When fly fishing gangster, Phil Rowley, let me know his friend, Silvia, was going to be in Boise, I knew I had no choice but to take her fly fishing…or Phil would have my legs broken. Despite being associated with Phil, Silvia is a great person. Not only is she a fish biologist for Trout Unlimited Canada, but she has been a fly fishing guide for over ten years, meaning Silvia started fly fishing before being a woman in fly fishing was cool.
“Why don’t we take my car.” Silvia said after a quick introduction in the fly shop’s parking lot.
“Are you okay with driving around in our wet waders?” I asked, knowing we would be moving from spot to spot after fishing, and things can get messy. Silvia opened her arms, presenting the car, and said “It’s a rental!”
“Well then, let me grab my stuff!”
On the way up, Silvia twisted my arm into eating a bag of chips while we stood back to check out the behavior of the fish as they were feeding on the surface, digging into the ground, eating subsurface, or just milling around.
“The fish are all acting differently; I wonder what that’s all a-boot?” Silvia said, letting her Canadian accent slip as we ate chips. I did my best to explain my theory on why the fish behave so differently during low water years. The bag of chips was quickly going dry, and with the fish starting to rise more often, Silvia said, “What do you say we get out there and catch some fish, Aye?!”
Silvia hooked her second fish in only a few casts.
“It took this little scruffy fly I had again, subsurface!” Silvia told me, as she fought the fish. The fish was putting up a great fight. I had forgot my net back home, so I was little help at this point. Silvia took care of the situation just fine by dropping closer to the water to grab her fish.
The fish was not cooperating, flipping this way and that.
“Hold still, fish!” Silvia said, as the fish continued to kick and splash. Finally the fish calmed down enough for her to get the hook out of the its mouth, and she held it up for a picture.
After her fish swam off, I went back to focusing on the rising trout I had been working just upstream. So far the fish had not taken the first few flies I had to offer, so I tied on a split-winged PMD nymph, and coated the fly and my tippet with Orvis hy-flote paste. Splash, splash! I looked over to see that Silvia was into another fish.
“It took a little black nymph!” She said, as she brought it in quickly, then released it.
“There are so many fish here in this one spot, Aye!” Silvia said, before she went back to fishing.
With my fly caked with floatant, I presented it to the rising fish. My fly was just a dark speck on the surface of the water; one blink and it would be lost. The fly floated right over the fish and passed it. Splash! In a sudden burst of energy, the fish sprang into life, and took my floating nymph. I set the hook and my fish shook its head, trying to escape.
“Nice!” Silvia yelled, as I brought in my fish and took this picture of it underwater.
I released my fish, and stood up. With a sigh I looked over at Silvia and said, “First real fish of the day! Unless you want to count those four you caught subsurface…?” I said, smugly.
“You’re a snob!” Silvia yelled. “Phil didn’t tell me I was going to be fishing with a snob today.”
Silvia was good at throwing crap back at me, so I took it a bit further…
“Well, it’s just… These fish are too easy to catch subsurface.” I told Silvia, laying on the purist-fly-fisher-mentality in my best snob accent. Silvia didn’t waste a moment to reply.
“Then what was all that European Nymphing talk on the drive up here, Aye?”
“You got me!” I said with a laugh, while I headed upstream in search for another rising fish, and I found one. I pitched out a suspended midge, and the fish took! I set the hook and the fish bolted for deeper water. I quickly regained control of the fish, and held it at bay for a picture before it threw my hook.
“It’s not like me to grow roots and stay in one spot.” Silvia said as I met back up with her.
“It’s a good spot!” I said back.
“I see you got into a fish.” Silvia said, as we started to head back to the car.
“Yeah, I got it on a suspended midge.” I said.
“Next your going to tell me that your suspended fly is a dry fly…”
“IT IS!” I protested.
“But, it’s suspended… meaning it’s not really dry.” She told me, smiling no less. We arrived at the car, and Sylvia was about to break her rod down to put it in the trunk.
“Hand it over.” I said, reaching for her fly rod. I took it and secured them both in the windshield wipers.
“Your kidding?” She said. “They will stay there?” Silvia added, sounding skeptical.
“Have you never seen this?” I asked.
“No!” She said, getting in the car. “My husband would freak if he saw this.”
Our new location look promising, as we noticed fish rising. We did a little scouting around before Silvia found some fish rising to everything but her flies. Together we threw fly after fly, and the fish would simply come up and look only to refuse them. I moved out of the way and looked down to tie on another fly when Silvia yelled, “Got it!” Sure enough, her fly rod was doubled over with the fish.
“Not bad, for a Canadian!” I said.
