For some fly fishermen, long winter nights and frigid days are best spent tying flys and dreaming of warmer climes. For others, the winter is a bonus season offering short windows of great fishing. Whether you are going fishing tomorrow or waiting for summer, the winter season is also a good time to learn a few new tricks. In Boise, January 11-12, the Western Idaho Fly Fishing Expo will be just such an opportunity. If you go, please stop by the Silver Creek Outfitters booth: Greg Loomis will have info and updates on the restoration project at Silver Creek, Brian Richter will be demonstrating fly tying tips and providing info specific to our waters, and Bryan Huskey will present photo and video tips to help capture your outdoor adventures. Look forward to seeing you there!
The Big Wood
The Wood saw a good deal of pressure over the last two weeks. Many a visitor and local alike took advantage of the great fishing weather. For the next month, seeing another angler should be rare. With the low snow pack, access has been good, although the late November, early December Arctic Blast formed a tremendous amount of ice along the edges of the river. Also, the silt from the fires is quite slick. I highly recommend using a wading staff to help navigate both the ice and silt. Forecasters are calling for snow through the middle of the month, so access might become more difficult soon. If you go, no need to start early. The best fishing window is from noon till 3. Some winter midge have already been active, but it is mostly a nymphing scenario this time of year. I like small flies like beaded red, black, or green Zebra Midge in size 16-22, Rainbow Warriors, or Bishop’s Dynamites in size 16 and 18. Surprisingly, large nymphs will also work. Try Rubber Leg Stones in size 12, Beaded Pheasant Tails in size 14, or Prince Nymphs in size 12 or 14. Focus your efforts on the slow deep water and generally were you find one fish there will be many others. I am happy to report that the Big Wood fish appear happy and healthy and fish of all age classes are present. Still winter trout need to be played and released quickly; please learn how to use a Ketchum Release tool.
Greg Loomis will be talking about the Silver Creek Restoration Project at the Western Idaho Fly Fishing Expo in Boise this week and images of the project can be seen on the savesilvercreek.org web site as well as our blog. If you go, it is worth a look to see first hand the progress being made even though the fishing is closed from the highway 20 bridge up stream. However, the river down stream remains open until the end of February. The long slow runs are ideal for swing a black or olive leech pattern or slow drift nymphs through the deeper buckets. On warmer days, you might see some fish surface feeding on midge.
Lower Big Lost River
This is a great place to go if you don’t mind a bit of windshield time. It takes a little over 2 hours to make the trek from Ketchum to Mackay by way Craters of the Moon and Arco…but the fishing can be spectacular. Tactically speaking, fish this much like the Wood with small midge patterns and even some Baetis on snowy, cloudy days. Try small Rainbow Warriors, Bishop’s Dynamites and Zebra Midge and a small indicator in the shallow water or a double nymph rig in the deeper runs. Sometimes these tailwaters fish can be selective and often dropping down in tippet size can make all the difference. I like using light 6.5 Trouthunter fluorocarbon tippet to fool these wily trout.
South Fork of the Boise
January can be a bit slow down in the canyon, but February and March can be some of the best fishing of the winter season. Always take a four wheel drive vehicle with studded snow tires and chains and check the weather this time of year. While fishing, look for the deep, slow runs to find the best activity and have a variety of beaded and non-beaded midge patterns as well as caddis larva, stoneflies, and San Juan Worms. A persistent angler may even find some fish feeding on the surface during the prime fishing window.
The cold weather has slowed this the steelhead fishing almost to a halt. The action should pick up as the days get longer and we get closer to March and April. But there is no time like the present to get ready, so come on in and let us help you get set up. We have a complete selection of steelhead flies and Scandi and Skagit style lines.
Shop our House of Harrop Fly selection!
Rubber Leg Stone
Lower Big Lost
San Juan Worm
SF of the Boise
“If I fished only to capture fish, my fishing trips would have ended long ago.” – Zane Grey