Tried and true fishing holes are great, but nothing beats the thrill of a new adventure. So, when my best buddy Abe flew in from Nebraska for Labor Day, it was time to welcome him back to Idaho in style.
I kicked around a few ideas before settling on one I’d never tried before — a raft trip on the Snake River. With fishing-friendly flows and water temperatures, I had a hunch bass fishing would be hot. It just so happened my buddy Bryce was looking for a warmup before hitting Hells Canyon in a raft this fall, so he agreed to be our oar man.
With a captain and vessel secured, the trip came together swimmingly. Abe’s flight arrived mid-morning, and by noon, we were ready to launch.
Bryce started by rowing to slack water, finding his bearings and testing out a MacGyver-rigged fish finder that worked remarkably well. I flipped a spinnerbait behind the boat and quickly picked up two fiesty bass, grinning at Abe as I tossed them back in the water.
“You’re back in Idaho, my man,” I chuckled. “I hope you’re ready to catch some fish!”
As we approached faster current, something big ran off with my spinnerbait. I didn’t want to oversell it — smallmouth bass are notorious for feeling bigger than they are — but I knew this was a nice fish. Sure enough, Abe scooped a 17-inch beauty into the raft.
After navigating our first set of rapids, Bryce pulled over in an eddy and we fished the swifter current.
Our fish count quickly rocketed into double figures, as bass continued to gobble my spinnerbait while Abe and Bryce started doing damage with swimbaits.
After 20 minutes, we hopped back in the raft and settled into a rhythm. Abe and I fished off the front of the boat, while Bryce manned the back. At least one angler had a fish on most of the time, with numerous triple-ups and too many doubles to count. Soft plastic swimbaits were red-hot, but when I started to get low on them, I switched to a plastic crawdad and didn’t miss a beat.
As the river miles went by, we admired a nice buck, an otter, a breaching sturgeon and at least a dozen blue heron. We chugged frosty Gatorade, munched on beef jerky, reminisced on old fishing adventures and started planning our next one. Cell phones didn’t work, no one cared what time it was and we didn’t see another soul on the river. It was, in a word, glorious.
At one point, Bryce challenged me to catch a topwater fish, so I tied on a hollow-bodied mouse. We delightedly watched a bass blow it up, let go, and then come back for the kill when I gave the lure a death twitch.
Moments later, Abe’s lure got crushed. I reached for the net as the familiar zing of line-pulling drag hummed off his reel. The fish unleashed two spectacular jumps before joining us in the raft — another gorgeous 17-inch smallmouth.
We fished the afternoon away, with our final tally — marked by my ANGLR Bullseye — coming it at 113 bass. We enjoyed at least five times that many laughs, too. All it took was a free afternoon with two great friends, a sturdy raft, some lifejackets and a pocketful of swimbaits.
Come back to the Gem State soon, Abe! The bass are eagerly awaiting your return, and so am I. Tight lines!
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks with him at email@example.com or visit www.tightlines208.com.