“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.”
– J.K. Rowling
Signs that autumn has overtaken the valley abound. Red Quills, the last big mayfly of the season, can be found up and down the Big Wood and Upper Big Lost. Baetis and Mahogany Duns alight the water during the afternoon on the Creek. And the trout are feeding with an innate knowledge that winter is soon to come. For anglers, fall is the season’s grand finale…nature saves the best for last!
Fall is a good time to fish the Creek. Most of the anglers have disappeared, and the cooler temperatures have triggered some great hatch activity. There are good numbers of Fall Baetis mixed with occasional Mahogany Duns and Callibaetis throughout the river during the most pleasant time of the day, late afternoon. No Creek fly box is complete without an array of Beatis duns, spinners, cripples, and nymphs. This applies for the Mahoganies as well. Once this bug makes an appearance, the fish really do seem to prefer it over any other bug on the water. As usual you should also have ants, beetles, and hoppers along with some streamers. Keep in mind, the water is really cool this time of year, so if you plan on tubing, dress with lots of layers.
THE BIG WOOD
The flows on the Wood have come up a bit from the rain but has stayed mostly clear, especially above Warm Springs. The cool weather has stimulated the hatches and the Fall Baetis and Red Quills (Hecuba) can be found throughout the system. Your Green Drake flies, Parachute Hare’s Ear, or even Para-hoppers in a size 12 will work as imitations for the Red Quill and even if you do not see them, the fish will be looking for them. For the Baetis, I recommend olive Gulper Specials with an orange high-vis post in a size 20 or Harrop’s Parachute Baetis. Nymping with a small size 16 or 18 Zebra Midge in red or black, a pheasant tail, Bishop’s Dynamite, or Rainbow Warrior behind a hopper is always a good idea.
WARM SPRINGS & TRAIL CREEK
If you prefer small stream fishing, then these two creeks should be just right. 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
Now that cooler temperatures are the norm, there is a short window when fishing is good on the Upper Lost. Go hit your favorite stretch on the main stem and you are sure to find some quality fish. Remember, the key is to stay mobile and search for fish. This time of year, Red Quills, hoppers, and ants work really well. For searching, try trailing Zebra Midge, Bishop’s Dynamite, or Rainbow Warrior beneath your dry.
THE LOST BELOW MACKAY
The Baetis hatches have been very strong, especially on cloudy days. Be sure to have the right flies to match this hatch: Harrops Baetis Spinners, duns and emergers in size 22 and 24. Also, since the fish have seen some pressure, use light tippets like Trouthunter 6, 6.5, or even 7X. Long leaders and delicate presentations are best. Don’t expect to see too many bugs early in the day. It is best to start around 11 AM and the bugs start to show up around 1 PM. Nymphing before and after the hatch will remain productive with beaded Pheasant Tail nymphs, Zebra midge, Rainbow Warriors, or Bishop’s Dynamites fished either Euro style or dry dropper.
There will be a dusting of snow on the Sawtooth Mountains as you are fishing in the Stanley area. In fact, it can be downright cold; a coating of frost on your windshield is very common in the mornings. Despite the cold morning temperatures, the fishing is very good in the afternoons. Find a good pull out along the river either above or below Stanley and focusing your attention on the riffles leading into the long runs with double nymph rigs and dry dropper rigs. 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.
SOUTH FORK OF THE BOISE
The flows are perfect for walk and wade trips… no need to drag the drift boat along. And the fish are revitalized now that the cooler weather has set in. Of course, they are still willing to take a well presented hopper during the warmest part of the day and this may even draw fish up when no bugs are seen. There is also a good chance you will see good numbers of Baetis and Flavs, although this can be rather run specific. As always, nymphing will produce a ton of whitefish and the occasional trout. A small tailwater nymph trailed behind a caddis larva, stonefly nymph, or San Juan Worm works really well.
Lake Creek, Penny Lake, or Gaver’s Lagoon have been stocked recently. 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