With multiple hunting opportunities, the prospect of a great ski season on the horizon, and miles of open water free from fishing pressure, November is a great time to be in the Wood River Valley. If fishing is your activity of choice, keep checking the weather forecast and dress for the occasion as the forecast for the next two weeks is all over the map. Also, this is a good time to make sure you have winterized your vehicle and take those extra precautions for when the weather takes a turn for the worse while out fishing.
The Big Wood
The Wood has been fishing surprisingly well. Don’t expect to find any surface activity; the fish are already in their winter holding water and nymphing is the name of the game. Try beaded red, black, or green Zebra Midge, Rainbow Warriors, or Bishop’s Dynamites in size 16 and 18. Larger nymphs will also work. I like Rubber Leg Stones in size 12, Beaded Pheasant Tails in size 14, or Prince Nymphs in size 12 or 14. Please treat the fish with a loving touch and be thankful that we will be able to fish this jewel of a stream through the winter months. Still, if I have the day to fish, I would head to the Lost before the road closes or the Creek before the Preserve closes and save the Wood for Christmas and the new year.
There is a little more than two weeks left to fish the Nature Conservancy and this is a great time to be on the water. The restoration project is well under way and at the moment the pond has been drained as they rebuild the dam and construct the island in the lower pond. It is worth the trip just to check out the progress. The best fishing is in the walk and wade stretch of the Conservancy although you can have success and beat the crowds by exploring the Point of Rocks access or even checking out the Taylor Bear Tracks access on the Little Wood, which is essentially the Creek below Arco. In the Preserve, you can still expect to see some Baetis size 18 and 20 and Mahogany Duns size 16 and 18 very late in the day. However, this is mainly a nymphing game this time of year with a very short dry fly window. The browns have been spawning so please respect their spawning beds while wading and avoid fishing to actively spawning fish.
Lower Big Lost River
Before you go, check with us to see if Trail Creek Pass is still open. Even if you need to drive around through Arco, it is worth the trip. At 59 CFS, this river is at a perfect late fall early winter flow. The fish will be everywhere from shallow tail outs to the deep buckets and all the water in between. During the warmest part of the day, the fish will still move into shallow riffles to feast on the emerging Baetis and midge. This is the kind of fishery were you can really pick your challenge; you can catch a lot of fish with a shallow dry dropper or nymph rig in the broken water, or you can sight nymph to the larger fish in the shallow quiet water. No matter what you choose to do, it is a good idea to use light tippet for these selective trout. I like Trouthunter 6.5 or 7X fluorocarbon. For nymphs, try an Egan’s Frenchie, an Iron Lotus, or a Bishop’ s Dynamite in size 16 or 18 trailed behind a easy to see dry fly as an indicator. Straight up nymphing with an indicator and a San Juan Worm or Prince Nymph followed by a smaller nymph is also productive in the deeper runs. European nymphing is deadly with a single or a double nymph rig. Sight nymphing in the slow water is best done with a small, lightly weighted nymph without a bead.
South Fork of the Boise
As of November 6th, the South Fork has reopened! This was much sooner than anticipated. We have only heard a few reports about the fishing and they have been mixed. Still this would be a very interesting outing just to witness first hand the damage done by the mud slides and to see the changes in the river channel. The fishing would just be a good side show. I would not expect to see many bugs, but nymphing with large stone flys, caddis larva, and small midge patterns would surely work.
There are some steelhead in and around the Riggins area and Spey casters have been having success swinging flies. 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.
With the low morning temps it won’t be long till we start to see the reservoirs ice over. But this has been a mild November and any true stillwater expert will tell you, this is a great time to catch big aggressive fish in shallow water. There is no need to use a boat or a tube, as the fish cruise the shallows close to shore seeking warmer water and a late season meal. Try dangling nymphs off a bobber or stripping buggers or leeches on a slow sinking line.
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