Whether you are just learning or you are a seasoned angler, fly fishing always presents a challenge. Maybe you want to catch your first trout on a fly you tied or maybe your goal is to fool that one problem fish on a size 24 Trico. Ultimately, if we attain our particular piscatorial goals or they eludes us, it matters not. We are fly fishermen; whatever the challenge may be, we will rise to it again and again. Fly fishermen have an amazing capacity for hope and it is this capacity which keeps us coming back to the rivers and lakes of our past or to waters we have yet to fish. So, when contemplating your personal goals for the up coming season, I have one you should add: Make this the best fly fishing season of your life. If you do this, all the other challenges just become part of the journey.
To help you plan for the best fly fishing season of your life, it is time to make a preseason forecast for the Wood River Valley. Thanks to a very wet February and March our snow pack has rebounded and is holding steady at about 80% of average. The recent warm temperatures have already bumped up the flows and we will see fluctuating high flows for the rest of the spring. However, rivers like the Wood and the Upper Lost should begin to drop and fish well right around the the end of June into the first weeks of July. Like last year, this means good water levels for the Green Drake hatch. Silver Creek should fish well right from day one. Last weekend, volunteers replanted the areas disturbed during the restoration and the fish should repopulate the pond as it refills. I anticipate the Brown Drakes on the lower Creek to be right on schedule in early June and we already have a great selection of Harrop’s patterns to match this magical mayfly.
Besides planning trips for the up coming season, this is also a good time to ditch the old leaky waders and worn out boots. SIMMS has redesigned there G3 wader and the newly designed Vibram soles on the new Vapor and Guide boot provides amazing traction. For the lady anglers, the Patagonia Spring River waders have an amazing fit. If it is time to update your vest, chest, hip or back pack both Patagonia and SIMMS have new packs for all occasions.
THE LOWER BIG LOST
The Big Lost below Mackay is your best bet for great spring fly fishing action. At the moment the flows are still holding at the winter flow of 88 CFS. Once the farmers decide to start irrigating down stream, this will jump up rather quickly, so take advantage of it while you can. Typically once the flows turn on, the high flows make this river difficult to fish until late August. I would expect both midge and Baetis in good numbers during the warmest part of the day. For midge, have a good selection of Griffith’s Gnats in size 18 to 22 as well as Trailing Shuck Midge patterns in the same size. For Baetis, I really like Harrop’s Parachute Baetis and a simple High Vis Parachute Baetis for when the light goes flat in size 18 and 20. Before the hatch starts try small Rainbow Warriors, Bishop’s Dynamites, Zebra Midge, or a small Pheasant Tail in size 16-20 fished below a small indicator or high visibility dry. You might also try a double nymph rig fished Euro Style through the deeper runs. San Juan Worms, Large Stone Flies, or Prince nymphs trailed by a small nymph are always a good bet.
The ice is mostly off Magic and float tubing or bank fishing around Myrtle Point can be productive. When heading to Magic keep in mind, the Fairfield cutoff is still closed, but all other roads are open. Another option, and a bit farther down the road, is the Duck Valley Indian Reservation. This fishery is managed by the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes and has three different reservoirs to pick from: Mountain View, Lake Billy Shaw, and Sheep Creek. For a small fee, you can fish all three and camping facilities are available for an addition fee. As for techniques in both locations, try pulling a team of small leech patterns in black, brown or olive on an intermediate or type 3 sinking line. Often spring trout are feeding on Daphnia, aka fresh water plankton, and a leech is a welcome meal. I also like to use Sheep Creek Specials in Duck Valley, or perch colored patterns at Magic. Also, suspending a series of nymphs at the right depth can also be effective at both locations. Come on by the shop and we can set you up.
The river is blown out below Basin Creek and the flows have come up on the upper river through Stanley as well, but the water is still mostly clear. There are only two weeks left to take advantage of this fishery and many of the fish are already on redds or are done spawning. Sight fishing with a single handed rod is going to be your best option. Rather than targeting fish on redds, look for the fish still staging in the deeper runs or pocket water. We still have a great selection of flies and would be happy to help you with the latest information about the flows.
Lakes and reservoirs are a great option this time of year while many of our streams flow high and muddy. The only problem is the spring winds. If you go in a tube or a boat, be sure and take all the safety precautions incase a stiff breeze blows you off course. Your best options are Magic Reservoir and Duck Valley. Magic is easily accessed through West Magic. I like the area around Myrtle Point. The Duck Valley Indian Reservation is managed by the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes and has three different reservoirs to pick from: Mountain View, Lake Billy Shaw, and Sheep Creek. For a small fee, you can fish all three and camping facilities are available for an addition fee. As for techniques in both locations, try pulling a team of small leech patterns in black, brown or olive on an intermediate or type 3 sinking line. Often spring trout are feeding on Daphnia, aka fresh water plankton, and a leech is a welcome meal. I also like to use Sheep Creek Specials in Duck Valley, or perch colored patterns at Magic. Also, suspending a series of nymphs at the right depth can also be effective at both locations. Come on by the shop and we can set you up.
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“If I fished only to capture fish, my fishing trips would have ended long ago.” – Zane Grey