In the woods: River’s draw grows stronger

Kurt Jemmett of Idaho Falls caught this monster rainbow-cutthroat hybrid at Henry’s Lake last weekend. The fish weighed 11.5 pounds and measured 29.5 inches long.

My time on the roaring water of the Yampa River is still days away, but I can’t keep it out of my mind.

The harder I try to remain nonchalant about the big-water test, the more my gut churns.

I wake thinking about the canyon stretch of the famed river in Dinosaur National Monument in northwest Colorado. Sometimes I think of Warm Springs, the river’s biggest rapid. Other times I ponder the side hikes, the beaches and sandstone walls of the canyon

And I go to bed thinking of the Yampa. I fall to sleep counting chores that need done.

In between, I surf the net and try to find nuggets of information about a trip that has been on my bucket list before I knew there was such a thing as bucket lists.

I grew up in northwest Colorado and have tromped over most of that country with my dad, an amateur historian, rock hunter and pictograph finder. It is one of his favorite places and, by extension, one of mine.

As one of the tightest regulated rivers in the world, the Yampa eluded my grasp until Hopi Salomon extended an invitation earlier this year.

Now I am in the final days of preparation and the roar of the river is louder.

The boat is cleaned and patched.

The gear is laid out.

My list of chores grows shorter. Completed items are scratched off the yellow legal pad with gusto.

I’ve rowed boats for the past week, toughening my hands and sharpening my eyes.

I am ready.

At least, I think I’m ready.

The rumble in my gut grows.

I can’t wait.

• • • • • • •

As expected, fishing was good to great at Henry’s Lake last weekend.

Good weather, and an abundant trout population, conspired to make for great fishing.

Anglers picked up fish from shore, from boats anchored near creek mouths and from boats trolling across open water.

The fishing should continue to be good until the water warms.

The good news for the coming weeks is that Memorial Day weekend has come and gone and the crowds have left with it.

• • • • • • •

The stonefly fishing on the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River was tough last weekend.

The hatch was strong but the fish seemed very moody, prompting theorizing that it was too warm, too calm and too sunny.

Others theorized that water was too high and too cloudy. Persistent anglers did get some chances at some monster trout.

• • • • • • •

Some anglers avoided the Henry’s Fork and Henry’s Lake crowds by floating the South Fork of the Snake River last weekend, and they reported good fishing.

The river levels have been steady recently and the clarity is good, but not great.

Anglers are catching fish on rubber legs, glow bugs and pheasant tail nymphs. There also are reports for streamer fishing on the lower river.

Because of the recent warm water, caddis could start hatching on the South Fork in the coming days.

• • • • • • •

The South Fork’s flows out of Palisades Reservoir are expected to stay the same through the end of next week, said Mike Beus, a hydrologist with the Bureau of Reclamation in Burley.

The release out of Palisades Reservoir has been around 10,000 cubic feet per second for roughly six weeks and should stay the same until around June 6, Beus said.

At that time, reclamation officials will decide whether to increase water releases.

Beus said Palisades Reservoir should fill in three weeks. It is currently 41 percent full.

Beus said there is little chance there will be flooding downstream of Palisades.

Fish and Game officials want BOR officials to release a controlled flood to benefit cutthroat trout. Beus said his outfit will make a final decision on the controlled flood next week.

“I wouldn’t rule it out yet,” he said.

• • • • • • •

One thing I want in the fishing world: Etiquette signs at every boat ramp.

I am a firm believer that the average boater goes completely stupid when launching — or loading — a boat.

Last weekend, I saw a truck parked in the turnout lane, blocking most of the narrow launch. The guy was fishing elsewhere. I wanted to roll his rig off the ridge.

I watched a clan of anglers blow up a boat in the middle of the ramp while their friends strung rods and packed coolers. It is work that should have been done elsewhere.

I saw boats parked perpendicular to the ramp.

And I watched a noted angler sit in his boat, with his fingers intertwined behind his head, and BS with some friends while dozens of others tried to negotiate the ramp around him.

I am not sure signs would fix the rampant stupidity — I lobby for the use of shock collars — but it is a good start the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management should explore.

• • • • • • •

Biologists are trapping grizzly bears in Island Park, southwestern Montana and in Grand Teton National Park.

Visitors to those areas are encouraged to heed orange warning signs at major access points.

Gregg Losinski, a spokesman for Fish and Game and the regional bear advisory committee, said trapping will run through Aug. 26.

Losinski says the trapping will take place within the Island Park caldera and the Centennial Mountains in Idaho.

The bears are being trapped by officials from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team to monitor grizzly bear distribution in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Officials are posting orange signs near where bears are being trapped to keep hikers from blundering into recently trapped bears.

For information regarding grizzly bear trapping efforts, call Losinski at 525-7290.

• • • • • • •

Yes it is only May, but one of the most important dates on the hunting calender is quickly approaching.

June 5 is the deadline to apply for the top-quality elk, deer and pronghorn hunts in the state.

Controlled hunts are some of Idaho’s best hunts because they offer a limited number of tags during critical times, such as the rut. Success rates are usually higher in controlled hunts than general season hunts. To apply for a controlled hunt, residents and nonresidents must have a valid Idaho hunting license and complete the application/worksheet available at -hunt. Application forms also can be found on page 109 of the current big game hunting regulations.

• • • • • • •

Normally, this column is a collection of hunting and fishing information, but this week I am branching out to call attention to two unique outdoor events at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.

The first is the wildflower bloom, which is starting to take off.

Timely spring rains and warmer temperatures are making late May and early June an ideal time to see the profusion of flowers along the monument’s 7-mile loop road, according to a news release

Ted Stout, chief of interpretation and education at the monument, said early season bloomers such as wild onion and desert parsley have peaked already. The bulk of wildflowers — such as dwarf buckwheat and the pink carpets of dwarf monkeyflower — are just getting started.

The second great event at Craters is the annual Star Party on June 28-29.

The monument and the Idaho Falls Astronomical set up telescopes and allow everybody a unique look at the heavens.

It is very cool.

Call (208) 527-1335 for information or go to www