This day has been on my mind since October 27th, 2018. That was the last day of a 2 day, 3 night backpacking/fishing trip that I took into this canyon last fall. The spot that I ended at that day was where I hiked back to and started fishing up from on Monday. The goal was to fish up to the top of the 3 mile canyon. Even though the majority of the water that high up in the canyon was frozen over, I will still say that I have now fished the whole canyon.
I started out the hike at about 8 am and walked the first mile to the start of the canyon at a slow pace due to the trail having at least a foot of new snow and nothing compacting it down besides mule deer and elk tracks. And speaking of those animals I can’t tell you how many muley’s and elk I saw at the entrance to the canyon… It was a cool experience.
Once in the canyon the hiking got easier and I started making tracks. It still took me much longer than I had expected to hike back to where I had ended last in the fall, but with these views the time went by quickly. Once I got to the ending spot I began fishing upstream. During the hike up to here I had noticed that there was significantly more ice build up and snow at the top end of the canyon and this made for some tough fishing. I skipped over a lot of iced over spots and walked around a few long, iced over pools that probably would have normally been excellent to fish. Finally, around 11 am I looked up and saw where the canyon walls opened up and I could see the end of the canyon and the far off mountain peaks in the distance. I had made it!
Right at the top of the canyon was a large rapid that created an open pool that wasn’t iced over and I was able to pull a few fish out of there dragging streamers on the bottom.
Around this time the sun peaked out for the first time of the day and the temps warmed up considerably. After catching a few fish in the top pool I began the hike back and hiked downstream until I found more open water.
Once into more open water the fishing really picked up. Where I could find open water that was slow and deep I found fish stacked up. There were multiple holes where I pulled out 2-5 fish. All on streamers, mainly dead-drifted, but also stripping some bigger articulated streamers as well. I tried out a Drunk and Disorderly streamer for the first time today and absolutely loved its action before I lost it in the depths. The fish loved it too.
As the sun fell below the canyon walls I made my way to the entrance of the canyon and fished there until close to dark. The bite slowed down but the scenery was beautiful and I made a river friend.
I look forward to the coming spring days that will completely free up this river from the restricting ice and the early summer days when the water will be high with snowmelt runoff and the canyon will be buzzing with salmon flies.