“Trout are among those creatures who are one hell of a lot prettier than they need to be. They can get you to wondering about the hidden workings of reality.”
― John Gierach
There is something ineffable about a rainbow trout in winter. Perhaps it is the explosion of colors against a canvas of silver and white. No matter, each encounter leads an angler to wonder.
The Big Wood
In winter, midge dominate a trout’s diet. And already we are seeing decent numbers of adult midge clustering on the surface in the afternoon and fish feeding on certain sections of the Wood. This hatch will increase as the days slowly get longer and we head into February and March. So be sure to take plenty of midge dries in addition to the usual subsurface midge patterns for winter angling. That said, winter trout often will take a much larger pattern when presented with the opportunity. To round out your winter collection of flies, always have a few streamers in olive or brown and some larger nymphs as well. On a side note, with the ice along the river’s edge, be sure to wade with caution. Use rubber-soled wading boots to prevent ice buildup with studs and a wading staff to avoid slipping. And always fish with a partner.
The Conservancy portion of the Creek is closed until opening day at the end of May; however, from 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 slow drifting nymphs and streamers during the warmest part of the day.
The Big Lost Below Mackay
The midge activity has also been solid on the Lost in the afternoon. This is a great destination if you want to make a full day angling adventure; from Ketchum, it takes a little over two hours to drive through Craters of the Moon (a spectacular sight in the winter), to Arco, and up to Mackay. For the best results, fish with stealth and fine tippet either dry dropper or Euro-style as the water is low and clear.
South Fork of the Boise
Like the Lost, this tailwater is worth the hour and a half drive from Ketchum to make a full day of fishing. Of course, a well-equipped winter vehicle is required on the ice and snow-packed road into the canyon; be sure to have studded snow tires, 4X4, and chains as well as a sleeping bag and some food. As for fishing, a patient dry fly angler will find fish on the surface even on the coldest days. Small Baetis and midge patterns fished over rising trout or along the likely seams will produce. For nymph fishermen, try dry dropper or Euro-style rigs in the seams and buckets.
Big Wood: Griffiths Gnats | Parachute Midge | High Vis Adams | Iron Lotus | Bullet French Nymph | TG Hide a Bead Baetis | Bullet Quill | Hot Rib Hare’s Ear | CDC France Fly | Lite Brite Perdigons | Sexy Walts | Perdichigons | Duracell Jig | Pat’s Rubber Legs | Bishop’s Dynamite | DB Zebra Midge in black, red, or olive | King Prince
Silver Creek: Harrop’s Baetis | Griffiths Gnats | Parachute Midge | Iron Lotus | Bullet French Nymph | Quilldigon | TG Hide a Bead Baetis | DB Zebra Midge in black, red, or olive | Pine Squirrel Leech
Big Lost: Harrop’s Baetis | Gulper Special Olive | High Vis Adams | Griffiths Gnats | Sexy Walts | Perdichigons | Iron Lotus | Bullet French Nymph | TG Hide a Bead Baetis | Bullet Quill | Hot Rib Hare’s Ear | CDC France Fly | Lite Brite Perdigons | Duracell Jig | Pat’s Rubber Legs | Bishop’s Dynamite | DB Zebra Midge in black, red, or olive | King Prince | Mops
South Fork of the Boise: Harrop’s Baetis | Gulper Special Olive | High Vis Adams | Elk Hair Caddis | Chubby Chernobyl | Ant CFO Black | Iron Lotus | Sexy Walts | Perdichigons | Bullet French Nymph | TG Hide a Bead Baetis | Bullet Quill | Hot Rib Hare’s Ear | CDC France Fly | Lite Brite Perdigons | Duracell Jig | Pat’s Rubber Legs | Bishop’s Dynamite | DB Zebra Midge in black, red, or olive | King Prince | Mops
|Silver Creek||100 cfs|
|Big Wood||120 cfs|
|The Big Lost||88.5 cfs|
|South Fork of the Boise||299 cfs|
|Salmon River||1120 cfs|