We are in our first real cold snap of the winter, which has followed our first real snow fall of the winter. The rivers are picture perfect settings for winter fishing, but you better be prepared for the temperatures. The fishing is quite good for a few hours everyday, as the fish have to eat no matter the temperature. Make sure your waders are free of leaks, have fingerless gloves, a stocking hat, a neck gator, thermal clothing and a windbreaker. The fishing remains primarily nymphing and streamer fishing, but with a huge lack of other anglers on the water the fish are responding well to small nymphs fished in slow water. Don’t forget, Silver Creek Outfitters continues to run our guide service throughout the winter months!
The Nature Conservancy water are CLOSED to fishing. Anglers that want to check out spring creek fishing in winter can still explore below the Highway 20 bridge – through the Willows and Point of Rocks. This fishing will pick up as we move later into winter, but right now there are still Brown Trout looking to fatten back up after the fall spawning season. These fish are very eager to take well placed streamer flies fished close to the bank. Fish your flies non-weighted on a tight line swing, about 2 to 4 inches under the surface and then watch for the boil of water when the fish strikes. This is as cool and fun as streamer fishing gets! Don’t forget to use a minimum of 3X tippet or even heavier. Leader shy is not an issue when streamer fishing. It is also a good idea to tie the fly on using a loop to allow the fly as much freedom of movement as possible.
Big Wood River
The Wood is the fishery of choice these days. Fishing is very good with small nymphs like Zebra Midges and size 20 Flashback Pheasant Tails. The fishing is limited to the middle of the day, from about 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Before and after the fish may be biting, but so is the cold! The fish are really concentrating into the winter holding water. Try to locate slow, but moving water that is at least knee deep or better, and fish to the softer side of the main currents. This means if you see the traditional foam line that you normally cast into, the water on the wider side of that line (between the foam line and the widest bank) is where the fish should be holding. Our fresh snow fall means it is now easy to see where other anglers have been, and where no one has been at all. The fishing pressure, now that skiing has started in at a minimum, so fish are getting a nice break and are eager to take what is offered up. By the time the temperatures warm up closer to the forty degree mark in a few weeks, we should start seeing fish rise to take the midges off the surface, for now though, don’t count on surface action with any consistency.
If the fishing becomes very, very slow, than it is time to think about fishing the Wood River Sculpin imitations. Philo Beto is a valley favorite and will draw strikes when absolutely nothing else is working. A single small split shot placed right above the eye of the hook is all the weight you need when fishing the slow winter water.
Keep in mind, when fishing in these colder than normal temperatures, to try and fish the softest rod you own to prevent rods from breaking under the strain of fighting fish. This means fish a Winston if you have one, and think about asking Santa for one if you don’t. They are great winter rods and will serve you well on Silver Creek during the main summer season. Keep in mind also, that you need to land the fish as quickly as you can in these cold conditions, and DO NOT take the fish out of the water. Use a Ketchum Release tool or some hemostats to dislodge your barbless hooks while the fish is still under the surface. Enjoy your solitude on the stream and enjoy fishing under the white of winter!
The Lost will fish well with nymphs in this tailwater, but driving the highway through Arco is the only access to the river. Call the Wagon Wheel, book a room and fish a couple of days to make the trip worth while. Try fishing Brassies, Prince Nymphs and Zug Bug.
South Fork of the Boise
Midges and infrequent Baetis hatches are the name of the game on the South Fork. Nymphing is the primary tactic with Midge patterns and Pheasant Tails being good choices. Fish shallow riffles and slow moving foam lines. The more structure like boulders you fish around the better.
Basin Precip. Averages
Salmon – 116%
Big Wood – 120%
Little Wood – 114%
Big Lost – 111%
Henry’s Fork – 135%