“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”
– Henry David Thoreau
With winter came unimaginable amounts of snow to the mountains; with spring, record breaking flows to the rivers. And summer…it seemed way too short. Now fall has come and we can finally taste the fruit the other seasons have yielded. Now is the time to resign yourself to the influence of rivers; wade the waters, cast your fly, and rediscover why you love to fly fish.
If you head to the Nature Conservancy or Kilpatrick’s Pond in the afternoon, expect to find a few Baetis, Mahoganies, and a smattering of Callibaetis. In addition, you will see some October Caddis skittering across the surface. Depending on where you are, you will find fish keying on one or all of these insects. Of course, terrestrials are always a good bet when the wind blows, but the fish are getting leery of hoppers. Ants and beetles have been more productive. Also, small Baetis nymphs and Zebra nymphs in size 18 to 24 as well as Mahogany dun nymphs in size 16 are producing fish when all else fails. When nymphing, try patterns without beads or with black beads; flashy beads tend to put fish off on the bright days. Please keep in mind, the browns are in pre-spawn mode and we will begin to see fish on redds over the next several weeks. Please avoid the fish that are obviously spawning.
THE BIG WOOD
The next few weeks can be some of the season’s best on the Wood. The cottonwoods and willows have begun to turn and golden leaves will soon blanket the water every time the wind blows. In the meanwhile, the Fall Baetis are blanketing the water in the afternoon and are bringing some fantastic fish to the surface. With careful observation, anglers should spot multiple feeding trout in the very skinny water between runs. It is best to limit your casts and take a down stream drift with long, fine leaders. For flies, use your finest spring creek Baetis patterns, the same you would use on the Creek. In addition to the Baetis, Red Quills (Hecuba) are still hatching and when these are around, the fish seem to prefer them. As always, a small Zebra midge (black, red or olive) or Baetis nymph run as a dropper can be deadly.
WARM SPRINGS & TRAIL CREEK
With the Wood a tad on the high side, 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
With the weather turning warmer this week, this is a great location for an afternoon fishing excursion during these last pleasant days of fall. There really is no need to get up early and rush to the river, however. Instead, sleep in and then leisurely make your way up Trail Creek Pass. Focus on the main stem and hole hop around the river to your favorite spots. If you are unfamiliar with the river, find a stretch with a decent amount of holding water and structure. There are not a ton of fish per mile, but there are some quality fish. Terrestrials, like hoppers and ants, work really well this time of year. You can also effectively search the water by trailing a Zebra Midge, Bishop’s Dynamite, or Rainbow Warrior beneath your dry.
THE LOST BELOW MACKAY
There are a few lingering Tricos and Crane Flies, but the Baetis have really come on strong now that the weather has turned cooler. The most productive fishing is in the late afternoon once the hatch gets going. The flows are holding steady at 338 CFS making it hard to find surface activity, but if you search the soft seams and tailouts you will find fish up and feeding. These trout will not be easily fooled. You will need a long leader with light 6 to 7X tippet and spot-on, drag-free drifts. Your fly selection is also critical; Harrop’s Duns, Spinners, and Cripples in a size 22-24 are a must. Before and after the hatch, nymphing has been very good. A single nymph with a heavy tungsten bead fished on a long leader Euro Style on a long Tenkara rod is perfect for picking apart the shallow riffles and deep holes. 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.
The area around Stanley has been fishing very well both above and below town especially with the influx of new water from last week’s rain and snow. Some guides are still floating the river, but the walk and wade access is also very good. Your fishing strategy is simple: once the air temps warm up, find a good pull out along the river and seek water with a variety of depth and structure. You will find the fish concentrated around the runs with decent holding water. 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. The cool thing about the Salmon is you will have the opportunity to catch a rainbow, a cutthroat, a cutbow, a bull trout, and a whitefish.
SOUTH FORK OF THE BOISE
At 300, it is time to leave your boat at home; this is the time for wading. For bugs, you may find a few caddis and crane flies, but like the other rivers this time of year, Baetis are the main attraction. Have the same bugs you would take to the Lost, the Creek, or the Wood as these fish can be selective. As always, nymphing will produce a ton of whitefish and some sensational trout. The best nymphs include small Zebra Midge, WD40s, or Rainbow Warriors. Try trailing one behind a caddis larva, stonefly nymph, or San Juan Worm works really well fishing deep or dry dropper style.
Lake Creek, Penny Lake, or Gaver’s Lagoon are great spots for a 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