We all have our tried and true fishing holes, but there’s nothing better than the thrill of a new adventure. So, when my best buddy, Abe, flew in from Nebraska for Labor Day, it was time to roll out the red carpet — Idaho style.
I kicked around a few ideas before settling on one I’d never tried before — a raft trip down southern Idaho’s beautiful Snake River Canyon. With ideal flows and water temperatures, I had a hunch that bass fishing would be hot. It also happened that my buddy Bryce was looking for some practice before hitting the whitewater of Hells Canyon this fall, so he agreed to be our oar man.
With a captain and vessel secured, the trip came together swimmingly. Abe’s flight arrived mid-morning, and by noon, we launched in the early September heat.
Bryce started by rowing to slack water, finding his bearings and testing out a MacGyver-rigged fish finder suction-cupped to the side of the raft. I trolled a spinnerbait behind the boat and quickly picked up two bass, grinning at Abe as I tossed them back in the water.
“You’re back in Idaho, my man,” I chuckled. “I hope you’re ready to catch some fish!”
As we approached faster current, something big ran off with my spinnerbait. I didn’t want to oversell it — smallmouth bass are notorious for feeling bigger than they are — but I knew this was a nice fish. Sure enough, Abe netted a 17-inch beauty.
After successfully navigating our first set of rapids, Bryce pulled over and we fished the swifter current. Our fish count quickly hit double figures as bass continued to gobble my spinnerbait, while Abe and Bryce started racking up fish on swimbaits.
After 20 minutes, we hopped back in the raft and settled into a nice rhythm. At least one angler had a fish on most of the time, with numerous triple-ups and too many doubles to count. Soft plastic swimbaits were hot, but when I started to get low on them, I switched to a plastic crawdad and didn’t miss a beat.
As the river miles rolled by, we admired a nice buck, an otter, a breaching sturgeon and at least a dozen blue herons. We chugged frosty Gatorade, munched on beef jerky, reminisced about old fishing adventures and started planning our next one. There was no cellphone service and we didn’t see another soul on the river. It was, in a word, glorious.
At one point, Bryce challenged me to catch a topwater fish, so I tied on a hollow-bodied mouse. We delightedly watched a bass blow it up, let go, and then come back for the kill when I gave the lure a death twitch.
Moments later, Abe’s lure got crushed. I reached for the net as line hummed off his reel. The fish unleashed two spectacular jumps before joining us in the raft — another gorgeous 17-inch smallmouth.
We fished the afternoon away, with our final tally — marked by my ANGLR Bullseye — coming it at 113 bass. We enjoyed at least five times that many laughs, too. All it took was an afternoon on the Snake River with two great friends, a sturdy raft, some life jackets and a pocketful of swimbaits.
Come back to the Gem State soon, Abe! The bass are eagerly awaiting your return, and so am I.
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