May 25th…the 2013 season opener is upon us! While Silver Creek will fish from day one, our local freestone rivers are in the midst of spring runoff. The weather gurus are calling for cooler temperatures over Memorial Weekend which will slow the runoff, but there is still a bit of high altitude snow yet to come down when warmer temperatures return and we should see the river levels spike again. Still, I expect we will see these streams really come into shape earlier this year. As early as mid June, Warm Springs should be very fishable and the Big Wood and Upper Big Lost will not be far behind. For those who like to fish around Stanley on the Salmon River, we should have a very good drift boat season starting in late June into July, with August getting a bit skinny for floating. The high altitude lakes around Stanley will open up earlier this year as well. Even the local tailwaters (like the Lost below Mackay, the Wood below Magic and the South Fork of the Boise) should have lower than average flows this year making them more accessible earlier than previous years. Combine the big bugs of spring, like the Salmon and Stone Fly as well as the the Brown and Green Drakes, with lower than average flows and we are heading for a great early dry fly season. So come on down to the shop and we will help you load your boxes and prep your tackle for the season ahead. And if you are feeling a bit rusty or would like to try fly fishing for the fist time, why not sign up for one of our Fly Fishing 101 classes. Better yet, by a Sage rod and you can attend the class for free!
With the other local rivers in runoff mode, the Creek is the best looking girl at the dance. If you go, expect to see some PMDs in size 16 and some Baetis in size 18 and 20. On warm days the bugs will come off mid morning into the early afternoon. On cooler days, don’t expect to see them until the late afternoon. Of course, the early season fish can be very gullible as compared to July and August, and many different techniques will fool these trout. Since the Chara and other aquatic vegetation has not yet filled the stream bottom, using streamers can be very effective as well as nymph fishing with pheasant tails and hares ears in size 12 -18, beaded or non beaded. I would even consider using beetles and ant patterns if no bugs are present and a good spring wind begins to blow. I would also anticipate some Green Drakes to be making an appearance in the upper Creek over the next couple of weeks. It is always a good idea to have this big bug in your arsenal. And the Brown Drake watch has begun. We typically expect to see Brown Drakes in the lower part of the Creek the first or second week of June. The air and water temps will determine the timing on this hatch, so stay tuned.
The Big Wood
The Wood is over 1,000 CFS and has been as high as 1,550 earlier this year. You can fish the river at this level with some success. If you can find a good side channel or some slow water you will find fish; however, attempting to wade this river at this level is a bad idea. If you do wear waders, be sure to keep your wading belt on, or better yet simply wet wade to avoid getting into a bad situation with the high flows. The simple fact is that most of your fishing at this water level can be done from the bank making wading unnecessary; you will only need to get your feet wet to safely land and release your fish. So if you do want to hole hop around the river during the early season, plan on throwing big nymphs like Rubber Leg Stones, Green Drake Nymphs, large beaded PTs, or Prince Nymphs. Streamers will also work well. Big drys, like Stimulators or Chubby Chernobyls may also bring a fish up. This time of year it is not a bad idea to fish with a 5 or 6 weight rod to help land fish in the heavy current and toss the big bugs around. Also there is no reason to use dainty tippet; 4 or 3x tippet is fine for both drys and nymphs.
Big Lost River
With the road now open over Trail Creek, it will be easy to access both the upper and lower portions of this river. The flows continue to rise below Mackay Reservoir. They have jumped again to about 450 CFS which is a difficult, but not impossible level to fish.
My guess is that this river will continue to rise, so if you plan to fish here, keep your eye on the Idaho River Flows page (use the link on our website). The upper Lost will follow the same pattern as the Wood. Expect to be able to fish the East and West Fork by the middle of June with it really coming into great shape in July. The Copper Basin portion of the Lost will be the first area to start looking for fishable water in the next few weeks.
South Fork of the Boise
With flows at 1600 CFS, the South Fork is going to be better for drift boats than wade fisherman when it opens. Many fish will still be on their redds, so please leave them be. This fishery will really begin to get good once the Salmon Fly hatch begins later in June, but if you go for the opener have an assortment of heavy rubber legged stone fly nymphs for the riffles and some big foamy drys for working the banks. Streamers might pick up a big Bull Trout as well.
Magic, Mackay or Duck Valley are good options right now whether you want to float tube, pontoon, our fish from a boat. Be sure to always have a safety whistle and a life jacket. And watch out for those high winds which can blow this time of year. In May and June, I like to pull Seal buggers and Pops buggers in black or olive off of a sinking line like a type 3 or 5 or suspend a team of nymphs off an indicator like Prince nymphs, Copper Johns, or classic Chironomids with a floating line. This also a good time to consider going to CJ Strike to chase carp or the Bruneau Sand Dunes for bass and bluegill. Whatever you decide to do, come on by the shop and we will hook you up with the best flies for your situation.
Many men go fishing their entire lives without knowing it is not fish they are after.~ Henry David Thoreau
photo by Terry Ring