Idaho may be best known for its famous potatoes, but it’s beans that are being spilled in author Chris Hunt’s recently-released book, Fly Fishing Idaho’s Secret Waters—or so one may think, based on the title alone. When I first heard that Hunt’s book was hitting the shelves my first thought was, “Sweet, he’s dishing out GPS coordinates.” My second thought was,”Oh, crap—sh#t is about to hit the fan!”
I’m lucky enough to fish Idaho a couple of times each year, but like many other visiting anglers I gravitate toward better-known rivers: after all, it’s not always feasible to do much prospecting when you’ve got only a few days at your disposal. In particular I love fishing the upper St. Joe and each time I’ve visited this gorgeous part of northern Idaho I’ve pondered the lesser-known backcountry streams—hidden gems that are tucked away, off the beaten path, in this part of the state (and elsewhere). I figured this new book would point me exactly where I need to go; maybe even tell me which rock to stand on. And so it was that I opened the book, hopeful the author had done all the legwork for me. After all, with a name like Hunt, certainly it was his job to track down the info and provide the goods. Conversely if you happen to be of the tight-lipped position that nobody should enjoy these resources other than yourself or maybe a scant few locals, you’re likely to cringe when you read the title.
The author breaks the state into 4 general regions: Eastern, Southern, Central and Northern Idaho. Despite offering some very good general information about several rivers and creeks and even some helpful information on where to find these reclusive waters in a Gazetteer, I was largely disappointed to discover that I will still have to do a lot of legwork should I seek them out. Finding these gems on a map is one thing; leaving the road and hiking a few miles to explore them is another. Most won’t go to the trouble and that alone should come as great reassurance to the territorial Idahoans who may not be quite as enthusiastic about having a few of their secret streams shared with the world. Furthermore, Idaho is home to an awful lot of river miles—clearly the author has only put a small dimple in the surface of all the water Idaho has to offer.
The author is a passionate conservationist—that comes across in his writing—and anyone who cares about a resource understands that rivers and fish need supporters. To keep these little gems of backcountry streams under lock and key would be a disservice to the waters themselves. If few people are aware of a particular hidden treasure, when that treasure needs advocacy who’s going to take up the fight? Those that care; those who have been there. By offering a glimpse at a few of Idaho’s “secret waters” the author is actually inviting readers to care.
Hunt writes real good and he weaves personal experiences and a bit of colorful history into his description of the backcountry streams mentioned in his book. This makes for a very enjoyable read and I found myself eagerly pouring over each chapter. At 128 pages I was left wanting more—not necessarily more insider information into the backcountry streams of Idaho—but more of the good stuff that makes this much more than just a ‘where and how-to fish’ guidebook. Like the state of Idaho itself, this book is a gem.