“If a little madness be a necessary requisite to obtain the ultimate in the pleasure of angling– then O Lord, give me insanity!” ~ John Alden Knight
Winter fly fishing is not as crazy as it sounds. It should be on your short list of winter activities while visiting the Wood River Valley along with skiing on Baldy, snow shoeing around Galena, ice skating at the Lodge, and sleigh riding to Trail Creek Cabin. In fact, you would be crazy not to fish the Wood while it is all tricked out in its winter splendor.
The Nature Conservancy stretch of Silver Creek to the Highway bridge is closed but will reopen the last weekend in May; however, the Willows and the Point of Rocks stretch of the Creek will remain open until the end of February. The Creek is relatively ice free and fishing deep and slow with buggers and nymphs can be productive. You may also find some fish up feeding on midge in the afternoon. A brassie fished just in the surface film on a long leader to 6X is a good tactic to fool these technical trout.
THE BIG WOOD
Winter fishing on the Wood is spectacular! The snow is deep along the banks and access can be tricky, but once in the water it is easy to move about. The Winter Midge continue to gain momentum, and should get stronger as we head into February. This time of year, the trout begin to feed voraciously as they fatten up for the spring spawn. Focus your fishing efforts below the Warm Springs confluence to just below the Catch and Release Bridge south of town. Look for classic winter holding water during the afternoon hours and you are sure to find fish feeding on all stages of Winter Midge. Your fly selection can be very simple this time of year. For dries, have a selection of trailing shuck midge, Griffiths Gnats, and high vis parachute midge patterns in size 18- 24. For nymphs, try Rubber Leg Stones, King Prince Nymphs, Zebra Midge, Bishop’s Dynamite, Egan’s Frenchy, the Red Dart, or the Iron Lotus. If no surface activity can be found, be prepared to fish dry dropper, Euro style, or with an indicator.
SOUTH FORK OF THE BOISE
The road in and out can be tricky this time of year. The canyon rim has received a rain snow mix all week. Be prepared for slick conditions, and always go with a 4×4 and a set of chains. As for the fishing, the window is short down in the canyon, but you can expect
your typical winter fare of midge and a smattering of BWO. As the days get longer in February and March this fishery really gets good again.
BIG LOST BELOW MACKAY
The flows are holding steady at 100 CFS and should remain at this level into March. During the warmest part of the day, good numbers of midge are hatching along with some BWO. 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 and fish dry dropper style through the shallows and slow buckets. Euro nymphing the deeper runs can also be effective. Keep in mind the water is low and clear, so approach the water with care and use long, light leaders and tippets for the best results.
South Fork of the Boise