I’ve Been to Paradise: Snake River

We all remember songs from our childhood. For me, Charlene D’Angelo’s “I’ve Been to Paradise, But I’ve Never Been to Me,” is a song that instantly takes me back to my childhood in New York’s North Country. As I have grown older, the song’s lyrics and haunting message about lost opportunities has really resonated and prompted me to do what I can to enjoy life (and fish).

Thus, as soon as I knew my work schedule was going to take me to Idaho the week of August 20, 2023, I was determined to fish the South Fork of the Snake River, which many, me included, consider to be an angler’s paradise. I also was hopeful that one of my close friends, who lives in Idaho and lost his wife in December, would join me.

Before his retirement in 2011, my friend and I had spent eight years working together. Over the course of that time, we spent many hours traveling across Idaho but had never fished together. In fact, while he had grown up in a family with an outfitting business, he really had not fished in years until we fished the Snake River on August 24.

On that date, he picked me up at my hotel in Idaho Falls and we drove over to The Lodge at Palisades Creek. On the way there, we were blessed with a beautiful Idaho sunrise. The blessings did not end there.
We had a productive and fun day catching some nice cutthroat trout, rainbows, a brown, and a cutbow trout. However, it was the friendship and natural beauty that made this day truly memorable. A special thank you to guide Cole Sutheimer and Assistant Manager Shayde Stotts for all they did to make the day special.
We saw bald eagles and osprey and enjoyed a very rare sighting of four bull moose together. We had a nice golden retriever jump in the water and follow our boat until we successfully convinced him or her to head back to their home on shore. While I caught some nice fish, it seems like I lost more. What really made the day particularly meaningful for me was the fact that this was my friend’s first-time fishing after a very long hiatus from flyfishing and I saw him catch several nice cutthroats. Additionally, he said our experience has prompted to begin fishing again.
There definitely were fishing lessons learned or reinforced. I fished from the back of the drift boat, which is always challenging for me, and I will admit that it was a slow day for me until I fished from the front of the boat at the end of the day. When fishing from the back, it is so important to try to cast your line forward enough to get a decent drift while simultaneously working to avoid crossing the other person’s line in front of you. Conversely, when fishing from the front, it is particularly important to cast far enough downstream to provide you and the person in the back the ability to get good drifts.

Another reminder for me that day was that setting the hook is an eternal challenge. You will be too slow, too fast, too hard, and too soft. The good news is that the only way to get better at it is to go out and fish.
If you want to fish the South Fork of the Snake River, I encourage you to check out the team at the Palisades Lodge online at: tlapc.com/about/.

— By Mike Holland