By Dave Langston
We talk about fishing large rivers and reservoirs frequently. But did you know that some of the best fishing could be had fishing small streams that we drive by consistently without a second look? Some right in your backyard!
Close to my home we have a number of streams or creeks, whichever name you prefer to call them. Small streams can be a foot deep or several feet deep. I have even been in chest deep water fishing a stream that was only 5 or six feet wide and then fishing water that barely covered my ankles.
The size of the stream does not dictate how large the fish can grow. I don’t care what biologist say, it simply is not true. But the food source does.
Here is a for instance; many years ago I was fishing pebble creek near whiskey Mikes tavern above Lava Hot Springs. Most of the day we landed small rainbows and cutthroats none going over 12 inches. But I did notice that as we worked some of the out of the way and hard to get to areas the quality of the fishing was better.
The fishing was slower but the sizes of the fish were greatly improving. We started landing fish pushing 14 – 16 inches and finally I nailed a rainbow over 20 inches. This was a trophy anywhere and to take it out of a stream that is noted for harboring small fish was special. It also made me realize that small streams hold big fish… if you know where to look and what to look for.
Remember earlier how I said fishing slowed up but the quality of the fish increased? Well, for big fish to thrive small fish disappear. That’s right they disappear into the belly of the larger fish. Larger rainbows, cutthroats and browns are extreme predators and will wipe out an area.
Most anglers don’t look at it that way but if you notice, when you land a big fish the water is void in most instances of smaller ones. These larger predators have cleaned out the area of small fish and also take out any other smaller ones that happen to wander into the area.
Another tip is to look for off the beaten track areas. During my years as a columnist for the Fishing & Hunting News I directed anglers to look for water that most anglers overlook or simply don’t have the will to explore. Sometimes these overlooked areas give up monster fish.
A few years back the Portneuf River turned into a trickle between McCammon and Lava Hot springs. Literally it was a small stream that could not be seen flowing from the road. I decided to put on the waders and get into the bug infested, brush choked waterway and see if I could find fish pooled up.
The water trickled forming small pools no more than a few feet wide and a foot or so deep. In order to cast I had to flip underhanded due to the surrounding brush. I worked each pool slowly and carefully not to spook any fish that might be present. After a few hours I returned to my vehicle with my trophies, two rainbows and a cutthroat over five pounds.
If you’re willing to put on a few miles and venture into the nastiest habitat that most anglers simply will not consider, trophy fishing awaits. And most of these areas are within a short drive from home. Slip on your waders spray down with DEET and let your adventure begin!