My trip to Idaho, including accommodations and fly-fishing experiences, was sponsored by Visit Idaho and its partners. All words and opinions are 100% my own. Click here for full disclosure statement.
They say that nature heals. The calm and quiet environment allows us the opportunity to reflect. The fresh air and closeness to natural wonders are rejuvenating. It’s no wonder that, during difficult times, we tend to retreat to the outdoors. We also seek out the familiar to ease our minds and recall memories tied to happier times.
All of these elements recently came together for me when I found myself in Idaho during one of the most difficult times of my life. It was a period of major transition for me. Some might even say it probably wasn’t the most ideal time for me to take off on a solo trip. But I needed it. I needed calm and quiet and to commune with nature. I also needed something tied to happier times. For me, that is fly fishing.
I first fell in love with fly fishing decades earlier when I lived and worked in Yellowstone National Park. Before I arrived in Yellowstone, I had never been fly fishing before. However, I had been spin and bait-cast fishing with my dad and grandfather for almost 20 years. As I was preparing to depart for Yellowstone, my grandfather surprised me with an antique fly rod and encouraged me to take it along. Apparently he had been fly fishing and I never even knew it! So, that summer in Yellowstone, I taught myself to fly fish and discovered a newfound passion. and also came to the realization that being out on a stream, fly rod in hand, is my ultimate “happy place”.
As I was planning my most recent trip to Idaho, there was no way for me to know what life would have in store for me just a few months down the road. I had no clue what twists and turns awaited me. One thing I was sure of, though: I needed to fly fish while I was in Idaho.
Yes, I needed to fish Idaho’s legendary rivers and streams to add to my experience as an angler. But by the time I arrived in Idaho, my mind was scattered and my spirit subdued. I needed to try to attain some peace and clarity. My first chance to do so came on the South Fork of the Snake River.
The South Fork is one of North America’s premier trout fisheries with healthy populations of brown, rainbow, and cutthroat trout. I set out on a day trip with a guide from WorldCast Anglers out of Victor, Idaho. The weather was moody, alternating between brilliant sunshine and driving rain. It didn’t dampen my spirits, however. In fact, my disposition improved the instant I got into the drift boat and my guide began maneuvering through the gorgeous Swan Valley. I caught at least a dozen trout on the South Fork that day, including the biggest fish I’ve ever landed on a fly rod: a 20-inch rainbow trout. I was definitely in my happy place.
A couple of days later, I got to do it all again. For my second day out, I went with a guide from Three Rivers Ranch (TRR) in Warm River, Idaho. First of all, TRR is now at the top of my list of the most amazing accommodations I’ve ever experienced. Therefore, plenty of TRR coverage is forthcoming. Back to the fishing… my TRR guide was shocked when I asked him to take me out on Henry’s Fork instead of the South Fork. He asked, “Do you want to catch big fish or a lot of fish?” I explained that I’d been out on the South Fork earlier in the week and I really wanted to experience the storied Henry’s Fork. “Then a lot of little fish it is,” he said.
And he was right. While I didn’t land anything as majestic as that 20-inch rainbow, just being on the water, surrounded by heavenly scenery, was enough for me. That evening back at the ranch with the other guests, I was able to relax. Inhaling deeply, I felt a lightness, as if an enormous weight had been lifted from my back. A feeling of calm and clarity came over me and it was at that point I knew I was ready to head home and face the changes and transition.
My days on the water in Idaho were about so much more than fly fishing. I didn’t realize it at the time but those streams gave me exactly what I needed, beginning with memories of happier times and ending with my spirit replenished.