In the woods: Sam shines on a memorable day

Eleven-year-old Sam Rolston shows off a brown trout he caught while fishing the South Fork of the Snake River on Monday.

My poorly placed fly hit the tree and wrapped around the branch.

Eleven-year-old Sam Rolston sat in the back of the boat, forcing me to swallow my best string of expletives.

The line straightened and the branch doubled over. Sam said I shouldn’t be fishing in the trees.

I laughed out loud as the entire mess broke apart, dumping five live stoneflies into the water. The live bugs skittered for safety but none made the bank. Voracious trout hammered the bugs, sending me into a frenzy.

Sam’s heart rate seemingly never jumped.

Instead, he made the perfect cast and dropped a fly into the pile of rising trout. He executed the perfect mend and set the hook like he’d done it a million times.

He played the fish for a minute, posed for his dad’s photo and then set forth to catch another trout.

By the end of the side channel, Sam had landed three of the five trout that smashed his fly. It was cause for celebration, the birth of a dry fly fishermen. It was the day a dad’s passion became son’s passion and a lifetime of shared pursuit was set in stone.

At least that is what Nate Rolston and I hoped.

Sam, however, was nonchalant.

He put the rod down, set about to destroy his lunch and told jokes to no one in particular. At one point in time, he challenged me to a “Yo mamma” thread, but I quickly found I was no match.

He pointed out birds, told more jokes and made sure his dad and I weren’t hogging time in front of the boat.

We drifted past great bank after great bank and Sam watched the world go by, seemingly uninterested in fishing.

Out of the blue, however, he picked up the rod and efficiently landed three more trout, bothered only by the fact they were browns and cutthroats and not rainbows and the hope of a $1,000 reward.

We fished and Sam worked math problems with his dad.

I wondered if a great day of fishing had hooked a youngster. I wasn’t sure until the final bank of the day. Sam landed two trout on consecutive casts.

By my count, he’d landed eight fish.

He told us, however, he’d caught 12, the most by any in the boat.

He was a fishermen, through and through.

It was a great day.

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The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has released more deer, elk and pronghorn tags to quell a minor controversy created by an oddly timed change in state law.

During its winter session, the Legislature dropped the hunting age for big game from 12 to 10. The law went into affect Tuesday, meaning 10 year olds can chase big game this fall.

A problem arose, however, when a number of 9 through 11 years olds entered the controlled hunt drawing in May. Fish and Game allowed 1,000 children to apply and 316 won highly sought tags.

Some hunters complained, however, saying the young hunters shouldn’t have been able to apply for tags before July 1, when the law took affect. They told the department that the 1,000 extra hunters diminished their chances of winning a tag.

Fish and Game reviewed the controlled hunt — and instead of taking tags away from children — Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore decided to release 283 more tags.

Hunts where these additional tags apply were posted Wednesday on the Fish and Game website. That drawing will take place as soon as possible, and the results will by available by July 10 on Fish and Game’s website.

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With the South Fork of the Snake River on fire, it is time to head to the Henry’s Fork.

Yes, I said it.

The crowds have moved to the South Fork, leaving the North Fork largely untouched over the past few days.

Fishing can be good during the day with PMDs and can be great in the evenings with caddis and drakes.

Anglers also are reporting catching fish on golden stoneflies.

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The fishing reports from Henry’s Lake have been very good.

The best action seems to be on leeches fished on sinking lines.

Because the daytime temperatures are not touching the 90s, the fishing should continue to be good for Henry’s Lake fanatics.

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The Idaho Fish and Game Commission is coming to Salmon.

The seven-person body that sets rules for Fish and Game will meet Wednesday and July 10 at the Salmon Region Office, 99 Highway 93 North in Salmon.

A public hearing will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Agenda items include season setting for mourning dove, sandhill crane and fall chinook salmon.

The commission will hear from staff on how to reduce conflicts between trapping and domestic dogs, possible discounting of nonresident deer and elk tags, acquisition of land for a potential wildlife management area, release of bighorn sheep tags for auction and lottery and a wolverine management plan.

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Chinook salmon fishing on the upper Salmon River was best last weekend upstream of the Pahsimeroi River.

Anglers downstream of the Pahsimeroi River, in location codes 16 and 17, had to work hard to find fish and averaged 202 hours per chinook caught, according to a Fish and Game creel survey. Upstream of the Pahsimeroi, anglers averaged about 13 hours per chinook caught.

As of Friday, 150 adult chinook have returned back to the Pahsimeroi hatchery. As of Monday, 157 adult chinook have returned to the Sawtooth hatchery.

As of Wednesday, the river in Salmon is running at 2,780 cfs, which is well below the historic average of 3,660 cfs.

The water conditions are good.

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Idaho Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore last week signed an order restricting the harvest of adult chinook salmon on the Little Salmon River.

As of June 27, harvest of chinook 24 inches or longer is no longer allowed from the mouth of the Little Salmon upstream to the Pollock Bridge. Anglers can continue to harvest jack salmon (those less than 24 inches) in this river section.

Any salmon 24 inches or longer must be released immediately. Anglers may keep up to four adipose-clipped jacks per day until further notice.

Harvest of adipose-clipped adult and jack chinook remains open from the Pollock Bridge upstream to Smokey Boulder Road until further notice.