Don Allphin

Dave Allphin (left) and his son, Nate Allphin with a couple of lake trout caught from shore at Shoshone Lake in Yellowstone National Park.

In this column, I want to share a way to bulletproof your next adventure. I decided on this topic because while on Shoshone Lake, having the time of our lives with a group of family members, we met a group of anglers that had been there for several days, paddling from campsite to campsite around the lake. When asked how they enjoyed the fishing they responded, “We’ve only caught two fish all week.”

They were very disappointed in the fishing, while we were literally catching fish almost at will from start to finish. Why? Were we just lucky or was there something else at play?

Two of my sons, Don Jr. (from Herriman) and Chris (from Shelley, Idaho), began planning our trip to Shoshone before the end of 2018. They got in touch with the backcountry ranger station in Grant Village and made certain they understood when the rangers guessed that the snow would be melted (in the campsites) and when the ice would come of the massive lake in 2019.

Armed with that information, Don Jr. and Chris confirmed which lures might be best to use during the ice off period. The rangers assisted them by recommending several different spoon and lure options including Jake’s Spin-A-Lures, Kamlooper and Kastmaster spoons in various sizes and colors.

However, the two planners didn’t stop there. Following the fishing regulations for Yellowstone National Park, they made certain the suggested lures were available (in local tackle stores) and were able to be modified (made barbless) to ensure the group had access to the right tackle.

Finally, Don Jr. sent each of the invitees an email with a list of gear, clothing, and personal items needed for the trip along with suggestions for dry bags (waterproof storage bags) and other items necessary to lash the bags to our kayaks.

When the time came to actually go on the adventure, we literally followed the emailed instructions on where we were to meet, the time involved in having our kayaks checked for invasive species (in Idaho and in Yellowstone), and the time and cost involved in obtaining our fishing licenses, and AIS (invasive species inspection stickers) at the backcountry ranger station at Grant Village. Our instructions even included an opportunity (if weather permitted) to begin our kayaking adventure in the early afternoon on the day before our initial plan as long as our check-in at Grant Village moved along without delay.

As it turned out, we left Grant Village early in the afternoon on the day before our plan, arrived at Lewis Lake, packed our kayaks, made a last gear check and started across the lake early enough to ensure we arrived at our campsites before dark, even (as described in Part 1 of this story) with the high water levels that none of us, including the backcountry rangers anticipated.

Once at our campsites, the next phase of our preparations began. Early in the morning of the first day at Shoshone Lake, I figured out (by getting up early and testing the fishing conditions), how to catch both brown trout and lake trout from shore, within 50 yards of our camp. As each of group got up and came out to the shore, I helped them understand what lures to use, how and where to cast, and how to retrieve their lures in both deep and shallow water.

Later (on that first day), Nate Allphin (my nephew) said, “Once I got out here and stated fishing from the kayak, I just made the same retrieves as from shore and have caught fish as fast as I can cast.”

You too can bullet proof your next big adventure. Put in the time, do the research and follow through with each person involved. So, instead of spending your trip wishing and hoping for some fish for dinner (as did the other kayakers we encountered) you will have the literal time of your lives with family and friends in the great outdoors.

Don Allphin can be reached at don@donallphin.com

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