I wanted to explore the Copper Basin in Idaho for reasons unrelated to fishing, but I was curious what the rivers held, too. Whitefish are the only native salmonid in this drainage, because the "Big Lost" river gets its name by disappearing into the porous volcanic formations around Craters of the Moon National Monument, remaining disconnected from the rest of the Snake River drainage for a long time.
I started late in the morning fishing the upper East Fork Big Lost River. I caught six little cookie-cutter hatchery rainbows in a pretty piece of spring-fed water, then sampled and photographed bugs. I drove to fish lower on the East Fork Big Lost midday. I caught my first-ever Snake River Finespotted Cutthroat, about 11", and a 14" rainbow. I hooked a strong 17-incher in a picture-perfect hatch-matching scenario, as the fish sipped size 24-ish Baetidae
duns along a dark cut bank on an otherwise bright, attractor
-fly kind of day. I fought it for 3–4 minutes before the hook came loose.
After that, i drove to check out the North Fork Big Lost River. I caught two more finespots and a 9-inch brookie in pretty water that didn't have a high number of fish.
The next stop was Star Hope Creek, mostly because I like the name. I drove way far up a very narrow two-track road, found a place I could get off the road far enough to park, and went to fish. The creek was so small I could easily hop across it almost anywhere, and it was comically packed with stocked cutthroat. There was no need to read the water, because there was almost no water without fish, even in the most ridiculous places. It seems I stumbled into a spot just below a natural upstream migration barrier, a large beaver dam, above which there were just a few wild brookies and no stocked cutts. There was a heavy hatch of Cinygmula
mayflies in the evening.