Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Magical Weather and Great Fishing on the Upper Nunya

Dragging bottom in our blue-bathtub-looking drift boat down the Upper Nunya wearing a new hat the last couple days was a dream come true for me and Granny.  The summer of 2012 escaped us back in August.  The last time just the two of us spent a weekend fishing was August 6 & 7 when we went to Hebgen and Quake Lake.  That’s way too long ago.  But visitors, a longer than expected trip back east for Dads surgery then One Fly week and lo and behold it’s darn near October!

Just sleeping in the back of the truck Monday night felt good.  I don’t care that I need to mold my body around the wheel well of the Explorer to get comfortable.  I don’t care that we froze because temps dropped below freezing.  It’s good to back to my fishing bum ways sharing time with the Granny.

After a fun Monday night at the nearby brew pub, Granny and I pushed off Tuesday at 9 AM under clear blue skies and a rapidly rising thermometer.  The only damper was that a guide boat put in while we were getting ready.  We were loading up at a snails pace so it was our own fault the dudes jumped ahead of us.  The sad thing is we never saw another boat on the Nunya until last year.  Now we see at least one every trip. 

It only took a matter of minutes to put the first fish in the boat.  Granny was rigged with my Ross RX 5-weight and two winged Chernobyl’s spread 5 feet apart.  I’ve mentioned before, few people twitch and make flies look natural like Granny.  She had fish leaping all over her rig including this nice brown that ate her upper fly. 

Fishing was steady until the day got hot.  We weren’t catching many big fish but little brown trout and one respectable steelhead looking rainbow were munching our flies like crazy.  But when the temperatures reached the upper 70ยบs the fishing shut off so we started reducing the weight of our cooler while dead drifting downstream. 

The best part about dead drifting down most rivers is the quiet.  Rowing and casting make more noise than you think.  When you glide silently you’d be amazed at all the wildlife you see.  The bird life was plentiful of eagles, ospreys, various hawks and if you have sharp eye you can pick up on a lot of migrating song birds this time of year.  The green-tailed towhees were abundant hopping along the rivers edge feeding on mayflies and at least several species of warblers were in every willow bush. 

We experienced an impressive number of mammals. Numerous pronghorn antelope swam the river and plenty of mule deer came down for a drink.  But this is the season to see bull moose.  They’re in the rut and unfortunately for them, they get extremely bold.  Granny and I saw more than six handsome bulls that stared at us as we drifted by.   

Fishing picked up again as things cooled down for the evening.  Granny hoisted in several more spectacular brown trout.  It gets dark noticeably earlier these days so at 7 we pulled off the river and set up camp. 

The coyotes were amazingly vocal as were a few great horned owls.  Granny made an extraordinarily hardy camp meal to keep us warm on another cold night.  I cleaned the boat which included crushing all Granny’s tall boy beer cans then I sipped red wine and watched the leaves change.  There’s not a much more beautiful representation of fall than a colony of cottonwood trees bursting in yellow and orange at sunset. 

This morning was a little brisk to say the least.  Day two of our float entails about 18 miles of river so despite cold “unfishy” conditions we pushed off at crack of dawn.  Granny bundled up like on a February ice fishing excursion and rowed until the sun was high enough to warm the air.  I punched out streamers through icy guides and surprisingly landed several nice trout. 

When morning got warm Granny was ready for the rod.  Let’s just say Granny fishes and she’s darn good at it.  But for her to fish hard from morning till dark with no more than one or two beer breaks - that’s unusual.  Granny isn’t the maniac fishing psycho her man is.  However today was different.  It might have been the fact she hasn’t fished much the last month.  Perhaps it was because the fishing was insane.  Honestly, Granny never stopped casting and never stopped catching fish. 

Today Granny caught more fish in a day then she ever has in her life.  We don’t keep count but if it were a contest I’d be clearing space in my den for her 1st place trophy.  I swear Granny was hooked up no less than once every five minutes.  One time she landed seven browns in seven casts.  Her sheer numbers of brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout were ridiculous! 

Earlier I mentioned the numerous moose we saw and how the coyotes were howling like crazy last night.  Coyotes always howl on the Nunya but last night they put on a concert.  Today we found out why.  We stealthily floated around a corner and downstream on river left there was a coyote ripping on a skeleton.  It’s uncommon that you spot a coyote before he spots you but he was focused on protein.  We finally spooked him when Granny hooked a brown and he heard the splash of the first jump.  We pulled in to check out the carnage and sure enough there was a freshly cleaned moose skeleton with coyote tracks everywhere.  There was no evidence how the moose died but the small amounts of remaining flesh were still fresh.

The biggest fish of the weekend was a brown of about 19 inches but it was this shorter but perfect specimen of a cutthroat that we’ll remember best.  Not because this is such a beautiful cutty, but because it reminds us of a significantly bigger cutthroat Granny hooked earlier in the day that we lost by the net.  The one that got away was massive!

Granny and I had a magnificent two days away from it all.  We both needed the time away and together.  I feel we’re back on track.  We’ll fish the famous Kubswin Lake next week for huge browns with friends.  After that, who knows but its all about fall fishing from here on out. 

I have better news on Dad as well.  Dad got out of the hospital on Monday (the unexpected trip back) and returned to the rehab/nursing home.  Mom said he’s doing much better than before and walked with a walker by himself.  This may not sound like much but it’s a huge jump from when I left New Hampshire.  He’s still confused but actually showing signs of improving his awareness in everything.  He asked Mom to get him an ice cream from his favorite parlor in Wolfeboro the other night.  Good sign!  The photo is Dad with my niece Sierra.

I’ll be sneaking to Jenny Lake on Friday.  Be sure to check in for the report.


  1. Looks like an amazing trip Jeff- makes me want to hop in my Jeep & head back out there! And glad to hear your Dad is making progress! Tell Yvonne I'll be in touch soon.

  2. I would take you on that trip. My God, you and Granny for two days - I'd have my hands full! I'd love it though.

  3. Oh, I would love that Jeff! Maybe next spring.

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  5. i can only assume you have dropped "monsoon" in favor of "Tex" with your new hat. great to hear your dad is improving.

  6. Ha! Several years ago Mick Hall of Australia and his buddies stayed with Granny and I. They left us like five of these nice Australian cowboy hats. I kept one and its been collecting dust. Well, I felt like changing up this week and I kind of like it! Booked for Jersey in January! Granny may not come so I may ask you for some help!