“Fishing is like that. It keeps you off balance, surprises you. It takes humility to learn, to accept that you may need a lesson or two even in your advanced stage of enlightenment.”
– Kevin Nelson
The best fly fishermen are confident, but humble. The confidence comes from knowing that if you keep an open mind, keep striving to learn from the environment, the fish, and the other anglers around you, success will come more often than not. This takes humility, comfort with instability, and an acceptance that the most enlightened anglers may not be the most experienced. Fly fishing is, most certainly, like that.
The Nature Conservancy and the Double R Ranch portion of the Creek down to highway 20 is now closed for the season and will reopen at the end of May. The Creek from the Highway 20 bridge down through the Willows, Point of Rocks, and Priest Rapids will remain open until the end of February. While you may find a few fish rising to emerging and adult midge in the slower stretches, nymphing dry dropper style or with an indicator will be most effective. Try size 24-16 Pheasant Tails nymphs or olive and red Zebra Midge. Swinging black and olive leech patterns deep and slow can also be productive.
If the temperatures fall consistently below freezing, the best fishing on the Wood will be downstream of the Warm Springs confluence through the catch and release water to the East Fork Bridge. The fish are concentrated in the winter holding water to conserve energy, so look for deep, slow water and focus your efforts there. The Valley floor has received a touch of snow, but all the accesses are still open for parking at the moment. We are still a couple of months away from the prolific winter Midge, so nymphing is going to be the most productive method. The key to success is finding the right depth as winter fish tend to not move very far for their food. The best methods are standard dry dropper, indicator with two nymphs, or a Euro style rigs. For nymphs try Rubber Leg Stones, King Prince Nymphs, Zebra Midge, Bishop’s Dynamite, Egan’s Frenchy, or the Iron Lotus.
THE BIG LOST – MACKAY
Snow is in the forecast which means Trail Creek Pass could close any day. Check with us before you go and we will let you know if you will need to go around through Carey and over to Arco to get to Mackay. Thankfully, the flows have come up a bit to 75 CFS. Still, at this level the fish are spooky and concentrated. Be stealthy and patient and you will find success. Expect some Baetis, but mostly midge hatching late in the day. If you find surface activity, utilize long leaders down to 6 or 7X and small flies to match. Nymphing is the most effective technique at the moment and at these flows the sight nymphing is really good. Try a small beaded midge or Baetis below a dry or small indicator or bi-colored sighter built into your leader.
SOUTH FORK OF THE BOISE
If you head to the South Fork be sure to take a standard winter survival kit in the car including chains, a sleeping bag, and plenty of water and food. Winter weather is in the forecast and the road can be nasty even with a dusting of snow. As for fishing, there is a decent dry fly window during the warmest time of the day when the sun is above the rim. Still, nymphing, Euro Style or with a Dry Dropper, is the most productive for trout and whitefish when you see no surface feeding fish. For nymphs try small Baetis nymph patterns, Zebra Midge, caddis larva, stone fly patterns, or San Juan Worms. Streamers are also effective.
South Fork of the Boise
The Big Lost