September is a special time on our local fisheries. The morning air is crisp and anglers will want to don a light jacket to stave off the chill. By midday and into the afternoon, anglers will wish to shed their jacket and may consider wet wading one last time to stay comfortable during the warmest part of the day. A few yellow leaves can be seen floating in the current when the wind blows along with hoppers and flying ants. The small patches of yellow and red foliage will begin to spread as the fall colors lead to their peak over the next several weeks. It won’t be long before the browns of silver creek will be tricked in the same yellow and orange as they prepare for the spawn. The last crowds of summer have departed making it easier to find your own stretch of river and the shorter days and cooler temps have initiated the fall hatches and triggered more aggressive feeding for the trout. The season’s best angling is on the horizon.
The crowds are mostly gone on this fishery, as are the bugs of summer. Tricos, PMDs, and Damsels can still be found but not in significant numbers. It is hopper time! My best advice for a day on the Creek is as follows…sleep in and wait for the wind to blow. As the day heats up, hoppers start flying. All you need to make the fish throw caution aside is a light chop on the glassy surface of the Creek. Frankly, the harder the wind blows the better the hopper fishing can be. This a great chance to catch a giant Brown as they attempt to fatten up before the spawn later this fall. Also watch the weather forecast over the next few weeks; Cloudy ,calm days will trigger fantastic Baetis hatches. These Baetis are small and you will need patterns in size 20, 22, and 24 to match the hatch. For this bug, size is more important than color and fish should take any well presented fly. Also be prepared for some Mahogany Duns as they will make an appearance in the coming weeks. Some days are still producing great midday to late afternoon Callibaetis action. This bug is smaller than the early season Callibaetis, so you will need to have plenty of size 18 imitations in all phases of this insects life cycle (nymphs, emergers, duns and spinners). To find this bug, search the sloughs and slow water stretches of the upper and lower Kilpatrick’s Pond. The fly is easily identified by its rhythmic bouncing just above the water as it prepares to lay its eggs. On windy days, try a size 16 or 18 Hackle Stackers along with a Quigley Cripple or the Callibaetis Floating Nymph. When the water is still, try Harrop’s Partridge Spinner or Harrop’s Cutwing Dun in a size 18. This is a beautiful time on the Creek and the fishing should improve as we head into fall.
Big Wood River
If you are looking for consistent action, then the Wood is the right choice. This river has been fishing well all summer and is just getting better. There is no need to go early, but once the fishing gets started mid-morning it stays good all the way until the sun leaves the water in the evening. This time of year the fish really spread out and can be found in every part of a run. Aggressive feeders will be right in the aerated heads of the riffles. Sippers can be found on the slow edges and in the seams as well as at the tailouts and slicks. Approach the water carefully and scan the water for feeders in the shallows. These fish can be spooky and you will need to use caution. In the bad light of autumn, I recommend using small Gulper Specials (18) with orange posts which show up nicely in the glare and light chop of riffles. Red Quills have been spotted in the South Valley and should make their way up river. Terrestrials have also been a good bet, especially hoppers and flying ants. Trailing a small size 16 or 18 Zebra Midge in red or black, a pheasant tail, Bishop’s Dynamite, or Rainbow Warrior can also be effective during slow periods. Also, Euro Nymphing is a great way to turn those missed takes into hookups. For a twist, try Euro Nymphing with a Tenkara Rod!
Big Lost River below Mackay
Above the reservoir, the Kokanee are running and river fishing, though limited since the reservoir is still high, is like fishing in Alaska. Where you find groups of red fish clustered together, you may find a rainbow in the mix. Below the reservoir flows are around 330 and may continue to drop over the next few weeks. Check the Idaho River Flows link on our website to see current flows. The cooler temperatures have moved the bug activity to the late morning and through the middle of the day. The afternoons can be fair to slow. For bugs you can expect to find a smattering of Tricos with the Baetis becoming the main player over the next few weeks. If you go, be sure to have Crane Flies, Tricos ( size 22-24), Baetis (size 18-20) and an assortment of nymphs such as King Princes (size 12, 14), San Juan Worms, Flashback Pheasant Tails (size 14, 16), Bishop’s Dynamite (size 14, 16, 18), Zebra Midge (size 16,18) and Rainbow Warriors (size 16,18,20).
Upper Big Lost
Not much has changed on this fishery. The reports are still spotty, but the best action is happening on the Main Stem of the Upper Lost. The river is low and the fish are spread out. The fishing is best from the middle of the day into the late afternoon. Don’t expect to see too many bugs and be prepared to cover a lot of ground to find fish. The Whitefish are eager to eat a fly and a few quality Rainbows, Cutbows, Brook Trout, and Cutthroat can be found as well. As I said last week, if you are looking for huge numbers of trout, stick to the Wood, but if you want to search gorgeous water for that one fantastic trout, give this a try. These fish are opportunistic feeders and will usually go for an attractor dry fly, but they may only give you one shot. Take along an assortment of your favorite attractor dry flies and nymphs as well as your standard parachute patterns: Parachute Hare’s Ear, Turk’s Tarantulas, PMX, Royal Wulffs, King Prince, Flashback PTs and Zebra Midge.
With the recent road closures due to the fire, really the only part of the river that is accessible is the stretch from Four Acres to the town of Stanley. For flies, I still like Yellow and Orange Stimulators even though the Stones are long gone and attractors such as Turk’s Tarantula as well as Hoppers work great. Also, the Spruce Moth is still a major player and can provide excellent dry fly fishing. Nymphs, such as Tungsten PTs and Dynamites in size 16 tied of the back of these big bugs will also be good producers.
Warm Springs & Trail Creek
These rivers are low and provide a great alternative for those seeking a small stream experience but don’t have the time to drive over the hill to the Upper Lost. Fish and Game has stocked these rivers around the bridges and anywhere the rivers near the road. If you wish to seek wild fish, just leave the beaten path and explore. Expect to see rusty Spinner, Caddis, Ants, Hoppers, and some Spruce Moths.
South Fork of the Boise
Really nothing new to report here…flows are still holding steady at 1800 CFS and fishing from a drift boat remains the best option until the water drops later this month. The bug activity has been slow to get going with a smattering of Flavs and Pink Alberts hatching in the early afternoon. A few beatis are beginning to make their midday appearance as well, especially on cloudy days. Your best option is to search the water with hoppers and a trailing nymph unless you find a fish feeding selectively on one of the above mentioned mayflies. Also, deep nymphing with caddis larva, PTs, and zebra midge can be a good option when no bugs present. Euro Nymping the shallower riffles has been very effective on whitefish and trout. You might try ripping a streamer through some deeper runs in search of a Bull Trout or an aggressive Bow.
If you want to beat the summer heat, you might try hiking into one of our numerous Alpine Lakes. The midge hatches can be prolific and on windy days ants, beetles, and spruce moths will find their way on to the surface. Scan the edges for cruisers or look for fish congregated at the inlets and outlets. For an idea about where to go just inquire in our shop.
Everyone should believe in something. I believe I’ll go fishing.~ Thoreau
photo by Bryan Huskey