Venturing into the woods with an attempt to find a new fishing spot has many challenges, especially when you consider you have no idea what the water looks like, or if there are any fish. I will attempt to better prepare you for just that trip.
First, go to Mytopo.com. This is a free topographical map website that will help guide you to that new spot. Finding the fish, that is left up to you. Knowing where to look is very important. The first question you should ask yourself is how much time and energy do you and your fishing buddy have (never go into these areas without a friend) and can both of you make this type of strenuous trip? If the answer is no, then get a boat or select a much easier hike for your first backwoods adventure.
When I’m selecting a place to check out for the first time, I find a reservoir that has a year around discharge, preferably from the bottom of the dam as the water temperature will be colder.
Once you have located your impoundment, let mytopo.com guide you to prime waters. Do not access from the dam even if there is a road. Roads bring people and people take fish. Look for forest service roads and trail systems that can get you close to the river. Once you have found that spot, I can guarantee it will not be easy to get into, but if you have a plan and stick to it getting out will be easier. If you plan to go downhill from your vehicle, think again. You need to go up to start the day. If not you will be hiking up hill after a long day of scrambling boulders and fighting native fish. Always hike into your spot walking side hill with a slight up hill bias, even if it means walking twice as far. Fish up stream so when it is time to head back to your vehicle it will be a mostly downhill walk.
A GPS unit to mark your parked vehicle’s location as well as printing a hard copy of the topographical maps is a must. Be sure to place the maps in a plastic waterproof bag. If your GPS fails to link up to a satellite you will be glad you have the hard copy. Also take with you some bright colored ribbon or duct tape and tie it to a tree where you first met the river, as this will help you find your vehicle even in low light.
Tell a few different people where you plan to go and don‘t stray from the plan. If either you or your partner become injured and can not make the hike out, the non injured person needs to make the other comfortable and go get help. Keeping warm will be the largest battle, so give up as much of your clothing as possible and make a fire. Do not leave your food with the injured party as it will only attract bears.
Take a back up reel and as many flies/lures as you feel are necessary, but keep your pack as light as possible. You will also need food, water, and an extra pair of socks. Do not plan on taking fish away from the river as the fish will dry out by the time you get home. Take a camera instead, as the scenery will be incredible.
If it takes one hour to get to the river, it will take two hours to get out. Also consider how far up river you have fished and factor that in as well. You must leave the river with enough light to find your way to your car. Keep in mind that steep canyons with tall trees gets darker earlier than anywhere else. Take a head lamp just in case you have underestimated the time and distance you have traveled.
Your motto should be safety first. If the river pinches to a steep rock face either find a safe spot to cross the river or hike up and around. Do not scale the face. Falling 20 feet into a cold raging river is not the memory you want to take home.
Maps can help you to get into some very good non-pressured fishing spots, they can also get you into a lot of trouble as well. Be careful, use sound judgment but most of all if you are not in the best physical shape, this type of fishing trip may not be for you.