Let's Talk Bull Trout

Shawn C.Shawn C. Senior MemberPosts: 5,734 Senior Member

So, I'm headed up to northern Idaho, a land of rugged individualism; a free land where they politely hide their racism and don't call the cops on any of the twelve black residents; where there are a bounty of westslope cutthroat, and purportedly, bull trout.

I've been trying to catch one of these guys for a couple of years now with no luck. I've been fishing the St. Joe at the start of the Wild and Scenic River designation in early July. I've heard that white streamers fished deep are a good bet in deep pools. Any other advice? Are the fish even up in that area of the river this time of year?

I'm going to thank Rodney in advance for his bull trout manifesto.

Replies

  • GoldenladleGoldenladle Super Moderator Posts: 3,796 Senior Member

    Go to British Columbia where they aren't listed as endangered like they are in Montana. I don't know about Idaho. When I was there I watched someone catch a smallish 12" Cutty and as he was bringing it in, a very large Bull Trout attacked it. Neither of us were prepared for it and it kind of scared me at first.

    They get really big there and you can target them all you want.

    Moved to Montana, gonna be a dental floss tycoon.

  • sherbsherb Senior Member Posts: 2,379 Senior Member

    @Shawn C. said:

    I'm going to thank Rodney in advance for his bull trout manifesto.

    😂. Face stabbing for chubs?

    I’d nymph for them. But DEEP. They only live in the deepest pools. If you aren’t picking up whities, you aren’t deep enough.

  • sherbsherb Senior Member Posts: 2,379 Senior Member

    If I had a switch rod I’d swing for them with a sink tip. But I’d wager you don’t have one.

  • Shawn C.Shawn C. Senior Member Posts: 5,734 Senior Member

    Nope. Only a sink-tip system for the end of my floating line. Still fun to hook up with some cutties with streamers so not all is lost.

  • sherbsherb Senior Member Posts: 2,379 Senior Member

    I think you can get deep enough with that

  • Shawn C.Shawn C. Senior Member Posts: 5,734 Senior Member

    orvis.com/p/instant-sink-tip-system/205z

    This^^^

    Plus a good amount of weight right at the head of a weighted streamer. The good news is I haven't killed myself with it yet. I did thump it off the back of my head last summer. No hook damage but a good thump that hurt quite a bit!

  • George KGeorge K Super Moderator Posts: 8,954 Senior Member

    I'll fill in for Rodman, but it's about a huge Letort brown, not western bulls. :) My first retirement job was working in a Carlisle, PA fly shop for six months for minimum wage, 10% commission, "key man or guide" purchases from our suppliers (read Winston LT rods for $125, or Sage top-end blanks or Abel trout reels for well less than $100, this in 1995/6) and learning more about Cumberland Valley, PA fishing in those six months than I could have in six years on my own. It may have been the best job I ever had.

    One day a couple of guys who never had fished the Letort came in. I sold them some PT nymphs, cress bugs, probably some size 20 iridescent green nymphs and some 16 and 18 sulfur emergers, duns and spinners and a few streamers. Then I told where to get access and gave them the standard truthful advice: no wading, no stomping within six feet of the bank, crouch, kneel or hide behind shrubbery or trees, preferably upstream sight nymphing over the cress and elodea beds if they're not feeding on top, and as a last resort try down and across streamers or big nymphs with an ever-so slight twitch on the swing.

    A couple of hours later they came back trembling with excitement. One of them had hooked a fish, say ten inches or so. As he was playing it a salmon-size brown swung out from under an undercut bank, engulfed the snack and took off, snapping the leader. They bought a dozen or so of the largest salt water flies we had, some very heavy tippet and headed back to fish. I never saw them again, but doubt they had much luck. Those "Letort Torpedoes" as we called them were far too smart to fall for a big fly, although every once in a while one would grab a cress bug, PT nymph or Shenk's White Minnow drifted or twitched alongside an undercut bank. Ed Shenk was the only guy I know who could land them with any regularity, and he would rarely admit to doing so, lest others follow him around.

    Keep your stinkin' government hands off my Medicare.
  • fishingcomicfishingcomic Senior Member Posts: 21,912 Senior Member

    @George K said:
    I'll fill in for Rodman, but it's about a huge Letort brown, not western bulls. :) My first retirement job was working in a Carlisle, PA fly shop for six months for minimum wage, 10% commission, "key man or guide" purchases from our suppliers (read Winston LT rods for $125, or Sage top-end blanks or Abel trout reels for well less than $100, this in 1995/6) and learning more about Cumberland Valley, PA fishing in those six months than I could have in six years on my own. It may have been the best job I ever had.

    One day a couple of guys who never had fished the Letort came in. I sold them some PT nymphs, cress bugs, probably some size 20 iridescent green nymphs and some 16 and 18 sulfur emergers, duns and spinners and a few streamers. Then I told where to get access and gave them the standard truthful advice: no wading, no stomping within six feet of the bank, crouch, kneel or hide behind shrubbery or trees, preferably upstream sight nymphing over the cress and elodea beds if they're not feeding on top, and as a last resort try down and across streamers or big nymphs with an ever-so slight twitch on the swing.

    A couple of hours later they came back trembling with excitement. One of them had hooked a fish, say ten inches or so. As he was playing it a salmon-size brown swung out from under an undercut bank, engulfed the snack and took off, snapping the leader. They bought a dozen or so of the largest salt water flies we had, some very heavy tippet and headed back to fish. I never saw them again, but doubt they had much luck. Those "Letort Torpedoes" as we called them were far too smart to fall for a big fly, although every once in a while one would grab a cress bug, PT nymph or Shenk's White Minnow drifted or twitched alongside an undercut bank. Ed Shenk was the only guy I know who could land them with any regularity, and he would rarely admit to doing so, lest others follow him around.

    And along comes Rodney to show you are a poor substitute for the original.

    'I've spoken of the Shining City all my political life. …In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still.'" Ronald Reagan
  • bmmikebmmike Posts: 125 Senior Member

    You can get them stripping weighted flies with your sink tip. The deeper you can get the better — they usually aren’t going to come up and chase or slash your fly like other trout.

    Sheb’s nymphing suggestion is good advice. Instead of nymphs under the bobber, you want a sculpin or large leach. Twitch it a little, too.

  • Shawn C.Shawn C. Senior Member Posts: 5,734 Senior Member

    Thanks, Mike. I do have some conehead leach patterns in darker colors as well as sculpins. I’ll try drifting them through deep pools with a bit of a twitch.
    Appreciate the advice, man!

  • NZ IndicatorNZ Indicator Senior Member Posts: 9,383 Senior Member

    Big Streamers. That is all.

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