap things up. Thanks to the members here who shared advice to help me plan this trip. I'm planning the next one right now!
 

okaloosa

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great report and nice photos of some very gorgeous water........
 

cpiercem

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Outstanding report and memories for you both.

BTW it is just my opinion, but I think your boy should be carrying spray also and know how to use it. You can get test cans to practice with (no pepper in them) It looks like you're a great dad, and the relationship you are forging now will last forever.
 

gbrooker

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That's good advice. At 12 he's ready. I didn't know about the test cans. Thank you.
Outstanding report and memories for you both.

BTW it is just my opinion, but I think your boy should be carrying spray also and know how to use it. You can get test cans to practice with (no pepper in them) It looks like you're a great dad, and the relationship you are forging now will last forever.
 

LePetomane

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John, what a great time you and your son had. The two of you will have these memories forever. My kids at that age were not into fishing. It was backpacking for them. We hiked all through the Canadian Rockies.

He seems responsible enough to carry his own bear spray. Did you see any? There are plenty in western Wyoming where you were. I have not seen one in the Bighorns. Only moose.

If I had to bet money I'd say the last photo of Charlie was on upper Tensleep Creek. The expression on his face is priceless.

Now it is time for you to plan next year.
 

gbrooker

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John, what a great time you and your son had. The two of you will have these memories forever. My kids at that age were not into fishing. It was backpacking for them. We hiked all through the Canadian Rockies.

He seems responsible enough to carry his own bear spray. Did you see any? There are plenty in western Wyoming where you were. I have not seen one in the Bighorns. Only moose.

If I had to bet money I'd say the last photo of Charlie was on upper Tensleep Creek. The expression on his face is priceless.

Now it is time for you to plan next year.
We really did have a great time. The best part of these trips has been that he really does enjoy them and improves his skills every year. This year he's even been enjoying helping me plan the next one.

I definitely will have him carry his own bear spray when we're in bear country. We did not see any bears in Western Wyoming but the camp host told me one was spotted the week before we were there.

A couple summers ago we fished in the northern Bighorns and saw a lot of moose. One ran right through our campsite the first morning. Walking through the head high willows on a certain creek made me nervous every time.

You're right on with identification of that picture location. It was a good way to end the trip-- fairly easy to catch fish. Also, the Dash Inn in Buffalo has fantastic burgers, fries and malts.
 

del gue

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Excellent story, fine pics, clearly a great time was had.

Sorry about the covid scare.

At the end of my trip last year I started having issues, got a digital thermometer, started making contingeny plans in case they wouldn't let me fly back. In the end, it turned out I had bronchitis from the smoke. The key is don't panic, assess, and plan.

For me, half the fun of any trip is in the planning of it! Once he gets proficient at the trip planning and the fishing, you've set him up for life!
Good job, dad!
 

pickadrake

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Thanks for sharing the photo's ! It looked like a great trip for you and your son, that you both will remember forever.

I'm also suffering through this cold weather snap we are having in MN and your pictures help ease the pain.
 

gbrooker

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Thanks for all the kind words about my "fathering." I'm sure Charlie could tell you a story or two that might change you mind! I'm really blessed that he has come to love fly fishing as much as I wanted him to. Our kids don't always love the things we love.
 
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