“Two things are certain this year, there will be an extended high water season when the snow starts melting; the timing and the magnitude of the peak flows are unknown at this time, and the peaks could be big on some rivers.”
– Idaho Water Supply Outlook Report March 1, 2017
On normal years, the Wood and surrounding freestones are ready to fish right around the first week of July when the flows drop below 400 CFS. This is not a normal year; the snow keeps coming! The snowpack in the Big Wood, Little Wood, and Big Lost Basins are between 175% to 200% of normal and there is more snow in the forecast for March. With this record breaking snowpack, we may not see wadeable levels on the Wood until the middle or end of July. In the meanwhile, the cooler temperatures are keeping the snow on the valley floor from melting and the Wood is crystal clear. Once the day time temperatures moderate, we will see some fantastic March Midge action!
If you want to find fresh untouched water on the Wood, take your snow shoes and look for untracked powder. Any access that is too easy will have a beaten path to the river and you know someone has fished it recently. March is a magical time on the Wood and it is the last month to enjoy the fishing before it closes for the season and then goes through an epic, transformative runoff. With the cool mornings, it is best to be on the water from about midday until the sun starts to drop behind the mountains. For flies and techniques, plan on encountering plenty of midge; carry variety of midge patterns in sizes 16 to 24. Some favorites include the Trailing Shuck Midge, Griffiths Gnats, Parachute Adams, beaded Zebra Midge, non-beaded Brassies. When the surface action is on, try a double dry set up with an easy to see dry trailed by a smaller midge imitation. Once the fish seem to wise up, try switching the small fly in this tandem rig to the non beaded brassie, which will ride just below the surface film. The right tippet can also make a huge difference; Trouthunter tippet in size 6 or 6.5 X is a good option. If you can’t find any surface activity, try a dry dropper rig with a beaded zebra midge, Rainbow Warrior, or a Bishop’s Dynamite. Going deep in the right bucket with a double rig and an indicator or Euro Nymphing might be worth a try. Try Rubber Leg Stones, large beaded Prince or Pheasant Tail nymphs in sizes 8-14 followed by a smaller fly.
SOUTH FORK OF THE BOISE
Not much has changed here; the river is holding steady at 300 CFS. Flows may change, however, if we continue to see early run-off due to the warmer temperatures. The fishing can be 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.
THE BIG LOST – MACKAY
The flows are currently holding at 400 CFS and may go up any day; always check the flows before you go. At this flow wading is difficult, but strong waders can still find some areas to fish. The higher flows will minimize the dry fly opportunities, but the nymphing will be decent. For flies, bring a good assortment of Zebra Midge, Brassies, and other attractor nymphs like Rainbow Warriors and Bishop’s Dynamite in size 16 to 22. Also, larger nymphs like a King Prince, Rubber Leg Stone, or San Juan Worm will be effective.
Silver Creek is now closed until opening day May 27th.
South Fork of the Boise
The Big Lost