American Fly Fishing

Gold in the Pioneer Mountains
By Christian Nafzger

Baptie Lake,Idaho

A morning paddle to rising golden trout on Baptie Lake will quickly make you forget the arduous hike into this special corner of Idaho. ALL PHOTOS BY CHRISTIAN NAFZGER

  As I made a left turn from my neighborhood, I crossed the first of many fantastic fisheries on the way to my destination. The urban Boise River, home to wild redband rainbow trout and a few hefty brown trout, was in the rearview mirror within minutes. Next up: the turn to the revered South Fork Boise River.

An hour into the journey, my buddy Dave questioned why we had not settled for the South Fork Boise. Instead of more hours of driving, we could be casting hoppers to willing fish in short order. August is prime time on this tailwater river, and it seemed foolhardy to drive past big native rainbows. When we reached the intersection of US Highway 20 and State Route 75, we had two solid options: keep going eastward to the oasis that is Silver Creek, and its finicky, educated trout. Or, at the intersection, turn north, following the Big Wood River through the towns of Bellevue, Hailey, and Ketchum. A better duo of destination trout waters in such proximity would be hard to come by.

I flipped the blinker and turned toward Ketchum. SR 75 crossed the Big Wood several times, and Dave again asked why we were driving past all this great water.