“With melted snow I boil fragrant tea.”
The snow keeps coming. As of February 6th, the Big Wood Basin is at 144% of average and the Little Wood and Big Lost are not far behind. While it is a bit too early to prognosticate about when our summer flows will be prime, one thing is certain… each flake is a promise that we will have plenty of water for the upcoming season! While we can anticipate a great summer season, we currently have two of the best winter fishing months to look forward to before closures and spring run-off. There is no time like the present to enjoy the “fragrant tea” of melted snow.
Silver Creek below Highway 20 is open until the end of the month. Now that the temperatures have warmed a bit, much of the ice has disappeared. When fishing, the best approach is to search for a sipping trout. Approach with caution and fish with a long leader and light tippet from above. If you find no fish feeding try fishing deep and slow with buggers and nymphs around the obvious buckets.
February is spectacular on the Wood! With the longer days and the milder day time temperatures, the winter midge activity will continue to gain momentum. The problem of course remains parking access due to all the snow on the Valley floor. Many of the typical parking areas simply are not plowed. But if you are willing to walk, you can find water that has not been pressured all winter. When you do hit the river, have a good assortment of midge patterns spanning every stage of this prolific insects life: trailing shuck midge, Griffith’s Gnats, and high vis parachute midge patterns in size 18-24. If no surface activity can be found, be prepared to fish dry dropper or Euro style. For nymphs, try Rubber Leg Stones, King Prince Nymphs, Zebra Midge, Bishop’s Dynamite, Egan’s Frenchy, the Red Dart, or the Iron Lotus. This is also a good time to swing a brown Woolly Bugger to imitate the Big Wood Sculpin.
THE BIG LOST – MACKAY
The flows are holding steady at 115 CFS and the fishing is very good. The trout on the Lost spawn earlier than the fish on the Wood and while we are not seeing any redds yet (and wont until March) these fish are feeding with abandon to gain the needed calories. The midge, along with a smattering of BWO, can be thick during the afternoon. For flies, bring a good assortment of Zebra Midge, Brassies, and other attractor nymphs like Rainbow Warriors or Bishop’s Dynamite in size 16 to 22.
SOUTH FORK OF THE BOISE
The recent warmer weather pattern has mostly brought rain to the South Fork Canyon leaving the roads mostly clear of ice, but muddy. Still, the snow line could drop with any passing storm, so be ready with chains and an emergency kit in your car if you go. The flows are at 300 CFS and should remain at this level until the river closes the end of March. Dries can be hit or miss, but those willing to dead drift a nymph or swing a streamer will be rewarded. For dries, standard Baetis and adult midge patterns work well. For nymphs, try small Baetis nymph patterns (18-20), Zebra Midge (18-22), Caddis Larva (12-14), Stone Fly patterns (10-12), or San Juan Worms.
South Fork of the Boise
The Big Lost