In life and in love, all memories become one. And a river runs thought it. ~ Norman Maclean in A River Runs Through It
The setting sun turns the river golden. A fly fisherman stands calf deep in the sparkling water, rhythmically flicking his wrist, whipping the impossibly long line above the surface. He, or she, does this over and over again with patience, certitude and determination. It’s a beautiful, made-in-the-West sight brought to life in A River Runs Through It, Norman Maclean’s book about fly fishing and family that Robert Redford turned into a haunting movie.
It’s almost enough to turn a girl into a fly fisher. Well, not this girl. I love the outdoors but fishing of any sort is far beyond my getter-done mentality. Much to the chagrin of my husband Bob who has been catching all manner of finned things from salmon to mahi mahi to trout and would love to have me by his side in the process. So when he had the chance to take a fly fishing lesson, he jumped at it and, ever-curious, I went along for the ride.
We met our ROW Adventures guide Greg Gatti in Kingston, the little Silver Valley town 20 miles east of the Coeur d’Alene Resort, and drove to Steamboat launch on the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River. We were doing a drift boat lesson (a good choice for those with some fishing knowledge) and would float about eight miles down the river. You can also do a walk-and-wade lesson, which Greg recommends for beginners.
“Fishing is a chess game, a challenge,” Greg said. “Catch fish, don’t catch fish. It doesn’t matter, we’re on the water.”
Greg knows full well that the ultimate goal of a day of lessons is to actually catch fish, and in search of the ever-elusive rainbow and cutthroat, he deftly maneuvered the boat along the river from one possible sweet spot to another. He told us to watch for color changes in the river, converging currents, foam and bubbles, waterfalls and rapids that would lead to spots rainbow trout and cutthroat might be feeding.
His constant tips on casting used easy-to-understand images like “windshield wiper motion,” “think of the letter A,” and “chopping wood.” Bob stood silently in the front of the boat casting over and over, dutifully sweeping, chopping wood and lifting the line. I sat in the back, happy to relax and take in the scenery. Greg says ride-alongs are welcome and often they’ll get “hooked” on watching and want to cast a few times as well.
The North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River is an interesting jigsaw of wild mountain landscape and hodgepodge human settlements. In the early morning, all you can hear are red winged black birds and yellow finches chirping as they flit from tree to tree, the creak of the oars, water lapping against the boat and an occasional passing car on the road that parallels the river. Pink wild roses, purple lupine, white yarrow dot the river bank and rocky beaches. Civilization in the form of small cabins or single-wide motor homes has nestled in prime riverfront real estate. Still, the river is serene and peaceful.
I wondered, if you catch fish that are large enough to keep and you’re a visitor staying at the Resort, can you have it prepared in one of the restaurants? Definitely! The chefs at five-star Beverly’s or casual Dockside can create your fresh-caught meal in one of their standard preparations and add veggies, starch, rolls and butter. Potato crusted trout that you caught yourself, doesn’t that sound wonderful?
I was daydreaming about sharing a lovely trout dinner with Bob at one of the Resorts fine restaurants (or was I thinking about those golden boys fly fishing in the Redford movie?) when his slightly misguided cast snagged my hat.
“No need to hook your wife again,” Greg laughed. “You already caught her.”