“It has always been my private conviction that any man who puts his intelligence up against a fish and loses had it coming.” – John Steinbeck
There is no better way to spend a late winter day then putting your intelligence up against that of a Winter Midge feeding trout. Truth is anyone who places his or her intelligence up against a fish and not lost is lying…and missing the point. After all, it is the problem fish that motivates anglers to find the perfect fly or spend hours practicing a reach cast. In fact, to be humbled by a trout is what makes us anglers. And to have it occur amidst the glory of the Wood in winter makes it even more sublime.
Traditionally, the lower Creek closes the end of February; however, there are some new late winter fishing options on the Creek. As of the new year, the catch-and-release season will be lengthened to March 31 on two sections (between Highway 93 upstream to the bridge near milepost 187.2 on Highway 20) and implement a catch-and-release season from December 1 through March 31 on one section (bridge near milepost 187.2 on Highway 20 upstream to Kilpatrick Bridge). While the Nature Conservancy remains closed until opening day, these new regulations will keep the lower Creek open and provide a great option as we move into March. If you go, know that there will be a brief window of surface activity during the warmest part of the day, but the most effective methods will be a slow drifted zebra midge or leech patterns pulled with a slow retrieve. Tubing in Kilpatrick Pond on warm days is now an option; be sure to dress in lots base layers and midweight fleece from SIMMS or Patagonia. And bring a thermos full on something hot!
The skiing is fantastic right now, and so is the fishing. Keep in mind, with all the snow on the valley floor (and more to come in the forecast) many of the traditional parking areas have not been plowed, and the ones that have are seeing the most angler attention. If you can be creative about how you get to and from the river with all this snow, you are sure to find water that has not been pressured. It’s Winter Midge time on the Wood! The midge range in size from a 22 to a size 16. When the hatch really gets going in the early afternoon, the fish tend to key on the emergers just below the surface or hatching midge stuck in the surface film. To match this hatch, have a good assortment of midge patterns spanning every stage of this prolific insects’ life: trailing shuck midge, Griffiths Gnats, and high vis parachute midge patterns in size 18- 24. Early in the day when no surface activity can be found, be prepared to fish dry dropper or Euro style.
The Lost Below Mackay
As we move into March, an excursion to the Lost for some outstanding late winter fishing is a must. The midday midge hatch, interspersed with a decent BWO emergence, can be prolific. The trout are feeding in preparation for their spring spawn. In fact, it is not unusual to see a few redds in early March. For flies, bring a good assortment of midge patterns and Baetis dries and nymphs; many of the same flies you would use on the Wood. Dry dropper and Euro Style rigs will catch fish all day.
South Fork of the Boise
March is traditionally one of the best months to wade fish down in the canyon and the last chance before it closes for the season and the water rises. We are seeing a lot of snow at lower elevations, so travel to the South Fork should be done with a 4X4, snow tires, and chains as the road conditions can be treacherous. If you go, expect a mixed bag of midge and Baetis, with more of the latter on cloudy days. With a keen eye, you can find fish on top and target them. Of course, if action is what you seek, fishing a dry dropper rig or Euro style in the seams and the dancing water will produce plenty of white fish and some fine trout.
Silver Creek Flies: Zebra Midge in black, red, or olive | Beaded and Non-Beaded Pheasant Tails | Iron Lotus | Bouface Leech | Pine Squirrel Leech | Balanced Leech
Big Wood, Big Lost: Trailing Shuck Midge | Griffiths Gnats | Parachute Midge | Iron Lotus | SRS Bullet French Nymph | Duracell Jig 12-18 | Jake’s Perdigon 14-18 | Tungsten Nemec Stone | Pat’s Rubber Legs | Stone Daddy 8 | Bishop’s Dynamite | DB Zebra Midge in black, red, or olive | King Prince
South Fork of the Boise Flies: Iron Lotus | Adult Midge | Pat’s Stone | Zebra Midge | Caddis Larva | Flash Back Pheasant tails | King Prince | Streamers
The Big Lost
South Fork of the Boise