We have a little over a month until many of our local rivers, including the Big Wood and Silver Creek, reopen (May 25th) and as is the tradition of fisherman over the ages, I am going to prognosticate about the fishing conditions on the horizon. For those of you making summer fishing plans, please note that Mother Nature can be fickle and ultimately will do as she wishes. As the poet Robert Burns stated, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” That said, all indicators are pointing to a below average runoff this year for the Big Wood. Our snow pack is currently at about 80% of average and the Climate Prediction Center at NOAA is calling for below average precipitation for the next several months in Central and Southern Idaho. For the angler, this means the fishing should be good earlier this year on our freestone rivers due to the lower flows and often when the flows are lower, the hatches, like the Green Drake, will also come off a bit earlier. I fully expect the Wood to be fishing well, maybe not on opening day, but by the end of June into early July, we may be able wade the river at will, unlike the last two years. If you are looking forward to the season opener and would like to brush up on your technique or even learn how to fly fish for the first time, we have a great promotional deal offered through May 31; if you purchase any Sage rod, you can register for a two day Fly Fishing 101 class for free! And for those looking to fish right now, we still have some great opportunities if you are willing to do some windshield time.
Over 3,000 Steelhead have made their way to the hatchery above Stanley, and with the cold weather, the river has remained clear above Basin Creek, and there are still some fish to be found. This fishing opportunity officially closes the end of April, and if you want to go, it is best not to wait. If you go, leave the fish on redds alone and instead focus on the deeper runs where fish will be staged. Using a single handed rod with a sighter and some big traditional nymphs can be effective in this type of water. Also, you might consider swinging flies while using a switch rod in the bigger water below Stanley. Either way you go, please drop by the shop or give us a call for the latest information about water levels and clarity as well as advice on which flies to use.
The Big Lost
Two hours drive time from Ketchum in the town of Mackay flows this tailwater gem. I don’t expect flows to come up on this river until the middle or end of May, so if you want to get into some trout before the opener, this is your best bet. The hatches on the Lost this time of year are a combination of midge and Baetis and on the right day they can be spectacular. You will need a good selection of midge in sizes 18-22 and Baetis in size 16-18 both dry and wet. Some fish are spawning in the shallow riffles, so please wade with caution and leave them alone.
As long as the wind is not howling, you should be able to find some great Stillwater fishing this time of year. Whether you choose to go to Magic, Little Camas, or Duck Valley, you are sure to find good action. In the spring, I like to pull Seal buggers and Pops buggers in black or olive off of a sinking line like a type 3 or 5 or suspend a team of nymphs off an indicator like Prince nymphs, Copper Johns, or classic Chironomids with a floating line. We have a great selection of Stillwater patterns, so come on by and we will hook you up!
Many men go fishing their entire lives without knowing it is not fish they are after.~ Henry David Thoreau
photo by Bryan Huskey