I was strolling across the River Run walking bridge after a day of skiing and, as always, I stopped to check the water and see if I could spot a trout or two. All through the cold snap of January and into early February I hadn’t seen a single fish in the soft seam on the right bank as you look up the river. But today I counted a dozen or more fish scattered up the seam from the bubble line in the slowest water near the bank all the way into the heart of the riffle… and all were feeding; subsurface, but at least they were feeding. This is a good sign. With the longer days the bugs are getting active and the fish are following suit. This is a great time to be fishing in the Sun Valley area: we have until the end of the month to hit Silver Creek; we have until the end of March to enjoy the pre spawn feeding frenzy on the South Fork of the Boise and the Big Wood; and we have about a month until the steelhead get into the upper Salmon. Plenty to do right now and plenty to look forward to as well.
Big Wood River
Over the next two weeks it looks like the weather will be all over the map, but a majority of the days will be at or above freezing temperatures. No matter the weather, the Wood is your best bet if you want to ski and fish in the same day. Catch the first chair and carve up the fresh groomed corduroy, and then trade your skis or board and boots for waders and rod and fish during the warmest time of the day. Be prepared to fish with deep nymphs, dry droppers, or just straight drys. When fishing deep I like to fish a double rig with something ugly like a rubber leg stone followed by a smaller nymph like a Zebra midge. When fishing shallow riffles and slow seams to fish that are actively feeding I like to use a high-vis parachute pattern with a tiny Bishop’s Dynamite, a Rainbow Warrior, or a Zebra Midge trailing at the appropriate depth. If you go head hunting, be sure to have light tippet in 6 or 6.5x and some Trailing Shuck Midge or Griffith’s Gnats in size 18, 20, and 22.
The Big Lost
Not many anglers are making the trek through Arco and up to Mackay this time of year, so if you want to do more then just fish for a few hours and you seek solitude, this is a great option. There is a lot of food and a lot of fish in this tailwater and March can be spectacular. Like the Wood, we are still waiting for the really good surface activity to kick in and we shouldn’t have too much longer to wait. Take an assortment of your best tailwater midge patterns, both dry and wet, and some ugly bugs and you should be well prepared for a day or fishing on the Lost.
Silver Creek below Highway 20
The days are numbered down here for some potentially great big brown and rainbow fishing. Remember the Conservancy is closed and the stretch below Highway 20 will close for catch and release fishing by the end of this month. If you go be prepared to toss midge patterns with long leaders and light tippet to risers, slow drift midge patterns below an indicator, or, my favorite, swing small leech patterns.
South Fork of the Boise
If the weather cooperates, Late February and March can be outstanding on this tailwater fishery. Plan on nymphing the seams and tail outs, with the chance of finding some surface feeders once the sun has warmed the water enough to get the midge active. If you are having trouble with the trout the white fish should keep you entertained.
Clear Lake Country Club has a 15 acre pay to play pond that could be just the diversion you were looking for if you like fishing from a pontoon or a float tube in the middle of winter. Call ahead to check on their stocking schedule. And of course, come on into the shop and we will set you up with some great stillwater patterns. With the warmer weather, you should also consider hitting the Malad. On warmer days, the Malad can actually have caddis hatches which will bring the fish up to feed.
Many men go fishing their entire lives without knowing it is not fish they are after.~ Henry David Thoreau
photo by Bryan Huskey