“What a severe yet master artist old Winter is…. No longer the canvas and the pigments, but the marble and the chisel.” -John Burroughs
The light in winter is a challenge for the fly fisher. Shorter days and the low angle of the sun create tough light conditions with heavy glare making it difficult to read the water, see the fly, and detect a strike. And on cloudy, snowy days, the low light problem is magnified. Dark lenses worn in summer or on the slopes can make the day look like night. The solution is simple: Smith Optics Low Light Ignitors. These lenses can save the day. They allow the angler to see contrast in low light and still protect an anglers eyes from hooks flying through the air. It is best to view the art of old Winter through the proper lens.
With the mild weather of late, the fishing has been quite good in the Nature Conservancy between one and four in the afternoon and there are still a few days left to take advantage. Fishing the Conservancy November; however, the BLM stretch of the Creek will remain open until the end of February. If the mild weather persists into December, fishing the BLM water can be a nice diversion. While you may find a few fish rising to midge emergers, nymphing dry dropper style or with an indicator will be most effective. Try size 24-16 Pheasant Tails nymphs or olive and red Zebra Midge. Swinging black and olive leech patterns (Barr’s Bouface streamer) deep and slow can also be productive.
Keep in mind, the best fishing in the winter on the Wood is downstream of the Warm Springs confluence through the catch and release water to the East Fork Bridge. While the Valley floor has received some snow, most all the accesses are still open for parking. Since we are still a couple of months away from the prolific winter Midge, nymphing is going to be the most productive method. The key to success is finding the right depth as winter fish tend to hold in the deep, slow runs. The best methods are standard dry dropper, indicator with two nymphs, or a Euro style rigs. For nymphs try Rubber Leg Stones, King Prince Nymphs, Zebra Midge, Bishop’s Dynamite, Egan’s Frenchy, the Red Dart or the Iron Lotus.
THE BIG LOST BELOW MACKAY
This is a terrific winter fishery and worth the trip. This time of year Trail Creek Pass is closed and the trip from Ketchum to Carey, Arco, and up to Mackay takes about 2 hours. Leave town around 9 and start fishing at 11. After 5 hours of solid fishing, come on home. If you make the trip, expect a lot of midge activity and bring a good assortment of Zebra Midge, Brassies, and other attractor nymphs like Rainbow Warriors or Bishop’s Dynamite in size 16 to 22. Fine tippet and a stealth approach will up your catch rate.
THE SOUTH FORK OF THE BOISE
If you head to the South Fork be sure to take a standard winter survival kit in the car including chains, a sleeping bag, and plenty of water and food. The road can be nasty and the weather in Idaho is unpredictable. There is a decent dry fly window during the warmest time of the day when the sun is above the rim. Still, nymphing, Euro Style or with a Dry Dropper, is the most productive for trout and whitefish when you see no surface feeding fish. For nymphs try small Baetis nymph patterns (18-20), Zebra Midge (18-22), Caddis Larva (12-14), Stone Fly patterns (10-12), or San Juan Worms.
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WATER FLOWS – NOVEMBER 26TH
The Big Lost
South Fork of the Boise