Category: Fresh Water Fly Fishing


Stop Teton Dam

While the rest of the country is spending time and money looking for ways to remove dams and allow native fish to swim freely, Idaho is considering rebuilding a dam that has already failed.  What a joke……

The Teton Dam, a federally built earthen dam on the Teton River in southeastern Idaho, collapsed during its first filling on June 5, 1976. The largest dam disaster in US History, it resulted in the deaths of 11 people and 13,000 head of cattle. Total damage estimates have ranged up to $2 billion. However, now rebuilding of the Teton Dam is being revisited. Over $400,000 has been dedicated by the state of Idaho to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of rebuilding the dam.

To rebuild the new dam it would roughly cost a billion dollars, and would wipe out one of the most amazing places, fisheries etc. in the lower 48 again what a joke…….

Putting a boat in upper Teton Canyon

Watch the movie that TU did recently on the Teton Canyon to learn more

But maybe I should be looking at the bright side, if they do rebuild the dam  maybe we can get a pile of good meth, some jet skis, and maybe even some high speed intoxicated boat crashes on the new reservoir.

Here is a recent article from the Rexburg Standard Journal…..

Water study to look at more than rebuilding Teton Dam

April 28, 2010
Rexburg Standard Journal (ID)

Several stakeholders are supporting the broadened focus of a federal water supply study that will look at more than the Teton River and rebuilding the failed Teton Dam.

“We’re supportive of that,” Fremont Madison Irrigation Director Dale Swensen says of the broadened scope of the study.

Friends of the Teton River Executive Director Lyn Benjamin also praised the new scope of the study and the work of Trout Unlimited, American Rivers and Idaho Rivers United in encouraging the broader look at water supply issues in the Henry’s Fork basin.

“I recognize that farmers I work with need water, and they recognize that fish need water,” Benjamin says in an e-mail concerning the topic. “Hopefully we’re going to do some decent science and some economic science to support the decisions that get made.”

“We applaud the BOR for launching a more thorough study of our water options,” says Kim Goodman Trotter of Trout Unlimited. “We look forward to collaborating with all stakeholders to find the best solutions for Idaho.”

Initially, the Idaho Legislature appropriated $400,000, to be matched with an equal amount by the BOR to do the study that would look at feasibilities of rebuilding the dam that spectacularly failed in 1976.

Bureau of Reclamation Pacific Northwest Regional Activities Manager Robert Schattin explained last week at a Henry’s Fork Watershed Council meeting how the study was expanded to include the whole Henry’s Fork basin, including the Teton River.

The Henry’s Fork study will focus on conservation and changes in water management, as well as water storage alternatives.

Schattin, in a phone interview this week, says his agency was influenced by letters and conversations with Trout Unlimited and other groups interested in broadening the study, largely because the BOR itself was headed in that direction.

“I know they met with the regional director and submitted a letter to broaden the goals,” Schattin says. “That was the way the bureau was headed anyway.

“It will provide a good opportunity for more success,” he says of the widened study.

Swensen concurs. “We thought focusing solely on (studying the) rebuilding the Teton Dam – which we support – might eliminate other important water-supply alternatives,” he says. “The bureau is on the right track.”

“Aquifer recharge, conservation and optimization need to be in the mix for meeting our water supply needs,” Trotter says. “These could go a long way to meeting our water needs and at far less cost than a big dam.”

The other options could have the added benefit of preserving wild rivers, recreation opportunities and outdoors heritage, she says. “Teton Canyon is an amazing wild place that we need to save for future generations.”

Other funding, study

To accomplish the broader reach of the study, the state has pursued regional BOR funds through the Secure Water Act-Water SMART program with an application deadline of June 4, Schattin says.

With funding secured, the two-year water supply study will proceed with two working groups focused on two aspects.

The water supply/storage group will look at watershed hydrology and potential on-stream and off-stream storage sites using previous studies and expanding upon them. Both above-ground and aquifer storage will be considered.

The water conservation/optimization group will look at opportunities with the Fremont Madison Irrigation District for conservation and water management.

The objectives will be to help in future planning efforts and to provide specialized information that help in future decision-making at the state and local levels, the framework document for the study says. The framework also says the study results will identify opportunities for the development of the water supply, improvement of water management and sustaining environmental quality.

Trotter’s organization, Trout Unlimited, will continue to be involved as it has since it first opposed the original construction of the Teton Dam.

“Rebuilding Teton Dam is still an option that is being considered as part of the Henry’s Fork special water study, so we will be following this closely to ensure that other more reasonable options will be vetted as part of the study,” Trotter says.

“Teton Dam would be a huge, expensive boondoggle. A broader scope will ensure that eastern Idahoans get the best study of water supply options available.

“In this time of budget constraints, Idaho shouldn’t be spending a lot of money to study old ideas like the Teton Dam that several previous studies have found doesn’t make sense economically,” she says.

The BOR also has assigned a hydrologist to be a liaison with Rob Van Kirk of Humboldt University, according to Schattin.

Van Kirk and his university team are in the second year of a three-year Department of Agriculture-funded study looking at the relationships between surface and groundwater in the context of land use and development in the Henry’s Fork Basin.

The BOR has established a Web site that details the study. Schattin says information will be added to the site as it becomes available. The site is


INDIA – Wow……….

