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Image: Ed Northen

“One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of March thaw, is the Spring.”

– Aldo Leopold

The same could be said of the steelhead. After a journey of eight hundred miles and eight dams, Spring has arrived. With one return, surely a hover will follow.

Big Wood
Late February and March have been great for our snowpack! And with snow on the valley floor, parking access has become tricky especially around town. But if you can find a place to park and are willing to walk a tad, you will find great fishing. Of course,  with the potential for afternoon midge dry fly action, this makes March a magical time on the Wood.  And it is the last month to enjoy the fishing before it closes for the season. With the cool mornings, it is best to be on the water from about midday until the sun starts to drop behind the mountains. Look for adult midge to hatch between 1 and 3 pm. If you can find the right water type, slow seams or tailouts, scan the water for rises.  For flies and techniques, carry a variety of midge patterns in sizes 16 to 24. When the surface action is on, try a double dry set up with an easy to see dry trailed by a smaller midge imitation. Once the fish seem to wise up, try switching the small fly in this tandem rig to the non beaded midge pattern, which will ride just below the surface film. If you can’t find any surface activity, try a dry dropper rig. Going deep in the right bucket with a double nymph rig and an indicator or Euro Nymphing might be worth a try as well.

Silver Creek
The lower Creek from Kilpatrick Bridge down through Point of Rocks is open until the end of March, like the Wood, and the fishing can be great this time of year. The snowpack is minimal in the South Valley and access is easy. Float tubing in the Pond for those willing to brave the cold water temperatures or wade fishing the lower reaches in search of risers are both decent options. If you go, know that there will be a brief window of surface activity during the warmest part of the day so have some adult midge patterns and a long, light leader. The rest of the time try a slow drifted zebra midge or swinging leech patterns on a slow retrieve.

The Lost Below Mackay
With the days getting longer, the two hour trip through Craters of the Moon, Arco, and up to the town of Mackay is worth the windshield time to fish this fantastic tailwater. Remember, unlike the Creek and the Wood, the Lost stays open year round. The midge hatches in March can be prolific, especially on overcast days, and there will be some Baetis in the mix as well. The wading is easy with the low flows (95 CFS) and you will find plenty of fish in the slow buckets and riffles. Keep in mind that the rainbows and cutbows tend to spawn early on this river, so please wade carefully and avoid redds.

South Fork of the Boise
The river is holding steady at 300 CFS and the roads are in good shape. Anderson Reservoir is at  86% capacity, so don’t be surprised if flows come up before the end of the month. The fishing can be excellent in March, and like the Lost, it is definitely worth the drive for a full day of fishing.Surface activity can be unpredictable, but those willing to dead drift a nymph or swing a streamer will be rewarded. The whitefish are plentiful and the rainbows are large. Remember, this river also closes at the end of the month, so get out while you can.

The Salmon 
As of the writing of this report, the Pahsimeori Hatchery has trapped 88 hatchery steelhead and Sawtooth Hatchery has set up the weir but is not reporting any returns. With the warm weather in the forecast, the fish should start moving up. Come on by the shop for the latest updates and grab some flies before you head over the hill.

Silver Creek: Beatis Nymphs | Zebra Midge in black, red, or olive | Small Pheasant Tails | Streamers

Big Wood: Adult Midge | Miller’s +1 | Blowtorch | Bishop’s Dynamite | Mops and Mini Mopcicles | Red Neck Midge | DD Midge | Zebra Midge in black, red, or olive

Big Lost: Adult Midge | Miller’s +1 | Blowtorch | Bishop’s Dynamite | Mops and Mini Mopcicles | Red Neck Midge | DD Midge | Zebra Midge in black, red, or olive | Streamers

South Fork of the Boise: Baetis | Midge | Duracell | French Nymph | Perdigons | San Juan Worm | Pat’s Rubber Leg Stone




Silver Creek 153 cfs
Big Wood 174 cfs
The Lost Below Mackay 93.1 cfs
Salmon 435 cfs
South Fork of the Boise 300 cfs