Thursday, May 10, 2018

A Quick Trip to Crane Falls

Have you ever heard the phrase, "If you don't like the weather in Idaho, wait 15 minutes"? The person saying it always acts like they are so proud of that fact, like Idaho is so unique. I hate that phrase because every state I've been to in the United States claims that phrase. Let's just all agree that weather is unpredictable. Ok? Meteorologists try their hardest but they are wrong at least 70% of the time. Springtime in Southern Idaho is no exception.

Katie and I planned a quick day trip down to Crane Falls Lake; a favorite springtime fishing location. For us, the allure of Crane Falls is the variety of fish you might catch. It is primarily a warm water fishery with plenty of Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, Crappie and Perch. As well as planted Rainbow trout. With any given cast you don't know what you are going to catch. The weather forecast was for mostly sunny with calm winds, ideal for bobbing around in a small boat or float tube. 

We drove down the canyon rim to find a peaceful and inviting lake. My pulse quickened looking at the still water, imagining ourselves kicking to and fro, catching tons of fish in windless conditions. However, I've fished Crane Falls enough to know calm days down here are few and far between.

We pulled up to an easy launching location and set up the pontoon boat and the float tube. I rigged up two rods with floating lines and indicators, one with a balanced leech and the other a balanced minnow. I also rigged up two rods with sinking lines. Traditionally, the sinking lines with a leech or sheep creek special have caught most of my fish, but lately in still water I've been using the indicator set-ups and have had more success. 

Katie and I have only been married for three years and strangely she still enjoys my presence. Katie likes to be attached to my boat so we can fish together. We kicked out into the lake, tied our boats together and started fishing with the "bobbers". The wind began to pick up slightly, pushing us along the bank at a nice speed. Minor adjustments kept us a comfortable 40-50 feet off the bank. Our flies were set at about 7 feet deep so we didn't have to cast too close to the shore. We drifted along slowly and it didn't take long for Katie's bobber to take a dive. The fish pulled hard and stayed close to the bottom, a tell-tale sign she had a bass.

Crane Falls is full of "cookie-cutter" 12-15 inch Largemouth. This scrappy one was no exception.

We kept going down the bank, the wind increasing in speed and the clouds building. My indicator sunk and I set the hook on a slime rocket, AKA a rainbow trout.

Katie responded with a trout of her own.

Connecting two individually controlled boats together and expecting to have coordinated movements is delusional. 
"Ok honey, every once in a while you need to kick gently to keep us parallel with the shore," I suggested as I kicked, fighting to keep the boats from turning and catching the wind.
"Ok," Katie replied sensing my frustration.
"Not that hard sweetie, we'll turn too much and we'll be fighting against each other."
"Well you told me to kick!" 
"Kick gently so we can stay parallel and slow ourselves in the wind."
Our coordination and control improved despite the increasingly challenging conditions. The wind was now coming in gusts and it was sprinkling every now and then. The fish kept biting though!

My bobber went down and I set the hook. Immediately my rod doubled over, the fish pulled hard and I sensed he was headed for some cover. My line stopped, stuck on something and was not budging. That bugger took me into the weeds! I grabbed my fly line, gave slack to my fly rod and started to pull up on the line. Slowly it gave and eventually I had a giant pile of weeds at my feet, and at the center of it, a bass.

We kept fishing along the north shoreline, catching bass and trout at regular intervals and one large yellow perch. 

After 10 or so fish, we decided to move to the other side of the lake. I pulled Katie across with the oars and we began fishing again. Immediately were into fish, a lot of them.       

We had several doubles, each time one of us had a trout and the other a bass. 

Katie would net her fish and then I would skate my fish in and make Katie net my fish as well. Watching Katie try to unhook and handle 2 thrashing fish in the net at the same time brought a smile to my face.

After about 4 hours of fighting the wind and cold, we headed back to the truck. We landed about 25 fish. All of the fish came in on the same balanced leech and balanced minnow I tied on at the beginning of the day. As we drove past the Crane Falls boat ramp, we noticed the wind had kicked up even more and it was once again sprinkling rain. The weather forecast had been wrong, as usual. Once we got onto the highway and drove over the Loveridge Bridge we noticed the Snake River was relatively calm and the clouds were beginning to clear, bringing to mind the phrase I hate: "If you don't like the weather in Idaho...".