March 10 and 11 have been circled on my calendar for quite some time — it was my weekend to emerge from a monthlong fishing hiatus.
I had some great ice fishing trips in January, but February brought weeks of nasty weather and a packed schedule. I guess I can appreciate the irony of not fishing because I’m too busy writing content for the annual fishing guide, but on March 10, it was time to end this drought.
And so fish I did. I spent Saturday in Hagerman, hitting up a favorite spot on the Snake River. It was a beautiful day to be outdoors, with only a light breeze and temperatures flirting with 70. I practically sprinted from the car to the fishing hole, but I no sooner saw the water than remembered a hard lesson I seem to relearn every spring.
Just because you’re ready to fish doesn’t mean fishing is ready for you.
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The Snake was running many feet higher than usual, and was roughly the color of chocolate milk. It wasn’t a big surprise, given our crazy winter, but it was going to make things tougher than anticipated.
Undaunted, my buddies and I soldiered on. And we eventually caught some fish — a small bass, some tilapia and a strange creature I’d never encountered before (more on that next week). It was hard work, but hey, we were fishing.
On the way home, we made a pit stop to check out the scene at the Hagerman hatchery ponds. We didn’t stay long, but the detour turned out to be worth it when my buddy Bryce caught his first banana trout and my friend Justin landed a monster, 2-foot rainbow. We were too far away to net it for him, so he made an impressive, bare-hand scoop and wrestled it to the bank.
Sometimes, all it takes is one huge fish to make the day.
I ventured back out Sunday, this time from my buddy Caleb’s boat. We originally planned to fish Brownlee, but conditions looked sketchy, so we called an audible and headed to C.J. Strike.
The morning was chilly, but rewarding. The bite was steady, and every 15 minutes or so, we cranked in a fat rainbow trout. Once we had enough for dinner, we decided to look for some panfish. We searched high and low, with no luck. I eventually switched to bass gear, but no dice there, either. Every boat we talked to reported similar results.
Looks like the trout would have to do for this fish fry.
Now, none of this is to say we didn’t have fun (we had a blast), or that you shouldn’t go fishing this month (you definitely should). But when the water temperature is in the 40s, the rivers are blown out and every warm day brings additional runoff to muddy our fisheries, you have to temper expectations.
You don’t, however, have to curb your enthusiasm. Be adaptable. Be versatile. Be ready to bring the fight to the fish. If your favorite spot is flooded, try someplace new. You might not catch 50 fish, and it will probably be hard work, but hey, you’ll be fishing.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at firstname.lastname@example.org.