As an angler, there’s no better feeling than arriving at a new fishing hole and instantly knowing it’s a good one. Certain spots have that fishy feel a seasoned fisherman or woman can pick out right away.
I recently had that experience on the Big Wood River south of Ketchum. My travels took me past a stretch of river I had never fished before, so I tossed an ultralight rod and some trout gear in the trunk. I didn’t have much time, so I made myself a promise — I would only fish two holes.
As I approached my first spot, I stopped on a high ridge to survey the landscape. Right away, I spotted a deep river bend that looked promising. But by the time I got down to the water, two fly fishermen had beaten me to the punch. Undeterred, I fished downstream and picked up two small brown trout on a Panther Martin spinner. After about 20 minutes, my neighbors moved on— and I moved in. I hadn’t seen them catch anything, but I knew there had to be a nice trout or two hanging out in such prime habitat.
Playing a hunch, I tied on a soft plastic swimbait usually reserved for bass fishing. Big brown trout, in particular, love to munch on minnows, so it seemed like a solid choice.
I flung my first cast into the deepest part of the channel and began a herky-jerky retrieve. WHAM!! A big trout hammered my lure and launched itself two feet out of the water, peeling line off my ultralight with an audible zing. I survived two more jumps and another long run before finally gaining some line back. As the fish came closer, I was surprised to see not a brown, but an athletic rainbow trout about 17 inches long. This was definitely a wild fish — the huge, white-tipped fins are a dead giveaway — so I snapped a quick photo and watched it swim back to the depths.
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Fishing hole No. 1 was a success!
Short on time, I ventured a few miles downstream in search of my next stop. As I came around a corner, I stumbled upon one of the best-looking trout holes I have ever seen. The water — shin-high for 100 yards in either direction — tumbled off into a 10-foot-deep pool the size of a large living room. You simply couldn’t draw up a better home for a trout.
Keeping a low profile to avoid spooking the fish, I tied on a floating Rapala. Once again, it took just one cast to hook up, and a feisty brown trout blasted the lure seconds after it touched the water — and before I had even begun my retrieve!
After landing and releasing the 14-inch brown, I picked up a beautiful rainbow on a spinner and another nice brown on a Rapala. Fishing hole No. 2 was even better than my first stop, and as much as I wanted to keep on fishing, it was time to call it a day and resume my travels.
Located just over an hour north of Twin Falls, the Big Wood River is a gem, offering serenity, awesome trout fishing and ideal flows for a fall walk-and-wade trip. I definitely recommend it — and if you find a spot that feels extra fishy, make sure you tie good knots. Tight lines!