Captain Bob lived in Idaho as his children were growing up.  They all graduated from high school in Idaho, went away for college, and have settled in other parts of the country.  It was a great place to enjoy inland fishing and we built many fond memories.

Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park Fishing

While living in Boise I spent several summers teaching on the Mountain Home Air Force Base.  At the time it was a fighter/bomber base, and the personnel were all interesting and leading edge air crews.  I enjoyed my time with them, made some friends, although personnel regularly rotated to other assignments, so a year or two at most was all you could expect someone to be stationed there.  The drive was about 100 miles from Boise, and I usually went down once a week to teach a 5:00 pm three hour class.  Why not find some fishing opportunities and go down in the morning?  It did not take me long to discover Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park.  Nestled among the dunes were small lakes that were loaded with bass and pan fish.

The lakes with easy access and good parking got hit pretty hard, so the fish were generally pretty small.  That was OK; the catch made a tasty sandwich and were fun to catch on light tackle.  I started taking my son with me, and he wanted to explore some of the less accessible lakes.  We had started mountain lake fishing using float tubes, basically a truck tire inner tube inside a canvas cover with a sling for a seat.  They are lightweight and easy to carry, and got you off the shore and fishing in spots that may not be reachable otherwise.

One nice summer day we headed out early to get some fishing in before my class started.  We had our float tubes along, and decided to get well off the beaten path and find a lake that did not get much pressure.  We arrived, unloaded our gear and started walking into the dunes.  After about 20 minutes we came upon a rather small lake that looked like it had seldom been fished, so we climbed into our float tubes, put on our swim fins, grabbed our rods and paddled out.  It did not take long to find out that we had hit a bonanza!  The lake was loaded with huge bluegills, some well over a pound.  We fished for an hour and had a full stringer, so we headed back to the car.  On the way we ran into several fishermen who admired our catch and asked us where we got them.  I don’t like to not tell the truth, but I also wanted to keep our spot a bit of a secret, so I just said one of the smaller lakes nearby the main park.  I had fished most of them and there were not very many big fish in them, so I am sure the people who asked and tried our “spot” were disappointed.  We stopped to clean our fish and had a good laugh.  Our secret spot remained a secret.  Over the next several years we fished our “secret spot” many more times with equal success.

My Window on the River

I was never sure if I had a special office or a frustrating office!  My window overlooked a dark pool in the Boise River, a river that had some good trout fishing and provided me and my children hours of enjoyment over the years.  My problem was our Recreation Management Program at the university had a class in fly fishing taught by one of our Marketing Professors.  He was eminently qualified as he held several world records for catch on fly fishing tackle.  Unfortunately for me he used the dark pool for his classroom.  It was hard to get any work done when a dozen students are practicing casting, and occasionally getting a trout hook up right under your nose!

On those days when students were on the river I would check out their success, and if they had a good bite I would often stop along the river on my way home and give it a few minutes of thrashing the water with artificial lures.  My favorites were the Mepps and Panther Martin spinners.  They were good producers, and many afternoons I went home with a fish for dinner.  Even when I was not successful, I enjoyed the peace and quiet of being on the river.  The beautiful scenery was an added bonus.

One morning I had a book representative calling on me promoting some newly published textbooks and we got to telling fishing stories.  He told me he had his father with him (they were from Salt Lake City) and wondered if I could recommend a spot to take him fishing after he finished work.  I went one better, and told him I was free that afternoon and if he wanted, I would take his father to my favorite spot on the river and give it a try.  He immediately agreed, and we set a time and place to meet.

The road in was rough from the winter ice-up, and I crawled around one bend after another with feet or even inches to spare from one side to the drop-off edge of the road.

His father was an interesting guy to visit with, and we quickly got to know each other.  Talking about fishing was the glue that focused our conversation, and he told me he had not been having much luck at home lately.  It was too hot and the bite was off.  I told him we were going to a beautiful spot on the river, but I had not fished there for several weeks so I would not guarantee anything more than a nice outing and good conversation.  He was satisfied with this, so off we went.

It did not take long to acknowledge that today was going to be one of those days when everything goes right!  In the first couple of minutes he had a fish on, and I was hooked up shortly thereafter.  The bite was hot, and it did not take long for us to each catch a limit.  We would be back in town well before dinner time.  When I dropped him off at the hotel he was all smiles and looking forward to taking his fish to one of our local restaurants and having them prepare a delicious meal to share with his son.  The book rep thanked me for my unofficial guide service, and for making memories with his dad.

The next day I was sharing our experience with a fishing buddy.  When I finished my story he started to laugh and could not contain himself.  I was puzzled, what was so funny about having a great day on the river and catching some nice trout for dinner?  When he finally calmed down, he looked at me and said “The state fish stocking truck was scheduled to put over 1,000 legal size trout in that exact spot on the river yesterday morning!”    I never told my book rep in his subsequent calls; I let him think I was the best fisherman on the river.

So You Think You are a Mountain Goat!

It was spring, and we were all tired of being cooped up for the winter.  A friend called and asked if I was going to do any fishing over the weekend.  My usual answer was “Probably!”  I never knew; the weather, the household chores, and what did my kids want to do.  I asked why, and he said his dad was in town and wanted to try fishing in Idaho.  Good enough excuse!  So we made fishing gear and pickup time arrangements.  My fishing rig was a van built on a truck chassis, and it could go practically anywhere, so we loaded up and headed for a remote lake I had fished before.  Trout season had not yet opened, so we were going for bluegill and anything else that would bite.

In selecting the lake I had overlooked one significant factor: elevation.  The road in was rough from the winter ice-up, and I crawled around one bend after another with feet or even inches to spare from one side to the drop-off edge of the road.  My friend’s dad was a little green around the gills when we finally got to the lake, and was anxious to make the first cast – which landed on ice!  Much of the lake was still frozen over, so fishing was something between terrible and non-existent.  I was glad I did not bring any of the kids.

We tried finding open water but when we did, we did not find many fish.  The trip was not a bust, we had seen some nice scenery, and some new country for my friend and his dad.  I stopped off at my house on the way home and pulled a couple of packages of bluegill fillets from the freezer and gave them to my friend, at least his dad would have a fish dinner, even if we did not catch much of anything.