Rainbow Trout Caught With A Willow Switch Rod

Wildhorse Creek, Idaho

Bob Griswold, handsomest cowboy in the Sawtooth’s, cut a willow branch with a knife, tied on some line and a hook, placed a bright red salmon egg on the end of the hook and let Livia drop it in Wildhorse Creek, in a pool close to the bank.  She pulled out three trout.  Bob made a campfire and set up a cast iron pan at the edge of it, on some rocks.  Livia, bitten, went back with her willow switch rod to catch another and she did, immediately.  Alone, she wasn’t sure what to do with the fish as it flopped about on the bank.  Another friend, Matt, showed her what to do, and then gave a lesson in gutting the fish.  Livia cleaned her own.  Others caught a river char, and Leandro McPhee, on his tenth birthday, caught the longest trout of all.  On a sunny bank of a creek in a valley of the Sawtooth’s, we ate butter fried fish with lemon.  I thought of my grandmother 100 years ago, a six year old, in Montana, in the wilderness, fishing with nothing more than a switch, catching dinner for her mother and little sister — in what was then, for them, with no money and little food, something of a necessity.

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9 thoughts on “Rainbow Trout Caught With A Willow Switch Rod

  1. Magical… I Had a similar experience shared with my daughter Fiona in a little cove on Somes Sound Fjord in Mount Desert island Maine a few years back.. She caught her first mackerel by hand line and marveled at it’s iridescent tiger striping and torpedo shape. We let that one go by her request but I made sure there was a few sizzling come morning in butter and maple syrup. Thank you Martha for the many delightful escapes through your Notes From Martha site. Truly a fresh oyster in a sea of frozen fish sticks.

    Warmest regards,

  2. What a thrill for the kids. Looks like a great spot. Do you know how Grammy and Aunt Pat’s mother ended up in Montana — when their father was in Bowling Green, Ohio. Seem to remember her name was Katherine and that she lived in Lame Deer. Just read a novel about white women living with the Indians in Lame Elk, Montana and it got me to wondering.

    Glad you’re having a great vacation.

  3. It doesn’t get much better. Wish Mila could’ve joined Livia – she caught a bass on her first try a few years ago, but using a traditional rod. Time to try the willow switch!

    Miss you but love knowing that you’re happy and enjoying nature and family.

    1. I miss you too! Come with us next summer. It is gorgeous here. Last night, a symphony; tonight, a rodeo.

  4. Not to throw a damper on things, because I think this is a great story, but I hope you didn’t eat the char (Bull Trout) as they are protected in Idaho and must be released immediately back into the water.


    1. Anything that was needed to be released was released. We were traveling with fish scientists from the state who would never do anything wrong. Thanks for your concern. It is VERY important.

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