Being on a dude ranch isn’t just about horses. Wranglers work hard and you definitely need to have some experience to work with 100 plus horses. You need to work smart too. Being cautious of the occasional kick or ornery personality is part of the job. But that’s not the only job on the ranch with dangers.
Teaching kids how to fish for bass and northern pike with a 2/0 sized hook and 3/8 ounce weights in the tight confinements of a boat can get interesting fast. For those of you not familiar with the treachery here, it’s sort of like poking a coiled rattlesnake. Sooner or later it’s going to strike and boy when it happens, it sure does surprise you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that “wifffff” sound go screaming next to my ear as a cast is made. Or you look one direction, bend down to pick something up and the lure rolls slowly down your arm, pauses, then rockets back up your arm, past your collar, slams you in the hat, and out to the water. The 6 year old closes his bail, looks back and smiles intently with not a hint of knowing how close your ear was to being pierced by a 5 inch smoke colored bait.
Some kids LOVE to fish. You’ll never pull them away from it, even to eat. And when its finally time to head home it’s like pulling packing tape off of cardboard. Not pretty when it’s done. I was the same. Give me a rod, a creek, and a fly and you’ll never see or hear me until it gets dark. For me it was the challenge of trying to outwit a fish and hopefully catch a huge fish. I do remember fishing on the Middle Fork of the Salmon once and a beat up old salmon came darting after my fly. Hooked Jaw, almost black in color, and it was absolutely huge compared to the standard cutthroat trout I was chasing. I was fairly young and It frightened me. I try to keep that in mind while taking the kids out fishing for Northern Pike which can have the same affect.
There are the kids that aren’t too interested in the fishing part, just the catching. These are the tough ones. They’ll talk and talk and talk about whatever and everything that enters their head. They’re usually the ones telling a big long story while holding onto the rod and the tip is throbbing from a fish on the other end. It’s hard to keep focus for a younger child so I don’t mind the stories. I’ll usually grab the rod about a mid-way up, jerk it to set the hook and let the kids finish their story. These kids usually get so excited reeling the fish up that it comes flying out of the water and the net becomes a catcher’s mitt. There’s so much excited that the rod goes one way and they go towards the fish. An experienced guide reaches for the rod before it rolls out of the boat and, “kerplunk!” Or, a good guide will grab the line and hopefully fish the rod back up.
The final group of kids I see from time to time are the ones with absolutely no interest in fishing at all. They’re usually not at all excited about being dragged from bed to go fishing at 6 am. When we fit them for a life jacket and the older brother doesn’t have to wear one it’s possible the last straw may have been drawn. I take these kids on as a personal challenge. Mainly because I feel I’m part of the responsibility to show them how fun fishing can actually be. Most of the time it’s a success. They start to come out of their shell as we pull away from the dock and the jet boat fires up and planes off. That’s kind of fun but they try to not show a smile. I’ll show them one of those new imaging systems where you can see the fish and they start to show a little interest. Won’t quite start asking questions yet. Once they get the hang of the cast it’s only a matter of time until the first fish bites. They’ll hide the smile while reeling up their fish. Not long after that we usually can’t keep them quiet.
Now when you put two or three kids in the boat pandemonium begins. I’ve guided a few types of fishing trips and none are more challenging. It’s best to set a few ground rules and I tend to stress safe casting techniques most. I tend to like a longer rod to keep the hooks away from innocent bystanders during the casting process. I shy away from treble hooks religiously and try to mash down barbs. I’ve ended up wearing those too many times. Lastly, have the kids yell, “casting!” This is your last chance to get out of the way in case they wind up that extra little bit.
But even through all the dangers and occasional frustrations because the fish aren’t cooperating, I have to say taking the kids out fishing has been one of the better parts of being on a dude ranch. It’s like the rest of what kids get to do on the ranch. They feel a sense of freedom and accomplishment, especially when we throw those big fish photos up on the wall at the lodge. Sometimes I wonder if the stories would be better without the photos.
The lake fishing trips at Red Horse Mountain ranch are included in your stay, except for the daily fishing license which aren’t too bad. We handle all the gear and most trips are catch – photo – release. The foods much better at the lodge. Trips during your stay can be handled on your arrival so don’t worry about having to pre-book. We’ll make sure you get out on the water. More information about our trips can be seen on our website at, https://redhorsemountainranch.com/dude-ranch-adventures/fishing-on-the-ranch/ .
Idaho’s Red Horse Mountain Ranch
11077 East Blue Lake Road
Harrison, ID 83833