Fly fishing is often rife with uncertainty, ambiguity, and misadventure. These are the elements that make fly fishing interesting and keep anglers yearning for more. Some days, however, the fishing stars align: the weather is perfect, the hatch is abundant, and the fish are willing. These are the days when preparation trumps luck; when picking up the right flies from the local shop makes all the difference; when the backyard casting practice allows you to make the first cast count. Anglers may all be gamblers at heart, but there are benefits to preparation. This fall, may you have way more than luck on your next outing!
The rain has been good for the Creek, bringing the flows up a tad. Many browns are currently in pre-spawn mode and turning pumpkin orange while others are already on redds; please leave them alone. For hatches, there have been steady Baetis along with a few Mahogany Duns once the day warms up. Be sure to have plenty of size 22 and 24 Baetis from the House of Harrop and 16 and 18 Mahogany Dun Parachute patterns. Also, there have been a few October Caddis fluttering about so have a few size 14 and 12 tan Caddis patterns in your arsenal. There are still some Callibaetis in the Pond and Slough and it would be wise to have these in your box if you find fish keying on them. As always, fish with long 12-foot leaders and 6 or 6.5X Trouthunter tippet when fishing dries. When it is slow on top, small olive, brown, black, and red nymphs in size 16-20 have also been working well fished dry dropper style. Of course, hoppers and ants will take fish on windy days. Remember, this is a great time to try a streamer pattern as well.
The recent cold snap and moisture has kicked the Wood into full fall fishing glory. The Hecubas (Red Quills) are still making an appearance but their numbers are dwindling. This bug can be a great one to use if you are searching the water looking to bring a fish to the surface. Ants are a good option as well. The Fall Baetis (size 18 and 20) continue to be the main attraction and should continue to hatch throughout the warmest part of the day for the next few weeks. To imitate this fly, an olive Gulper Special with an orange post or any of the Harrop Baetis patterns are a good choice. Also, nymphing continues to be outstanding. The best method is to fish a high floating dry, like a Parachute Ant, a hopper, or a Hecuba, with a small Baetis nymph, Zebra Midge, or Bishop’s Dynamite (size 16 or18) trailing behind. Target the shallow, dancing water at the head or side of runs and drift your dry dropper rig through the small depressions and behind any kind of structure. The fish are incredibly aggressive in this type of water and you should expect a strike the moment your flies touch the water. Remember, with the cool mornings, the fishing has really been best from around noon till the sun leaves the water. Also keep in mind, during these ideal fall conditions, the fish are spread out in every type of water feeding aggressively before the onset of winter.
Morning temps are in the 20s this week in the Stanley Basin, so give it time to warm up. The best fishing is from noon until about 4 PM. Look for pull outs with access to classic riffle-run holding water and search the water with nymphs or streamers. For nymphs, try small rubber legged stones, Bishop’s Dynamite, Rainbow Warriors, or any other beaded size 14 or 16 nymph.
THE UPPER LOST
The road construction is done and the pass is in really good shape right now. Snow is coming soon (we hope), so it won’t be long before this area becomes difficult to access; take advantage of this while the fall colors are at their peak. The cool overnight temps have really made this an afternoon fishery. The water has come up a bit with the recent rains, but the fish are still concentrated around the deeper runs with lots of structure. Finding the fish is the name of the game right now, so plan on staying mobile and cover a lot of likely water. For bugs, some Hecuba have still been spotted; otherwise, hoppers, and ant patterns are good fall flies to throw. Nymphing can also effective. Try a small red or black Zebra Midge, beaded Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns, or Bishop’s Dynamites.
BIG LOST – MACKAY
The flows are holding at 190 CFS. This is a good flow for easy wading and great sight fishing with nymphs and dries. On the pleasant fall days, expect to have steady Baetis with a smattering of Tricos starting around 10 or 11 AM and lasting until 2 PM. Have a range of Baetis patterns from size 20 to 24 and fish at least 6 or 6.5X tippet on a 9-foot to 12-foot leader. If you can’t find surface feeders, try fishing a dry dropper rig or Euro Nymphing. For nymphs, try small Baetis-style nymphs (18-22), Zebra Midge, or attractor nymphs like the Rainbow Warrior, Iron Lotus, or Bishop’s Dynamite in size 16 and 18.
SOUTH FORK OF THE BOISE
The flows remain steady at 300 CFS. At these flows, the drift boats have disappeared and the river is very wadeable. While the hatches have been sparse, you will find some small caddis and a few Flavs hatching throughout the day. Also, with the cooler temperatures, the Fall Baetis are beginning to pick up steam. Try micro caddis in peacock and olive as well as Harrop’s Baetis patterns if you find rising fish. Nymphing Euro Style or Dry Dropper is very productive especially for the Mountain Whitefish. Try small Baetis nymph patterns, Zebra Midge, Caddis Larva, Stone Fly patterns, or San Juan Worms.
Lake Creek, Penny Lake, or Gaver’s Lagoon have been stocked for the last time a few weeks ago. These are great places to help a youngster catch a fish with bait or have a fly fishing lesson. Whatever style of fishing you want to do, we are your headquarters, so drop on by and we will make sure you have the right gear to be successful.
South Fork of the Boise
The Big Lost