“…knowing a river intimately is a large part of the joy of fly
>fishing.” – Roderick Haig-Brown
To know a river intimately, one must experience it in all of its seasons.
Of course, most anglers know the more popular seasons, summer and fall,
when our local rivers are tricked with glamorous hatches and idyllic
conditions. But those who know a river in winter, know it in its most
nuanced state. In the low winter light, an observant angler can see
insects so small they seem insignificant hovering just above the surface.
With a keen eye, the subtle yet deliberate dimples of feeding trout will
also be revealed. The small miracle of trout rising in winter is a large
part of the joy of fly fishing reserved for those willing to intimately
know a river.
The Winter Midge hatch continues to gain momentum as we head into
February. And the trout continue to feed voraciously as they fatten up
for the spring spawn. The January thaw has melted away much of the ice
that choked up portions of the river through December, but anglers should
still focus their fishing efforts below the Warm Springs confluence to
just below the Catch and Release Bridge south of town. Look for classic
winter holding water during the afternoon hours and you are sure to find
fish feeding on all stages of Winter Midge. For dries, have a selection
of trailing shuck midge, Griffiths Gnats, and high vis parachute midge
patterns in size 18- 24. If no surface activity can be found, be prepared
to fish dry dropper or Euro style. For nymphs, try Rubber Leg Stones,
King Prince Nymphs, Zebra Midge, Bishop’s Dynamite, Egan’s Frenchy, the
Red Dart, or the Iron Lotus.
THE BIG LOST BELOW MACKAY
The flows are holding steady at 86 CFS. In the afternoon, good numbers of
midge are hatching. Some BWO are also in the mix. For flies, bring a good
assortment of Zebra Midge, Brassies, and other attractor nymphs like
Rainbow Warriors or Bishop’s Dynamite in size 16 to 22. The water is low
and clear, so approach the water with care and use long, light leaders
and tippets for the best results.
THE SOUTH FORK OF THE BOISE
Hatches can be hit of miss this time of year, but should become more
consistent as the sun hangs above the canyon rim a little longer each
day. Some of my best days on this river have been in February and March
which are just around the corner. In the meanwhile, seek out deeper runs
with ample structure or seams along dancing water and you may find fish
looking up. Standard Baetis and adult midge patterns work well. For nymph
fishermen, 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. For flies, try small
Baetis nymph patterns (18-20), Zebra Midge (18-22), Caddis Larva (12-14),
Stone Fly patterns (10-12), or San Juan Worms.
The Nature Conservancy stretch of Silver Creek to the Highway 21 bridge
is closed until the last weekend in May; however, the BLM stretch of the
Creek will remain open until the end of February. The ice has mostly
cleared and fishing deep and slow with buggers and nymphs can be
productive. You may also find some fish up feeding on midge in the
afternoon. A brassie fished just in the surface film on a long leader to
6X is a good tactic to fool these technical trout.
WATER FLOWS – JANUARY 7TH
The Big Lost
South Fork of the Boise