Photo Credit: Arian Stevens
“In the entire circle of the year there are no days so delightful as those of a fine October.” —Alexander Smith
We have come full circle and paused on the tipping point of another winter. But October is more than a season we pass through on our way to another. October is the azure sky reflected on water, a blue so intense it defies imitation by words, paint, or lens. It must be seen, felt, experienced. There are no days so delightful as those spent fly fishing under an October sky.
The Creek is beautiful in the Fall! The water is frigid, so if you plan on tubing, wear lots of layers and bring a thermos full of coffee or tea. This is a good time to explore the walk and wade section and sight fish for sippers. Be prepared for lots of Baetis (size 20 and 22) as well as Mahogany Duns (size 16) and October Caddis. Terrestrials are still going to be a factor as well, especially when the wind blows. Watch for the cool, cloudy days because the fishing can be incredible. On these blustery days, fishing hoppers or ripping streamers can be fantastic and the Baetis will be prolific. FYI, if you find some early brown trout on redds, let them be and watch your step.
THE BIG WOOD
The Red Quills are starting to slow down, but the Fall Baetis (size 20) will continue to hatch throughout the month of October. To imitate this fly, try an olive Gulper Special with an orange post or any of the Harrop Baetis patterns in size 18 or 20. Also, nymphing continues to be outstanding. The best method is to fish a high floating dry, like an Parachute Ant, a hopper, or Red Quill, with a small Baetis nymph or Zebra midge (size 18) trailing behind. Target the shallow, dancing water at the head of runs and drift your dry dropper rig through the small depressions and behind any kind of structure. The fish are incredibly aggressive in this type of water and you should expect a strike the moment your flies touch. Remember, with the cool mornings and shorter days, the fishing has really been best from around noon until the sun leaves the water.
WARM SPRINGS & TRAIL CREEK
If you are looking for a quick side trip on streams with less flow than the Wood, these small streams offer great access and easy wading. There are plenty of stocked fish around the bridges and if you want to find some quality wild fish, just keep moving away from the easy road access. Expect to see hoppers, Hecubas, and caddis throughout the warmest part of day.
THE UPPER LOST
The cool mornings have shortened the fishing window to the afternoon, making this the perfect place to go after a leisurely brunch. Focus your attention on the “greenish” water; this is where you will find fish. Also, you may still find some Hecubas, known as the Western Red Quill, fluttering about. Even if you don’t, this is a good bug to search the water with as it is the last big bug of the season and the fish key on it, especially on cloudy days. You might also try ant patterns or hoppers. These fish love small and medium size nymphs such as red or black Zebra Midge, beaded Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns, or Bishop’s Dynamites as well.
THE LOST BELOW MACKAY
The flows have come down to 300 CFS; still a bit challenging to wade in some spots, but a good overall flow. In the mid to late afternoon, expect a few midge with good numbers of Fall Baetis. Keep your eyes on the seams and slow tailouts for fish sipping duns. With the low angle of light this time of year, the Baetis are very hard to see, so keep a keen eye on the water. For flies try Harrop’s Duns, Spinners, and Cripples in a size 22-24. Be stealthy and fish long leaders and fine tippet down to 6.5X or 7X. The nymphing has also been quite good. Try a single nymph with a heavy tungsten bead fished on a long leader Euro Style or a long Tenkara rod. Also, a simple dry dropper rig with a long leader on a traditional rod is effective for greater distance and delicate presentations for spooky fish. For nymphs have a variety of heavy beaded standards like PTs or Princes in size 14 to 16. Also have a good supply of micro nymphs like Zebra Midge and WD40s with silver, gold, and black beads in size 18 to 22.
This is a spectacular choice for late fall fishing both above and below the town of Stanley. Look for pull outs around the runs with decent holding water and you are sure to find fish. Floating the lower sections is still an option as well. Of course, it is frigid up here in the mornings so there is no need to start to early. You can really fish any technique that suits your fancy. For dries try Orange Stimulators, hoppers, ants, caddis, or other high floating easy to see attractors. For nymphs try small rubber legged stones, Bishop’s Dynamite, Rainbow Warriors, or any other beaded size 14 or 16 nymph. Olive, black and brown Buggers will take fish as well.
SOUTH FORK OF THE BOISE
With the river holding steady a 300 CFS, the fish tend to concentrate around the riffles and runs with decent depth. For bugs, you will find a few Crane flies around and a smattering of caddis, but in the late afternoon the Baetis are on the water. The warmer weather seemed to have stalled the good fall Baetis, but now that a cooler pattern has settled over the state, they should return. For flies, have the same collection of Baetis you would take to the Lost, the Creek, or the Wood. When all else fails, the nymphing will produce a ton of whitefish and some sensational trout. The best nymphs include small Zebra Midge, WD40s, or Rainbow Warriors or larger nymphs like rubber legged stones or caddis larva.
Lake Creek, Penny Lake, or Gaver’s Lagoon are great spots for a fall family fishing picnic. Whatever style of fishing you want to do, we are your headquarters. So drop on by before you take your family fishing and we will make sure you have the right gear to be successful.
South Fork of the Boise
The Big Wood