Several years ago I was shopping for tying materials
in a McCall, Idaho fly shop, when I met a fisherman
from New Jersey who was spending a week in the area.
He owned a time-share contract that allowed him to
travel to various areas which had condominiums in
He asked me where the "famous" blue-ribbon streams were
located around McCall? When I told him western Idaho
was noted more for lake fishing than for stream fishing,
he seemed surprised. "I was informed by officials of
the time-share company," he told me, "that I could fish
some really great trout streams in the area. They mentioned
Silver Creek and the Henry's Fork. I'm not really
interested in spending time fishing lakes. Too boring."
When I told the New Jersey angler how many hours it
would take to reach those two blue-ribbon trout streams
(5 hours to Silver Creek, 9 hours to the Henry's Fork
of the Snake), he seemed a little confused.
"But they are in Idaho, aren't they?"
I gave him a quick geography lesson. I explained to him
that border to border in Idaho covers a lot more territory
than border to border in New Jersey.
Since I spend the bulk of my time fishing lakes and reservoirs,
I couldn't resist the challenge. I arranged to meet the
angler at one of the local trout lakes that evening. I
loaned him a float tube, waders, fins, and all of the
other equipment he needed, and gave him a quick stillwater
fly fishing lesson.
While the fishing wasn't red hot, my new friend hooked
and landed eight rainbow trout, including a couple that
pushed 3-pounds. When we finished the evenings fishing,
the New Jersey angler shook my hand, enthusiastically
telling me he'd just had one of the best evenings of trout
fishing of his entire life. He said he had a new opinion
of trout fishing in lakes.
The next winter he called me from New Jersey and asked
me where he could find the best float tube fishing in
Idaho and Montana. The guy was really hooked on float
tube fly fishing.
For years I've tried to explain my passion for fishing
stillwater. I've written hundreds of newspaper columns,
and seven books, trying to explain why I spend so much
time casting my flies from a float tube, in water my
friend from New Jersey once called "boring."
For those who haven't read my material, I'll run through
my reasoning process one more time.
The number one reason most of us fish lakes, is that the
fish are usually larger. Although I do occasionally fish
streams that yield trophy sized trout, the fish I catch
in my favorite float tube lakes usually average much
larger (often two or three times larger). I've fished
lakes in northern Montana where the rainbows and browns
average more than four pounds, eight-pound trout are
taken daily, and every now and then a 12- or 15-pounder
shows up. Bob Sheedy writes about such sized trout in
his home waters of Manitoba.
There are few trout streams in the world that will compete
with the lakes in western Manitoba and on Montana's Blackfeet
Indian Reservation when it comes to producing trophy
rainbow and brown trout in that size range. Idaho's
legendary Henry's Lake has been popular with trophy
trout fishermen for 5 or 6 decades. Nearby Island
Park Reservoir turned out 24- to 32-inch rainbows
last year and should do the same this season.
Another reason many of us like to fish lakes, is that
most other fly fishermen seem to prefer moving water
over stillwater (as my friend from New Jersey did at
one time). If everyone who fly fishes were as devoted
to fishing lakes as some of us are, there wouldn't
be elbow room on any of the open-to-the-public-without-a-fee
trophy trout lakes.
Another major advantage of fishing lakes from a float
tube is the low cost of the equipment. With the advent
of the float tube, lake and reservoir fly fishermen
who prefer not to invest in expensive boats, can find
quality sport without going to the bank for help.
I sold my trolling boat about the time I began float
tubing - more than 35 years ago. Since then I've float
tubed hundreds of trout, bluegill and bass lakes, in
most of the intermountain area, as well as the Pacific
Northwest. With some rare exceptions, I seldom miss
my old powerboat.
Fishing in trout lakes and reservoirs can often be more
challenging than in moving water. Although hardcore
stream fishing enthusiasts may disagree with my opinions,
I find it is usually easier to figure out what stream fish
are dining on, than what is happening 10 or 20 feet below
a lake's surface.
While experienced lake fishermen can read stillwater
almost as well as good stream fishermen can read moving
water, there are certainly fewer sign posts to guide them.
Although moving water advocates will usually argue that
stream trout fight harder than their lake cousins, I
respectfully disagree. While a fish in moving water must
often fight swift currents as well as the rod, a big fish
hooked in stillwater struggles only against the angler.
A final advantage of fishing lakes (particularly from a
float tube) involves the physical condition of the angler
(or more precisely - the age). As the years go by, and I
find wading a difficult trout stream more demanding, I
find tremendous enjoyment in launching my float tube and
spending time on my favorite lake or reservoir. I expect
to be doing so when Willard Scott celebrates my 100th
Given a choice between my finest day on a great
trout stream, or my best day on a favorite lake,
and I'll nearly always choose the lake. ~ Marv
You can reach Marv by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: 208-322-5760. More on
Marv next week!