“A year of snow, a year of plenty.”
– French Proverb
The snow pack in the Big Wood drainage is currently at 172% of average and still has the potential to climb heading into spring. The stage is set for a record breaking spring run-off on the Wood and surrounding drainages. To put this in perspective, the Valley had a similar snow pack in 2006 and the flows peaked on the Wood at 7,800 CFS. Over the next four months we will see how this drama will unfold! In the meantime, as we head into the last month of the season the flows on the Wood are perfect; however, some of the local tail-waters are already going up in anticipation of the spring melt.
Silver Creek below Highway 20 is open until the end of the month and there are only a few days left to fish this area until opening day the end of May. The low altitude rain and snow melt has brought the river up and turned the water murky, but the streamer fishing can still be good. Try swinging a lightly weighted bugger off the bank, over the shallow shelves, and through the buckets.
The challenge on the Wood right now is getting to the river; the typical parking areas are full of snow. If you take along some snowshoes and are prepared to hike to the river from a plowed parking area, you are in for some great fishing. After all, February and March are typically the best winter dry fly months of the season. The winter midge activity on the Wood can be spectacular, especially on cloudy, snowy days. No matter what the day gives you, go with a good supply of midge patterns in sizes 16 to 24: Trailing Shuck Midge, Griffiths Gnats, Parachute Adams, beaded Zebra Midge, non-beaded Brassies. If you find surface activity, try a double dry setup with an easy-to-see dry trailed by a smaller midge imitation. This is a great option in low light conditions. Sometimes switching the small fly in this tandem rig to the non-beaded brassie, which will ride just below the surface film, will fool finicky trout. Also, using light Trouthunter tippet in size 6 or 6.5X is a good choice for problem fish. Of course, for those times when nothing is happening on the surface, try a dry dropper rig with a beaded zebra midge, Rainbow Warrior, or a Bishop’s Dynamite. Deep nymphing will also produce with a double rig and an indicator or Euro Nymphing. For an anchor fly, use a Rubber Leg Stone, a large beaded Prince or Pheasant Tail in sizes 8-14.
THE BIG LOST – MACKAY
The flows are already on the way up on the Lost and are currently holding at 300 CFS. If the flows hold, the fishing will be good, but they may even go higher. Always check the flows before you go. The higher flows will minimize the dry fly opportunities, but the nymphing will be fantastic. For flies, bring a good assortment of Zebra Midge, Brassies, and other attractor nymphs like Rainbow Warriors and Bishop’s Dynamite in sizes 16 to 22. Also, larger nymphs like a King Prince, Rubber Leg Stone, or San Juan Worm will be effective.
SOUTH FORK OF THE BOISE
The river is holding steady at 300 CFS and typically remains at this level until the river closes the end of March. Flows may change, however, if we continue to see early run-off due to the warmer temperatures. The fishing is fantastic in March, and this area is definitely worth the drive for a full day of fishing. Surface activity can be unpredictable, but those willing to dead drift a nymph or swing a streamer will be rewarded. For dries, standard Baetis and adult midge patterns work well. For nymphs, try small Baetis nymph patterns (18-20), Zebra Midge (18-22), Caddis Larva (12-14), Stone Fly patterns (10-12), or San Juan Worms.
South Fork of the Boise
The Big Lost