The experience of time while fly fishing is somewhere between “a watched pot never boils” and “time flies when you are having fun.” A fishing day resembles a drama full of anticipation and uncertainty punctuated by moments of glory and devastation. As a result, time can seemingly stand still for the angler, the moments Norman Maclean refers to as “spots in time” or “eternity compressed into a moment.” And yet, time precipitously slips away while the angler is tending to the business of angling. Even though a fishing day is merely ephemeral, in the end, it is the moment to moment mindfulness that stays with the angler…and the knowledge that another fishing day is on the horizon.
The unsettled weather has been good for flows, but has made the hatches rather inconsistent. Fortunately for those who love fall fishing, the forecast is calling for more stable weather in the weeks to come. Here is what you can expect: the Callibaetis are done for the year leaving Baetis, midge, Mahogany Duns, and a smattering of October Caddis as the main fare. Of course, beetles are still taking the occasional fish. Keep in mind, the best fishing is in the late afternoons as the water temps rise and the bugs get active. When it is slow on top, small olive, brown, black, and red nymphs in size 16-20 have also been working fished dry dropper style or under an indicator. Remember, this is a great time to try a streamer pattern as well. One last note: if you find fish on redds, let them be.
Due to the rain, the flows on the Wood nearly doubled. The good news is it is already dropping and clearing. Fortunately, the days of the month long blow-outs have passed! As the flows return to normal, expect the Fall Baetis (size 18 and 20) to make a resurgence. To imitate this fly, an olive Gulper Special with an orange post or any of the Harrop Baetis patterns are a good choice. Also, with the higher flows, nymphing continues to be the most effective method. This is a good time to use some of the bigger bugs in your nymph box: Pat’s Rubber Legged Stone, San Juan Worms, Mops, King Princes, etc. The fish are certainly benefiting from the food that is being stirred up due to higher flows, and smart anglers can capitalize on this. Of course, you will still need a good assortment of nymphs size 16 and down.
THE UPPER LOST
The Pass is still clear at the moment even though there is a good amount of snow on the highest peaks. The cool overnight temps have reduced the fishing window to just a few hours in the late afternoon. The water has come up, like the Wood, but should drop quickly. As always, finding the fish is the name of the game on the Upper Lost, so cover a lot of likely water. For bugs, use attractor dries, hoppers, and ant patterns. Nymphing is also effective with small red or black Zebra Midge, beaded Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns, or Bishop’s Dynamites.
BIG LOST – MACKAY
The flows have dropped to 53 CFS. This flow is much lower than the normal winter flows and we are hopeful they will go up to around 100 CFS and stabilize. In the meanwhile, be stealthy as the fish are concentrated and spooky. Also, expect the fishing to be slow until the bugs get going in the afternoon. Once the fish start to feed, small nymphs and dries are effective. Have a range of Baetis patterns from size 20 to 24 and fish at least 6 or 6.5X tippet on a 9-foot to 12-foot leader. If you can’t find surface feeders, try fishing a dry dropper rig or Euro Nymphing. For nymphs, try small Baetis style nymphs (18-22), Zebra Midge, or attractor nymphs like the Rainbow Warrior, Iron Lotus, or Bishop’s Dynamite in size 16 and 18.
SOUTH FORK OF THE BOISE
The flows on the South Fork remain true at 306 CFS. In the afternoon you might find a mix of Baetis and midge hatching. Look for feeding fish in the seams and tailouts. There are still Crane Flies and October Caddis skittering about; skating either one of these flies can get a ferocious take. As always, nymphing will keep your rod bent on whitefish and the occasional trout.
Lake Creek, Penny Lake, and Gaver’s Lagoon still have some hold over stocked fish and are great places to help a youngster catch a fish with bait or have a fly fishing lesson. Whatever style of fishing you want to do, we are your headquarters, so drop on by and we will make sure you have the right gear to be successful.
South Fork of the Boise
The Big Lost