Sun Valley has something to offer every outdoorsman – and now that Bald Mountain is open for skiing you can hit the slopes for some fresh groomers in the morning and then spend the afternoon casting for trout. What a delight! Temperatures over the next week or so are expected to be in the teens at night and in the thirties during the day, offering the determined angler some excellent opportunities to hook fish.
Big Wood River
The Big Wood River (198cfs) should offer decent fishing over the next couple of weeks. Midges will be the most prevalent on sunny days and Baetis will take the forefront on the cloudier days. Griffith’s Gnats, Renegades, Snowfly patterns, even male Trico imitations (size 20-24) will get the job done. Although emergences may offer somewhat limited numbers of insects, fish will look to the surface on warmer afternoons. For subsurface fishing, try Midge Pupae, Brassies, Flashback Pheasant Tails in sizes 18-24 and Cranefly Pupae in size 10-14. Continue covering large stretches of water to increase your odds of hooking up with a fish as you will find fish beginning to congregate in the deeper pools as their winter lethargy kicks in.
Midges and Baetis will also be the most abundant bug on the Creek, particularly in the afternoon. As always, a long leader (12-15 feet in length) and light tippet (6X), is the best tackle setup for these wily Rainbows and Browns. The downstream presentation gives the angler the best chance at fooling these fish and a slow wading approach increases your odds of presenting flies to unsuspecting trout. The Silver Creek Preserve is closed to fishing, but downstream from Highway 20 to the Picabo Bridge (with access points at Point of Rocks, The Willows (Silver Creek West) and Highway 20) will remain open until the end of February. Try wading down the middle of the Creek in the shallower sections and throw Woolly Buggers or streamers toward both banks. Cast to the left bank, almost onto the grass, and strip your pattern back toward you as it swings to the middle of the river. Take a step or two, change your focus to the right bank and repeat. By “walking the dog” downstream, large fish can be enticed to strike from their undercut lairs.
Big Lost River
The Lost (82 cfs) can fish very well during the winter months. Any of your favorite midge patterns will work on the surface and Blue Winged Olives (sizes 16-20) can also be productive during the warmer hours of the day. Underwater, use Midge Pupae, Brassies in copper and red (size 18-22) as well as mayfly nymphs such as Pheasant Tails or Prince Nymphs (sizes 16-20). Double nymph/pupae arrangements with the aid of a strike indicator can be a winning combination for hooking fish. Trail Creek Road is now closed so you will have to make the journey through Arco, but once you arrive at The Lost you will find a remarkable lack of anglers throughout the winter.
South Fork of the Boise
The South Fork of the Boise is flowing at 304cfs and will provide decent fishing with the abovementioned Baetis and Midge imitations. Underneath, in addition to your favorite midge nymphs, try throwing San Juan Worms, streamers, Woolly Buggers and Philo Betos. Fish are likely to congregate closer to the dam and in deeper pockets so you may wish to use splitshot in order to get your double nymph rigs down to the bottom of the river.
The Salmon will continue to fish slowly until the return of the Steelhead in March and April. But, if you are in the area and dying to fish, try large nymphs such as King Princes, Prince Nymphs, Stonefly Nymphs, Caddis Pupae (sizes 10-16) and streamers or Woolly Buggers. Whitefish make up the majority of fish being caught on this beautiful river but monster Bull Trout do lurk in the deeper holes and runs as well as the occasional Rainbow and Cutthroat.