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“The line between catching fish and not catching them is often very thin.”
– Ted Trueblood

Anglers with a balance of preparation, patience, humility, confidence, and faith approach the thin line between catching and not catching with more frequency. The end result is more fish caught.

The Big Wood
In the last week of January, the snow water equivalent for the Big Wood Basin jumped from 75% to 87%. This is great news for next summer! However, all the snow on the valley floor makes access to the river tricky as parking is limited. If you are creative in how you approach the river, you can find trout that have not seen pressure in weeks. As always, focus your attention below the confluence of Warm Springs. The influx of warmer water plus the exposure to the sun has left this stretch of water mostly open with plenty of fishing opportunities. Don’t bother hitting the water until around noon and dress with layers so you can adjust to the changing air temps. You will notice the fishing begins to slow down around three and by five it can completely shut down. Fly choice this time of year is simple. Bring a box full of midge in a variety of stages as well as a few larger nymphs and streamers.

Silver Creek
The Conservancy portion of the Creek remains closed until opening day; however, from the Kilpatrick Bridge down through the Willows and the Point of Rocks, the fishing will remain open until the end of March. Your best action will come on nymphs and streamers during the warmest part of the day.

The Big Lost Below Mackay
This is another winter fishing gem and February and March can be fantastic. It takes a bit of windshield time (two hours) to drive through Arco and up to Mackay, but it is worth the trip. Approach this water with the same tactics as you would use on the Wood. With the water levels as low as they are, you will find concentrations of fish in the classic winter buckets and once you get to the water you won’t need to walk far to find fish. Sometimes these tail-water fish can be selective and often dropping down in tippet size can make all the difference.

South Fork of the Boise
Hatches can be hit or miss this time of year but should become more consistent with warm days in the forecast. Seek out deeper runs with ample structure or seams along dancing water and you may find fish looking up. For the best results, try dry dropper or Euro Style rigs in the seams and tailouts. If this doesn’t get you into some trout, you will certainly be able to find a multitude of whitefish to keep your rod bent. As always, travel with a winter survival kit including a sleeping bag, chains, extra food, water, and whiskey when venturing into this canyon.

Big Wood: Griffiths Gnats | Parachute Midge | Bullet French Nymph | Lite Brite Perdigons | Mayhem Midge | Perdichigons | Pat’s Rubber Legs | Bishop’s Dynamite | Zebra Midge in black, red, or olive

Silver Creek: Griffiths Gnats | Parachute Midge | Bullet French Nymph | Zebra Midge in black, red, or olive | Pine Squirrel Leech

Big Lost: High Vis Adams | Griffiths Gnats | Mayhem Midge | Perdichigons | Bullet French Nymph | TG Hide a Bead Baetis | CDC France Fly | Lite Brite Perdigons | Duracell Jig | Bishop’s Dynamite | Zebra Midge in black, red, or olive

South Fork of the Boise: Gulper Special Olive | High Vis Adams | Mayhem Midge | Perdichigons | Bullet French Nymph | Lite Brite Perdigons | Pat’s Rubber Legs | Bishop’s Dynamite | Zebra Midge in black, red, or olive

 

Silver Creek 98.3 cfs
Big Wood 127 cfs
The Big Lost 97.9 cfs
South Fork of the Boise 304 cfs
Salmon River 1070 cfs