“I used my Canadian fly.” She said, as she brought in her fish.
Silvia held out her “Canadian” crane fly pattern for me to look at, and I must say I had never seen anything like it.
“That’s an awesome fly!” I said, and indeed it was. She gave me a few, and I headed upstream to give it a try. Back downstream I could hear that Silvia had hooked another fish, but right in front of me was a feeding frenzy. Caddis had started to swarm and the fish were going crazy. Aggressive splashing indicated the fish were definitely keyed on the caddis. I pitched out Silvia’s fly, and as soon as it hit the water a fish took!
I kept the rod close to the water to keep the fish from thrashing around and from spooking the other rising fish. After a few more fish, I called to Silvia, “How are you doing down there?”
“They seemed to have stopped rising.” She said back to me through a large bush that was blocking our view from each other.
“You have to come up here, the fish are going crazy!” I said, as I hooked another fish and brought it in just as Silvia joined me.
“I’m using your fly.” I told Silvia, as I got out of her way so she could cast. She still had on her crane fly and presented it to a specific fish feeding in the middle of the run. So far this fish had refused everything I had presented to it, and it was doing the same to Silvia. She did catch a fish, but it wasn’t the snob fish.
I switched my fly to a CDC caddis and caught another fish, then I moved out of the way for Silvia to catch a fish. This seemed to go on for quite some time, living up every second in dry fly heaven, but there was still that snob fish that wasn’t taking a thing we were presenting to it. After catching another fish with a CDC caddis, I asked, “Would you like a CDC caddis?”
“I think I have a CDC fly…” She said, opening her box. Silvia pull out this monstrosity of a CDC caddis; it had to be a size 10.
“That’s a little big, don’t you think?” I said skeptically, because the caddis that were buzzing around were two sizes smaller.
“I guess we’ll see.” She said, and got into position to cast. Her second cast hit a nice pocket, and wouldn’t you know it, of all the stupid fish it was the one unicorn of a fish that had evaded every fly. Yes, the snob fish ate her fly!
“It’s the snob fish!” I yelled, laughing in disbelief as Silvia brought the fish in, and held it up for a picture.
She took some video of her fish swimming away, and looked up at me.
“You’re right…” She said, holding up the fly she just took out of the fish’s mouth, “This fly is too big.”
“You’re cutting me deep, Silvia!” I said with a laugh.
“Well, you’re the expert.” She said, before she went back down stream in search for more rising fish.
“Ouch!” Was the only thing I could muster up to say. After the feeding frenzy, the spot was dead. But before moving on, I did catch one of the smallest browns I had ever caught on the Owyhee.
Silvia pilled off the road onto another dirt road that had sagebrush protruding all around. The branches screeched as they brushed up against the car.
“Don’t worry about the car; it’s a rental.” Silvia said to reassured me. We got out and headed through the thicket towards the water.
I led the way through the brush when a small movement caught my eye.
“FROGS!” I yelled, as I knelled down to look at them. The little frogs were hopping about carelessly as I observed. And apparently I was enjoying the frogs for a little too long, because Silvia chimed in, “Yeah, they’re frogs. Let’s get oot of the brush, and into the water!”
The spot ended up being filled with spawning white sucker fish, and we quickly moved on to our final spot of the day. Just like the other day fishing with my brother, the last part of the day had significantly slowed down. We both hooked fish, but neither fish was brought in close enough for a picture. We walked upstream, noticing the fish were not keyed into the march brown hatch that was taking place.
With the lack of activity on the surface, I switched to a pico spider while Silvia searched with her crane fly pattern. Once more she hooked a fish, but it came unbuttoned almost immediately. I went back to searching with the pico and in the middle of a riffle, a fish came up and inhaled it!
“Gotcha!” I said, setting the hook. Sure enough, it was a solid hook up. The fish was only in a foot of water, and it came in quickly.
“Let me get a picture of you.” Silvia said. I handed her the camera and she got a shot of me holding my fish.
With a quick flick of the tail, my fish was gone. The day was winding down quickly, and Silvia’s arms were about as red as the leaf on the canadian flag.
“Ahhhh. That feels good.” She said, splashing water on her arms.
“I wasn’t expecting the weather to be so nice.” She said, “The only other long sleeve shirt I have is fleece.”
“And you didn’t want to where it in 70 degree weather?” I said, questionably. Silvia laughed as we headed back to the car.
“Now that was a fantastic day!” Silvia said, as we geared down. She had easily hit the double digit mark of fish caught today, ending a fantastic day on the water.
I’m was especially happy to meet and fish with Silvia. It seems that the more involved I become in the fly fishing world, the more people I meet in many different places, making the world seem that much smaller.