It was only a matter of days following the last report that most of our area rivers froze up to the point where they weren’t fishable. In fact I have not seen, nor spoke to one single person that has cast a line in the last two weeks! With the holidays upon us, our low pressure patterns have returned and temperatures are beginning to warm slightly. The ice is letting go in many places and one thing is for certain, when we get an end to these major cold snaps, the fish go crazy! If there was ever a time period to be on the water it is right about now. Keep your eyes on the temperatures during the daytime and if you see temps in the freezing range or higher, you are going to be in for one fantastic day of fly fishing.
The Nature Conservancy water are CLOSED to fishing. Anglers that want to check out spring creek fishing in winter can still explore below the Highway 20 bridge – through the Willows and Point of Rocks. The Creek below the Highway 20 bridge is open to fishing, but there has been major ice over on vast sections of the Creek in this area. The fish will be fine as they sit in the deep holes, and if we get a thaw and the ice breaks the fishing should be productive with streamers a few days after this. This area may be better left for a little bit later in the season, but if you have some snow shoes and a need to be alone for awhile it could be worth checking out if the ice is gone. If you’re in the area, stay off the ice, and keep pets off of it to. This is not like ice-over on a lake, the currents keep the ice thin and unpredictable, and one misstep could be big trouble. The closer to Highway 20 you are, the less ice you will encounter and there is currently some fishable water in this area. If you go, fish streamers, unweighted on a tight line swing.
Big Wood River
The Wood is starting to shed most of its ice as we slowly warm up from three weeks of sub-zero nighttime temperatures. As daytime temps continue to climb, the fishing should get extremely good. Focus your time on the afternoon hours and fish mid-valley between Hailey and Ketchum. Big Brassies are a good bet in Copper, Green and Red. Smaller midge patterns like Zebra and Disco Midges will work fine, but are probably unnecessary as fish are most likely going to strike whatever is put right in front of them. Black backed Hares Ears are also a great winter fly as are Chamois Flies and Prince Nymphs. If fishing is slow try streamers in olive colors with a single split shot placed right at the eye of the hook. Slow moving, waist deep water is where the fish will be actively feeding.
With warmer days we should also begin to see some limited surface activity as Midge hatches really kick into gear for the rest of the winter season. If you see fish taking flies on the surface, use Griffiths Gnats and any Trailing Shuck Midge pattern you can find. It is best to fish these in tandem as you will see the Gnat silhouetted against the glare and then simply set the hook on any fish rising near enough to it, to take the smaller trailing fly.
Basin Precip. Averages
Salmon – 93%
Big Wood – 96%
Little Wood – 95%
Big Lost – 91%
Henry’s Fork – 108%