Thursday, September 13, 2012

Rubbing Elbows with Legend & Legacy

Silver Creek

In a timeless place, there'd be water, distinct, but not separate from the land; the land, separate from the sky by color. There'd be past, present, the whole, there'd be Silver Creek.

Joe Brooks

Lingering romance surrounds famed outdoor enthusiasts Joe Brooks' and Ernest Hemingway's celebrated visits to Silver Creek. I've been fly fishing almost 10 years, so plenty of skilled anglers have notched their belts before my excursion, still I marvel at trekking in legendary footsteps, and at the history of place.

Glory days of legend transitioned into legacy, thanks to Jack Hemingway, The Nature Conservancy and visionary farming and ranching landowners. Together they committed to making Silver Creek Preserve accessible to the ordinary angler, as well as the celebrated.

The picture above is a bit hazy. (Click it for larger view.) It was taken through the framed glass at the Silver Creek Visitor's Center and is included to give some perspective: Silver Creek is spring fed from an aquifer in the Big Wood River Valley. The water is crystal clear, a constant temperature year round and abounds in insects steadily feeding a extensive population of trout.

There's a pod of rainbows schooled dead center in this underwater photo taken topside. The creek is full of healthy weed beds, gravel, sand and along the grassy shoreline, occasional good wetland muck that sucks at your wading boots. These trout were taking a siesta and not regularly feeding.

On our first day, we fished for a few hours, then made camp on the creek, outside the preserve. Around dusk, a party of women set out in their canoes to fish and upon their return, hilariously set up 2 tents around 1:00 AM. Ordinarily, I'm rather cranky when unceremoniously awakened, but the women were so enjoying their creek outing, it was hard not to enjoy it with them.

Our camp was on the rod side of the fence. Note the grass is as tall as the fence.

Arizonans are used to long summer days. Idaho however, must be on the southern edge of that part of the hemisphere that experiences long summer days. Add daylight savings on top of it! It was light from around 4:00 AM to 9:00 PM. By the time the moon rose, it was pretty late, but not too late to try fishing from our backyard.


I was fishing a 2 fly rig, in tall grass, in the dark. I finally reeled in, skunked, turned to Donna and said, "There's 'sumthin' to being able to cast." I'm not one to confuse casting and fishing, but I will point out that good casting makes a difference. Yes, I was fishless for the evening, but I was tangle free, slept like a baby - no lagging aggravated frustration tangles can cause. I highly recommend good casting...take lessons & practice.

At the end of our second day fishing Silver Creek, it was getting late. We broke with tradition and beat it to the nearest [comfortable] cheap hotel (1+ hour drive), a [satisfactory] steakhouse before closing time (we walked in the door at 10:50 PM, closing time 11:00 PM - phew!), with a nearby early morning [decent] cup of joe. We lucked out in Twin Falls, Idaho - Snake River country.

We did our customary fishing, hardly taking any pictures. We caught fish, missed more than we caught and brought no monster to hand, though Donna had 1 hawg long distance release (LDR).

I hope our picture taking negligence encourages you to experience Silver Creek for yourself.

© Marian Tallon, September 2012