By: Slim Pickens

“I doubt if I shall ever outgrow the excitement bordering on panic which I feel the instant I know I have a strong, unmanageable fish, be it brook trout, brown trout, cutthroat, steelhead, or salmon on my line.”

~Edward Weeks

“It is all about dry flies and leaky waders.”

~Patrick Paul Pickens

With autumn behind us and winter on the way, many fishermen can now officially contemplate the success of their season. These become memories that we build on from year-to-year.

Were any new waters tried? A new species of fish caught? Possibly even a biggest of all time?

How about the times that we weren’t successful?

Eager friends, wanting to have a laugh this winter while looking through the mail order catalogs and reading Standing in a River Waving a Stick for the fourth time, often trigger these memories. (My copy is dog-eared because I like to look for philosophical quotes.)

Remember the time we hiked four miles into the St. Joe and you stepped on your rod? Wasn’t that great when you locked your keys in the truck while fishing a dense hatch of Green Drakes on the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene and you didn’t have a spare? Remember how cool you thought it was to tuck your rod under your windshield wiper while driving from hole to hole, and then you turned them on when it started raining?

Yes, thank you. I have a great fondness for those times and now that they are in print, I figure we can move on.

Terrific fall fishing floating the Coeur d’Alene River.

I think Howard Marshall says it best when he states in Reflections on a River (1967), “Fishing consists of a series of misadventures interspersed by occasional moments of glory.”

At least that is what I tell myself.

November 31 is the official closing dates for regular stream season here in the North Idaho Panhandle. However, if you have read this report before you know that there are still some opportunities to catch some trout in the vicinity.

A nice fall Cutty.

If you check your regulations, you will notice that many streams and rivers have a winter season in which catch and release applies. Most of these streams allow you to harvest whitefish during this time, and many people smoke them.

Eastern Washington offers a year round fishery with an opportunity to catch some huge Rainbows in Rocky Ford Creek located north of Moses Lake. If you time your departure with a heavy snowfall on Snoqualmie Pass, it cuts down on the pressure from the easterners of the state, albeit, you will still be hard pressed for solitude.

While I have never done a report on it, you can check into Crab Creek in Washington as well. Yes, I have fished it. No, it is not a secret spot. However, do to a promise and something about a million needles stuck in my eye; that is all I can mention.

If you are one of the lucky ones, a trip to the Grande Ronde in Oregon is an option from North Idaho. This is supposed to be the water to fish for steelhead if you want to do it on the fly. A short strike from Lewiston, ID, it could definitely go on an off-season itinerary.

It is also a time to relax, clean fly line, and refill your boxes with all your favorite flies.

September on the Dalles, Rock Creek.

Winter is a great time to tie flies. There is something extra sweet about catching a wild trout on a fly that you tied yourself. (I even get a kick when catching trout on a fly a buddy tied!)

If you are interested in taking it on, the numerous fly shops in the area normally offer introductory courses through the winter season. With a nominal fee, you will save plenty of time and materials in the long run.

You can also learn to do it on your own, many people do. A visit to a North Idaho Fly Casters meeting will probably have somebody that would even sit down with you and give you a demonstration.

I have decided to build my own fly rod this winter. My dad cast me into motion by giving me a rod turner he purchased at an estate sale. Then I started doing a little checking on rod blanks. Then titanium guides. And then…

You get the picture. It has to do with fly-fishing. So I am pretty much all in now. Much like when I first learned to tie flies, everything about rod building is brand new and exciting.

I recently decided to take a rod building class. I could have spent a small fortune on books, so have opted for a class by Steve Moran of Spokane, WA.

It should make for a great winter project.

All in all, I think our fisheries biologist Ned Horner was right on about the season. He had predicted a greater number of large fish for the region then we had seen in awhile. I sure noticed it.

Hopefully, the snow will fall heavily and leave our great fishing watersheds happy and healthy for another season to come.

We love to hear from our readers.

~Slim