“I suspect that a sense of humor is the most valuable thing an angler can own.” –Jim Harrison
If you are heading to the river this winter, there are several things an intrepid angler should not be without: layers upon layers, waders without leaks, and boots with studs. Check. A net and a flask, or a net that is a flask. Check. And most important, don’t forget your sense of wonder, your sense of humility, and your sense of humor. Check.
The Big Wood
With the daytime highs reaching the mid to upper 30s, the afternoon fishing of late has been quite pleasant. For dry fly enthusiasts, winter midge can be found on certain stretches of the river with small pods of trout breaking the surface. Still, the peak winter midge activity is a few weeks away. Expect most action to come on subsurface flies fished in the slow seams or deep in the tail outs. The best fishing window is still from noon till 3 or when the sun leaves the water. With snow in the forecast, keep in mind, overcast, snowy days can be spectacular. As for techniques, try trailing small flies behind a High Vis pattern or a pinch on indicator when fishing the slow edges or deep runs. Of course, large nymphs like Rubber Leg Stones fished in tandem with a small nymph suspended off an indicator will always take fish.
If you plan on fishing the Creek, remember the Nature Conservancy portion is closed. However, the river downstream of Kilpatrick Bridge remains open. The fishing has been slow, but some nice fish can be found around the Point of Rocks and Willows access. Fish the long slow runs with a black or olive leech pattern or slow drift nymphs through the likely holding water. On warmer days, you might consider putting a tube in the pond, but only do this if you have the proper layers to stay warm. Also, on pleasant days you may see some fish surface feeding on midge.
South Fork of the Boise
The fishing has been good for whitefish, but a tad slow for trout. While fishing, look for the deep, slow runs to find the best activity and have a variety of beaded and non-beaded midge patterns as well as adult dries and emergers. You may find some fish feeding on the surface during the prime fishing window from 1 to 3. As always, take a four-wheel drive vehicle with studded snow tires, chains, some food and a sleeping bag when traveling in this area.
The Lost Below Mackay
Fishing the Lost this time of year is more of a commitment, but it is worth the effort. The fishing is going to be good during the warmest time of day. Fish this much like the Wood in winter with small midge patterns and even some Baetis on snowy, cloudy days. Sometimes tailwaters fish can be selective and often dropping down in tippet size can make a huge difference. Try using light 6.5 Trouthunter fluorocarbon tippet to fool these wily trout.
South Fork of the Boise: Midge | Baetis | 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
Silver Creek: Griffiths Gnats | Parachute Midge | Iron Lotus | Leech Patterns | SRS Bullet French Nymph | Jake’s Perdigon 14-18 | DB Zebra Midge in black, red, or olive
Big Lost, Big Wood and Tributaries: Beatis | Midge | Golden Stone | Buggers | Bishop’s Dynamite | SRS Bullet French Nymph | Jake’s Perdigon | Rainbow Warrior | King Prince Nymph | DB Zebra Midge | Quildigons | Frenchie
The Big Lost
South Fork of the Boise