Over the past week, our local rivers have dropped significantly allowing for summer dry fly fishing to hit its stride. Locally, the Big Wood offers a veritable smorgasbord of mayflies, caddis and stoneflies while Silver Creek continues to fish well with Drakes and Callibaetis. The Upper Big Lost is coming on strong as the water levels drop while the Big Lost below Mackay Reservoir is at a more fishable level but still remains challenging for wading. The Salmon River is starting to come on as large stoneflies and an abundance of caddis and mayflies blanket the surface. The South Fork of the Boise is ripe with Salmonflies, caddis, mayflies and cicadas. In sum, dry fly fishing is at its most exciting and will remain so for the next few weeks in the Sun Valley area!
The Creek continues to fish well with Baetis (size 20-22) and PMDs (size 14-16) leading the charge in the mornings and afternoons. A few Green Drakes still flutter midday while the Blue Damsels (size 12) are prolific when the sun is at its highest. Look for significant Callibaetis emergences on the still water in the middle of the day which can make for exciting sight nymphing and dry fly action on Sullivan’s Slough or the Kilpatrick Pond. During the heat of the day, terrestrials such as Crow Beetles, Chernobyl Ants and Grasshoppers can elicit aggressive strikes near undercut banks. Evening fishing will also be productive on warm and sunny days as caddis and PMDs make for some exciting action.
Big Wood River
With lower levels and clearer water, the Big Wood has started fishing extremely well. Afternoon fishing is the highlight of the day as Green Drakes have become abundant along with with stoneflies such as the large Californicus (size 8-10), Lime Sally (size 16-18), and Yellow Sally (size 16). In addition to Green Drakes (size 10-12), other mayfly patterns such as PMDs (size 16-18), Pink Alberts (size 16) and Parachute Adams (size 10-18) can be thrown to rising trout with good success. Evening angling is also productive as PMDs and Caddis become more abundant.
Big Lost River System
The Upper Big Lost, which includes the West Fork, East Fork and North Fork as well as Wildhorse Creek, is beginning to fish better as the stream flow decreases. Although still higher than optimal, these alpine streams are coming into their own and will begin to be extremely productive over the next week as additional trout migrate back into these high altitude waters. Try attractor patterns such as Adams Wulffs (size 12-14), Royal Wulffs (size 12-14), Trudes and Stimulators (size 12-16) and any number of Caddis imitations. Gray Drakes can be prevalent this time of year in addition to a smattering of stoneflies in every color. This is an exceptional river system for beginner and experienced anglers alike and can make for a perfect “family day” of fly fishing. Just remember to bring your tire iron and jack as the road has recently been graded and will undoubtedly produce its fair share of flat tires.
The Big Lost River proper has been lowered to approximately 600 cfs which makes it possible to fish below the reservoir but wading will be challenging and the water a bit off-color. This is likely to be a consistent summer flow for the Lost as the reservoir remains nearly at capacity. Large nymphs such as Princes and Flashback Pheasant Tails (size 12-16) will turn fish while a Cranefly (size 10) skipped on the surface in a quartering-down presentation may bring large fish to the surface.
South Fork of the Boise
The South Fork of the Boise will offer very good fishing, but large crowds of anglers. Salmonflies are the main draw this time of year while Pink Alberts (size 16) and gray caddis (size 16) can also be good options. Though fishing to the banks is the most common approach for drift boaters, consider drifting your flies several feet off the bank as trout will have seen many imitations and may have moved out into the river channel to avoid continued disturbance.
The Salmon reached remarkably high runoff levels this year but has finally subsided to a very fishable level and trout have begun to rush the surface in search of Salmonflies, mayflies and caddis. The afternoons offer the most exciting action as the large stoneflies become prevalent around 1pm on the upper river between Stanley and Clayton. Look for PMDs (size 16) and large numbers of Gray Drakes (size 12) as well as other sailwings to appear earlier than the Salmonflies.