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Image: Ed Northen

“Snow was falling/ so much like stars/ filling the dark trees/ that one could easily imagine/ its reason for being was nothing more/ than prettiness.”

– Mary Oliver

So much depends upon each snowflake. The fate of tomorrow’s fishery, and the year after that, and so on. Their beauty is deeper than mere appearances.

Big Wood
Snow has finally come to the valley floor. In fact, the overall snow water equivalent percentage of normal in the mountains went from 50% at the start of January to 91% in early February. Thankfully, more snow is in the forecast. Despite the new snow, access to the river remains easy, but you may need to walk a tad farther from a designated parking area. The fishing is good and improving as the days get longer. If we continue to have mild daytime highs, the winter midge hatch will keep getting stronger. Your recipe for success: find a concentration of trout with adult midge scurrying about the surface in the late afternoon. And be sure to have an array of adult and subsurface midge patterns, along with light tippet, as these fish can be savvy.

Silver Creek
Mild days have left the Creek ice-free and access is easy. When fishing, you might walk the bank and search for trout sipping on midge. Of course, approach with caution and fish with a long leader and light tippet.  If you find no fish feeding, try fishing deep and slow with nymphs around the obvious buckets or slow stripping streamers off the bank.  Tubing Kilpatrick pond is another option as long as you have enough insulation beneath your waders. Remember, the Nature Conservancy is closed, but the Creek from Kilpatrick’s Bridge down remains open until the end of March.

The Lost Below Mackay
With Trail Creek Pass closed, it takes over two hours to make the trip through Craters of the Moon, Arco, and up to the town of Mackay. A beautiful drive in winter, by the way. With the days getting longer, this is a solid option. The fishing can be productive this time of year and with the low flows (80 CFS) you will find plenty of fish in the slow buckets. Be prepared for a solid midge hatch mixed with a few Baetis.

South Fork of the Boise
As always, the river is holding steady at 300 CFS below Anderson and should remain at this level until the river closes at the end of March. With the sun hanging in the sky a tad longer, it is certainly worth the trip to this wonderful fishery. While the weekends can be crowded, weekdays are seeing light pressure. Surface activity can be hit or miss; however, those willing to dead drift a nymph will be rewarded with plenty of whitefish and a few trout.

Silver Creek: Beatis Nymphs | Zebra Midge in black, red, or olive | Small Pheasant Tails | Streamers

Big Wood: Adult Midge | Miller’s +1 | Blowtorch | Bishop’s Dynamite | Mops and Mini Mopcicles | Red Neck Midge | DD Midge | Zebra Midge in black, red, or olive

Big Lost: Adult Midge | Miller’s +1 | Blowtorch | Bishop’s Dynamite | Mops and Mini Mopcicles | Red Neck Midge | DD Midge | Zebra Midge in black, red, or olive | Streamers

South Fork of the Boise: Baetis | Midge | Duracell | French Nymph | Perdigons | San Juan Worm | Pat’s Rubber Leg Stone




Silver Creek 170 cfs
Big Wood 166 cfs
The Lost Below Mackay 82 cfs
Salmon 418 cfs
South Fork of the Boise 304 cfs