Where to start with this trip is a mystery as it could take weeks to tell all the stories from this month long exploratory trip from to India in 2006.  Might as well start with one of the highlights and then I will digress in other segments about getting skunked by the mighty Mahseer, HE-MAN 9000 beer, Calcutta, Catfish the size of small vehicles, fishing the gates of hell etc.  This tale was written by Clark Smyth, owner of Rock Creek Anglers, long time friend & traveling partner………

“After many unsuccessful days aboard the large canoe, and after explaining why the canoe was not working and what type of craft and location Mike and Clark were looking for, Benny convinced a local fisherman to borrow his small canoe (roughly 6 feet in length).  They also obtained a ten-foot mangrove branch that could be utilized to poll the small canoe.  On their last day on Havelock, Benny operated the larger motorized canoe, “the mother ship” which would tow the smaller boat to shallow mud flats only a couple of hours away.  During the run to the flats, Mike convinced Benny to hand-line troll with tarpon flies and Clark trolled with his fly rod.  Both techniques proved deadly and a large number of Giant Trevally were boated and subsequently either released or taken for table fare. Once arriving at the flats, Mike agreed to poll Clark in the small canoe.  Standing up was tricky due to the small size of the boat, but after a little practice Mike and Clark agreed they had a viable flats fishing vessel.  They had rigged a ten-weight rod with a crab fly.  In their first, and subsequently last, afternoon of viable fly-fishing with familiar techniques, Mike polled Clark to multiple shots at Giant Trevally, Bluefin Trevally and Triggerfish.

All fish that fervently ate whatever fly was put in front of them.  Amazed by the fishery and unsure of other species of fish in the area, the two anglers started seeing a few Giant Parrotfish, which grow up to 100 pounds.  Mike had told Clark about guides in the Seychelles targeting these fish however only a few were landed because they were strong, fast, spooky fish that usually wind up cutting the leader on coral outcroppings.  So, at the end of the day, the two sun-scorched anglers, tired from their balancing act on the small canoe, and satisfied with their days efforts, started polling back to the “mother ship.”   Having almost reached their destination, and in synchronized amazement, Mike and Clark saw a school of fish tailing fast across the flat.  The tails belonged to a number of 50-pound Giant Humpheaded Parrot Fish.  They were moving in a shoal of about thirty individuals, reminding both anglers of a large school of tailing Permit.
As Mike picked up the pace with the pole, he started shouting, “cast, cast!”  At about eighty-feet the fish were in range, some of them had their backs out of the water.  Clark placed the size 4/0 merkin tied to 40-pound fluorocarbon just in front of the shoal of tailing giants.  As Clark waited for the fly to reach the bottom, Mike again shouted “strip, strip!”  Immediately, the fly line raced out of Clark’s hand and simultaneously the small canoe jolted toward the school of fish nearly knocking both anglers out of the boat.  One of the giant fish had taken the fly.  Slowed by the resistance of the 10-weight, the colorful fish fought to keep up with the rest of the school.  Clark set the hook with all he could muster as he dropped to his knees for more stability.  The fish was pulling the small canoe fast enough that the small craft was taking on water.  Mike dropped the poll and began frantically bailing water as Clark gave the Parrot all the 10-weight could muster.  Both Mike and Clark were asking each other what they should do as the fish raced toward coral outcroppings and rock piles.  Soon the commotion turned to a nervous laughter and the two realized that Benny, in the nearby “mother ship” might be able to assist in landing the fish.  The giant who was only slightly smaller than the sinking boat to which it was tied was pulling the small canoe out to sea. Both Clark and Mike started bellowing for Benny to help.  However, Benny was fast asleep in the bottom of his dugout.  Realizing they were on their own, Mike again risked falling overboard and attempted to slow the canoe with the poll before the hooked fish dragged them to deeper water.  The fish was strong, powerful and very fast.  It appeared to be winning the battle as it made an effort to stay with the school, still tailing in the shallow water. Time and time again the fish tried to find shelter in the coral, but Clark, with the aid of Mike and the poll succeeded in keeping it in open water.  Clark lifted the rod as high as possible to avoid the leader from being cut. Finally, the fish succumbed to the angler and calmly floated next to the small canoe.  Blue-green in color and breathing heavily the Giant Parrot Fish had been landed.  Reaching down in an attempt to tail the tired fish, Clark inadvertently put a funny angle on the leader and the fly easily popped free of the hardened “beak” that Parrotfish use to break coral.  The fish slowly swam toward the bottom as Mike and Clark, both trembling, looked at each other and started to laugh.”

We never got a picture of this fish, we did however drink beer at this beach……


Time Forgot About Mongolia – Exploratory Trip

The word Exploratory in the fishing world often invokes wild dreams of record fish on every cast, a place where no man or women have ever stepped foot etc.  Not often does the word bring about the glass half emtpy sencario, although relaistically it should right, in the true exploratory sense?  Sometimes the fish just are not there, sometimes the weather does not copperate, sometimes the fish are just pissed off.

Last September, traveling with a good friend and client Tim Shanley, the glass was luckily overflowing.  Fortunate to now had floated around 200 miles of the Onon River with the folks from Mongolia River Outfitters, the Exploratory trip was a huge success.  The fishing seemed to get better with each new day into the trip, the last day we had 5 big taimen to the boat and serveral other lost.  While the violent take of a Taimen on a mouse or a streamer on a wet line will forever be eched in my mind, the trout fishing for lenok and amur trout is truly underrated.  1x, & size 6 black fat alberts all week, combined with eager trout, has to make this area one of the best trout fisheries on the planet.

Just the name of the country, Mongolia, makes one ponder time standing still, and it has.  Time forgot about Mongolia.