This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
October 10th, 2005

Fish-In Bonus Stuff

One of the neat things about traveling to a Fish-In is the little bonus stuff.

The Lochsa and Selway are both fantastically beautiful rivers. They join, right at the Three Rivers Resort, to form the Clearwater. The Clearwater becomes a huge river and has both Steelhead and Salmon runs. In fact, two years ago we watched as a salmon struggled in the Selway still headed upstream.

There are wild turkeys everywhere in the area including right in the campground. We saw whitetail deer in the campground too. No lack of wildlife, Ron Eagle Elk and Vickie saw two black bears up the Selway. Lots of berries, especially Elderberries for them to eat. JC came across some very fresh and colorful bear scat while exploring downstream.

I picked some wild Elderberries several years ago and made jelly and syrup from them. It took equal parts of sugar to the juice to be sweet enough to use.

On our last day up near the end of the road on the Selway we came across tons of really tiny frogs. These little guys were about an inch long or less, brownish green and very active. We didn't know who they were, so we did a search through our books when we got home. We think they are Chorus frogs, which are called that because of their spring courting behavior. Do you know the difference between frogs and toads? One has a smooth skin and one has lumps. (No, I'm not going to tell you, look it up.)

It is a very long drive to Lowell Idaho for us, from door to door about 10 hours. Usually a stop for lunch and one for gas as well. We stopped on the way back at a place in Colfax, Washington which we had visited before. It's located just where we make a turn so is convenient. It is an old drive-in which really isn't a drive-in any more, it was called Mom's last year and has changed hands. It is now Wells Steak and Seafood House. We were just going to pick up a couple of milk shakes to take with us, but the food being served at an adjoining table looked so good we just had to order. The food was very good - do try it if you are in the region. The milk shakes were so thick they lasted over 100 miles of driving back.

We saw something which really had us scratching our heads. We checked this one out in our books when we got home too - but even though we were quite sure of our description, it just didn't seem possible. So I sent an email to a fellow writer locally who does a bird column every week for the local newspaper.

I explained where we had seen one, then another large white heron-like bird in swampy areas near the road between Royal City and Vantage, Washington. Amazing as it seems, her reply was:

"Sounds like great white egrets. Just had a report of one from the Belfair area. We had two of these birds migrate through Kitsap County this spring - one near Seabeck and one on Bainbridge. Many thanks for the report."

These birds are native to a small region in Florida! How neat is that?

When we arrived at the resort on Monday, JC went down to the river (Lochsa) in front of the cabin and was turning over rocks to see what insects were around and which ones might produce a hatch. He gathered up several case caddis cases which were empty, and a small rock with a couple still attached. As the caddis pass into their final stage, they release themselves from the rocks they have been attached to and tumble in the stream until they emerge. We did notice a great number of empty cases in the very shallow water, so they either emerged there or their cases were carried there by the stream current.

JC took some of the cases and the rock to the cabin next door for Denny Conrad and the other guys to see. The next day, Denny was down in the water collecting another batch. In fact, he took some live ones home to raise them! Real life entomology class.

Here are the photos of the ones Denny collected.

Now, for the topper, the Fly of the Week this week is from Al and Gretchen Beatty's super new book Innovative Flies and Techniques, and it is a Case Caddis with the worm peeking out. By the way, the little legs are how the caddis gathers its food. They stick the legs/arms out of the case and grab the tiny food particles as they drift by.

Do some investigating on your favorite stream and see if you have these creatures. We have seem some in Michigan streams where the insect has used pine needles and sand to build the case. (In fact some think the pheasant tail caddis imitates that.) Obviously you need to match the case and insect to your local ones.

Caddis are a very important food source for all fish - and very prevalent across the world (the Brits call them Sedges.)

If you have an opportunity to attend a Fish-In, do it. You'll meet some really nice folks, swap all sorts of information, maybe improve your casting, eat too much, and have the chance to catch some fish. How can you improve on that? ~ DLB

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