We are officially half way through winter. The days are getting longer and the sun is getting higher in the sky. More solar heating is a good thing for fishing and February and March can offer the best fishing opportunities of the winter season. The winter midge action on all our fisheries should continue to increase in productivity and more trout will come out of their winter funk and begin to feed with abandon as they fatten up for the spring spawn. In short, we are heading into the best part of the winter season and those anglers who have gone into hibernation during the the last month of frigid weather should really consider spending a day fly fishing. Also, plan on attending the Fly Fishing Film Tour coming to Boise on the 15th and Sun Valley on the 20th of this month and vicariously enjoy the thrill of chasing a variety of finned friends. Among the great film shorts will be another installment featuring The Doc and local guide Pete Wood that should not be missed. See you there!
Big Wood River
The Wood is really fun this time of year. It is still mostly a nymphing game but, if the weather permits, the dry action will just get better and better. The recent warming trend (relative to January’s freeze) has opened up the river and most all the ice has melted away allowing anglers to spread out both above and below the confluence of Warm Springs. Of course, you should still be wary of the ice along the edges. The midge action is fair and in the right spots you may find some fish feeding during the warmest time of the day. For these trout, tiny trailing shuck midge patterns tied to 6 or 6.5 tippet is a good approach. Sometimes a non beaded brassie or Miracle midge tied on a short dropper off a high vis dry can work as well. To guarantee success, nymphing the slow edge of deeper runs or through the slow buckets will produce a lot of fish. Depending on the situation, a simple dry dropper rig with a beaded Zebra Midge, a Rainbow Warrior, or a Bishop’s Dynamite might be best. If the water is deep, rigging an indicator and running a double nymph rig might be more productive. For these double rigs, try a combo of a big and ugly San Juan Worm or Rubber Leg Stone trailed by a smaller beaded nymph.
The Big Lost
The water on the Lost is quite low and the fish are concentrated in the deeper buckets. In general, if you find a fish, you find a ton of fish. Approach this water with the same tactics as you would use on the Wood; however, with the water levels as low as they are, you will need have a stealthy approach. If you catch a fish, play it out of the hole and rest the bucket before you go back for another. Once the midge kick in a bit stronger, the fish will feed despite you, and you can be a bit more careless in your approach. Enjoy the drive through Arco and up to Mackay this time of year; I love the Craters of the Moon covered in snow.
Silver Creek below Highway 20
The ice has finally cleared from the January freeze, and there is only a month left to enjoy this fishery. Remember, The Nature Conservancy is closed this time of year, but the fishing below the Highway 20 bridge will remain open until the end of February. 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 leech patterns.
South Fork of the Boise
Reports have been spotty of late, but hopefully this fishery will pick up as we head into the next two months before it closes the end of March. The white fish have been making the day for most anglers; it is the trout that have proved to be a conundrum. Plan on nymphing, with the chance of finding some surface feeders once the sun has warmed the water enough to get the midge active.
Word is that Clear Lakes down in Hagerman is planning on stocking a plethora of 3 to 5 pounders this week. This 15 acre pay to play pond, 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. 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