“Never forget: Fly fishing is fun partly because it is frustrating.” ~ Phil Monahan
The upper end of Sullivan’s Slough is aptly named the Shark Tank. From the road cutting across the sage covered hillside above the Slough, gawkers stop and admire the size and quantity of looming rainbow trout. The simple fact is, these fish are hard to fool. With the clarity and depth of the water, an angler must stand like a heron and watch fish after fish charge and reject his or her fly; the experience is a visual feast…exhilarating and maddening at the same time. As one of my clients said the other day, “I could not catch these fish all day, and love every minute of it!” But if the wind and sun are just right, the next charge may just be the one!
With the morning temps on the cool side, most of the hatch activity has shifted to late in the morning and lasting to nearly noon. You will still see a few Tricos about, but the morning hatch consists mostly of Baetis Spinners with a few PMDs and Callibaetis spinners as well. The fish will still pod, but the feeding is less frenzied than earlier in the month. When you find feeding fish, try fishing a small 22 or 24 Harrop’s Hen Winged Baetis or Trico Spinner with a light, long leader of about 12 feet to 6, 6.5, or even 7X tippet to fool these seasoned trout. After the hatch runs it’s course, the fish will start looking for hoppers, beetles and ants blown into the river as well as any remaining Damsels that may be fluttering about. If the wind blows the hatch off, nymphing with small Baetis, midge, or Trico nymphs can save the day. If you stay into the afternoon and evening look for the Callibaetis hatch to really get going in the pond.
THE BIG WOOD
The Wood still has a touch of color left over from heavy rains last week that blew out Warm Springs Creek. Nevertheless, the Wood has been fishing better than expected both below Warm Springs and north of Ketchum and should continue to improve as we move into late August and September. On the lower river, you will find decent Trico action in the morning, and as the day warms up, the hopper fishing has also been very good. Still, fishing dry dropper rigs or Euro Style is the most productive. For flies, try small (12-16) yellow Stimulators, Parachute Hare’s Ear, Adams, or Purple Haze and for nymphs try a Rubber Legged Stone, Rainbow Warrior, Zebra Midge, or Bishop’s Dynamite.
SOUTH FORK OF THE BOISE
Not much has changed here. The flows remain high at 1,770 CFS. At these flows, wading is very difficult, though not impossible, and drift boats remain the best way to access the river. Try tossing hoppers or big foam attractor patterns along the bank. Pink Alberts and Caddis can be found in the late afternoon and offer a good opportunity to find some fantastic fish looking up. Nymphing is decent all day with large rubber leg stone fly patterns, caddis larva, and midge patterns when no bugs are about and will keep your rod bent on both whitefish and trout.
Looking for a good place to take the family? Try Lake Creek, Penny Lake, or Gaver’s Lagoon. All have been recently stocked and are a great opportunity to introduce neophytes to fishing of any kind. Drop on by before you go and we will make sure you have the right gear, flies, or bait to be successful.
f you are looking for a great day trip option, try the waters around the Stanley area. There are plenty of walk and wade options and a we are still offering float trips on the lower river. The fishing is good on both the upper and lower Salmon River and spruce moth patterns have been turning fish along the stretches of river lined with evergreens. If you don’t see any bugs in the air, try using a tan stone fly in size 14 to 8 trailed by a smaller beaded nymph like a Pheasant Tail or a Bishop’s Dynamite in the shallow riffles above the deeper runs. You might also try swinging black, brown, and olive streamers or buggers. For a change of pace, you might try one one the Salmon Rivers many excellent tributaries. Bear Valley Creek and Valley Creek fish well with hoppers, ants, nymphs and streamer patterns.
BIG LOST BELOW MACKAY
The flows continue to bounce up and down, but are currently at 356 CFS. Be sure to check the flows before you go and don’t be surprised if they fluctuate while you are there. The Trico spinner fall in the morning continues to be strong throughout the river and is followed by intermittent Baetis duns and spinners into the early afternoon. With the high flows, finding surface feeding fish can be a challenge; however, if you look for slow water with concentrations of fish or heavily populated seams or back eddies, you will find surface feeders. Since the Lost runs East to West, the glare can be strong, so be sure to have plenty of Trico and Baetis patterns tied with high vis posts. Nymphing is always productive if you cannot find surface feeders. Try standard dry dropper rigs or fish Euro Style techniques. The best patterns include Rubber Leg Stones, San Juan Worms, and King Princes in the heavy runs. For the shallow water, try small nymphs like Zebra Midge, Bishop’s Dynamite, Beaded Pheasant Tails, and Rainbow Warriors in size 16, 18, and 20 below an attractor dry of your choice.
UPPER LOST- COPPER BASIN
With the cooler morning temps, the fishing is best in the late morning into the afternoon. The water is very low and the fish are concentrated in the best water. That said, you will still fish plenty of good looking water with no fish present. As a rule, if the fish are there, you will catch them on the first few well presented casts; if nothing moves to strike your fly, move to the next spot. The most successful anglers cover large expanses of water.
For flies, try small hoppers, caddis, stimulators and other small high vis attractors with a trailing nymph such as a Zebra Midge, a Bishop’s Dynamite, or a Beaded Pheasant Tail.
South Fork of the Boise