Winter is the devout anglers secret season. It is not for everyone. But for those willing to endure the cold, a wonderful world of solitude awaits. My approach to fly fishing of late is embodied in the Transcendental doctrine of simplicity. My minimalistic approach to a day of winter angling involves only a few flys and a Tenkara rod. For those not familiar with Tenkara rods, basically they are telescopic rods sans reel. There is a simplicity of approach to Tenkara that makes perfect sense for winter angling. One of the most frustrating aspects of winter angling with traditional gear is the inevitable ice build up in the guides and the reel and line freezing solid once wet. This usually leads to frozen fingers and an uncomfortable fishing experience. This is completely eliminated with Tenkara. The simplicity of Tenkara is yet another reason for me to keep fishing right on through the coldest months of the year.
Snow has finally come to the valley floor, which can limit some of the access points, but there are still plenty of places to park and walk to the river. I recommend you leave the felt soles for summer and take only your Vibram soled wading boots with studs. The studs will help if there is ice on the rivers edge. Be careful wading and always have a pair of clothes to change into if you get wet. And of course fish with a friend. Winter on the Wood is a treat, especially on the cloudy, snowy days. The winter midge should be on the increase so have a variety of midge wets and drys. As always, running a dry dropper with a beaded Zebra midge in red or black, a Rainbow Warrior or a Bishop’s Dynamite in size 18 or 20 will produce fish. And on the snowy days, look for heads in the slow runs where the fish like to concentrate and fish small beadless brassies beneath a midge cluster. Please handle winter trout with care and release them quickly with a Ketchum Release. The fish stay in the water and your hands stay dry…win, win.
The Big Lost
If you are looking to make a full days outing and wish to escape the hustle and bustle of Sun Valley then make the trip through Arco to Mackay to fish the Big Lost. Since the Lost is a tailwater, you can expect good hatches of midge and some beatis all winter long. This time of year the flows are low and you should fish it much the same way you would approach the Wood. Small tailwaters flies like a WD40, Miracle Midge or Zebra Midge will produce fish.
The reports have been favorable for steelhead below the Pahsimeroi River. This would be a good time to come check out our selection of Switch and Spey rods. We also have a great selection of steelhead flies and steelhead specific lines.
South Fork of the Boise
This is another great winter fishery for the more adventurous angler. Be sure to have the appropriate vehicle to make it down and back out of the canyon now that winter weather has taken its hold. Again this river is going to fish well with small midge imitations or large ugly bugs. If you hunt around you will find feeders on the surface during the prime time in the afternoons.
Silver Creek below Highway 20
The Conservancy is closed but the creek below highway 20 is still open. If you scout around the willows or Point of Rocks you are bound to find some fish feeding on a smattering of midge. Leeches can also take fish this time of year. For flies, bring your standard midge patterns and approach these fish from above with long leaders and fine tippet.
Many men go fishing their entire lives without knowing it is not fish they are after.~ Henry David Thoreau
photo by Bryan Huskey