“Winter bites with its teeth, or lashes with its tail.” – Montenegrin
You can easily tame the beast of winter with layering and preparation. A successful winter fly fishing outing begins with insulation. Start with a Patagonia Merino mid-weight bottom along with a pair of the SIMMS Guide pant for the bottom half. For the upper half, layer the First Lite Llano long sleeve crew under the Patagonia R1 pullover. Add a Patagonia Down Sweater and SST Jacket and you have the top covered. Accessorize with fingerless gloves, warm socks, and a proper hat to protect your extremities. If your toes are susceptible to cold, SIMMS G3 Guide Bootfoot waders are a must. As for preparation, always have a thermos full of hot coffee or chocolate, a flask full of whiskey, a snack, a change of clothes, a sleeping bag, a tank full of gas, a shovel, and a set of tire chains. Follow these simple steps, and winter’s chill will be all bark and no bite.
While the BLM stretch of the Creek remains open until the end of February, the upper reach through the Nature Conservancy section to the Highway 21 bridge closes the end of this month. The brown spawning activity is mostly complete, but the redds are still vulnerable, so watch your step. Even with the cold weather, the fish will continue to feed on the short and sometimes intense Baetis emergence during the late afternoon. When this occurs, try Baetis duns, cripples, and pincers tied by the House of Harrop in size 20-24. Nymphing dry dropper style with size 24-16 Pheasant Tails, Baetis nymphs, and olive and red Zebra Midge remains effective as well. Streamers will also be productive, as many of the fish are looking for a good meal as winter sets in.
This a great time for a solitary experience on the Wood. The winter crowds usually don’t show up until late December. The transition to a winter fishery is complete as the Fall Baetis has mostly run its course. Currently, it is all about midge. The fish can be found in concentrated numbers in the classic winter holding water. To be successful, move from access to access catching a few here and there during the afternoon hours. The best methods are the tried and true dry dropper or a Euro style rig. For nymphs try Rubber Leg Stones, King Prince Nymphs, Zebra Midge, Bishop’s Dynamite, Egan’s Frenchy, the Red Dart or the Iron Lotus. While cloudy, low pressure days are the best, any day is a good day to be
on the water.
THE BIG LOST BELOW MACKAY
Our days of driving over Trail Creek Pass are numbered. With snow in the forecast, it may become impassable any day. No worries. The drive to Carey, then Arco, and up to Mackay is quite scenic and only adds about 45 minutes. It is certainly worth the drive. The fishing will be best in the afternoon during the classic winter window, 1PM to 3 PM. There will be a few Baetis, but midge are the winter mainstay. The key to success is stealth during these low water winter conditions. Keep a low profile and cast a long light leader down to 6 or 6.5 X Trouthunter. Try a dry dropper rig or Euro Nymphing with small Baetis style nymphs (18-22) or Zebra Midge in olive, black, or red.
THE SOUTH FORK OF THE BOISE
The first half of November was excellent on the South Fork. In the early afternoon, Baetis have been hatching mixed with midge and quality fish have been looking to fatten up before winter settles in the canyon. The Arctic air settling over Idaho will certainly slow down the hatch activity; however, nymphing, Euro Style or with a Dry Dropper, should remain good 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. Remember, the dry fly opportunities are best when a low pressure front passes over the state. Of course, swinging large streamers will turn monster Bull Trout.
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WATER FLOWS – NOVEMBER 12TH
The Big Lost
South Fork of the Boise