As many know I have the opportunity to guide the St. Joe River in Idaho this year. Today was my first day of certification on the river. Here in Idaho a guide must work for a licensed outfitter or obtain an outfitter permit and a permit for a open section of river. The stretch I will be learning and working on is from Avery to Mile Marker 16 I believe. I’ve only fished above Avery several years ago for a day. So this is all new to me.
The Yakima blew out and the weather was craptastic and I was at a loss to what to do with myself since the weather was crap for the bass lakes too. The Whitepine Outfitters Crew was floating Sunday and I decided to join my new outfitter crew and headed for the St. Joe.
I was given a drop pin and told to meet at 8:15 am at some take out near Caulder ID. I left Spokane at 4 am and made it to the meet point an hour early. I napped in the car and the crew showed up around 9 am. Literally meet on a door road outside a podunk town near the river. No cell service once I got out of St. Marie’s so I a little worried at first. But its guide time so nothing is ever on schedule. The days shenanigans were only just starting.
We met up, I got to meet a lot of new people, many I had been told about through stories from river peeps. I was first amazed and intrigued by the small tight knit community here, and how everyone knows everyone. I was greeted with open and welcoming arms by everyone today.
Then we all got turned around trying to follow our leader as he hauled ass out of view to the put in. We ended up passing each other a few times as we played tag with the three rigs and trailers all trying to end in the same place. We made it at about 10:30 am.
Then it was time to launch boats. The put in at The former Cutthroat Lodge was a bit of a doozy, dropping and sliding the boats down a rather steep bramble covered bank. Hog slid into the St. Joe like she was hungry to eat up the current.
Then we had some issues about where exactly we were taking out. And on the way to the take out, a few range boulder took out the passenger side front tire of our shuttle driver rig. We spent the better part of 45 minutes using three different jacks to put this donut on. Finally at the take out around 11:30 am.
We meet back up at the boats, everyone else has been waiting a while, and we finally are floating by 12:05 PM.
Its pissing rain, the water is up around 5 grand, and it’s got 15 inches of vis. Streamer water. We hook one on the streamer not to far in.
The tiger is big, swollen, legs floating down river bumping the boat, the brambles and submerged and the river is a slow powerful boil in most places. It’s beautiful and so much different than the Yak. We see BWOs and some MBs, we see feeders, but we are mostly talking about fishing philosophy, guiding, the river, and getting to know each other while sharing stories, beers, and herb.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been a part of a guide crew and after 1 day with this one, I already feel at home. These people up here are some of the nicest and most polite kind people I’ve met. They love the owner of the outfit and I was introduced to everyone as part of the crew. It was a great first impression, even with the shenanigans.
I’m so looking forward to this jeep guiding opportunity. This river is so far on the other end of the spectrum from the Yak. Freestone, big water, lots of bugs, and more westslope cutthroat then I could dream for. Plus, theres just 4 guides that work this stretch, and I am fortunate enough…somehow! To be one of them.
I cant wait to explore this river more, guide it, share it, and be able to finally guide more than just the Yakima…I will always love and guide the Yakima for as long as I am a guide…but this place…ya…I could lose myself here.
Day 2 tomorrow.