“Autumn is the hush before winter.” ~ French Proverb
Autumn is the silence before the storm, and all nature knows there is work to be done. As the days get shorter, the trout feast on the last mayflies of the year, like squirrels gathering nuts for the cold days ahead. They sense that our pleasant days are numbered. As anglers, we need to take advantage of these fleeting moments of autumnal quietude. The hush can’t last forever.
This time of year the choice of bugs dwindles to just a few options. Be prepared for lots of Baetis (size 20 and 22) as well as Mahogany Duns (size 16). You may find a few Callibaetis, even an occasional Trico depending on where you are, but once the cooler temps take hold these bugs will disappear until next summer. Terrestrials are still going to be a factor, especially when the wind blows. Watch for the cool, cloudy days because the fishing can be incredible. On these blustery days, fishing hoppers or ripping streamers can be fantastic and the Baetis will be prolific. FYI, if you find some early brown trout on redds, let them be and watch your step.
THE BIG WOOD
The Fall Baetis (size 20) are going to continue to hatch through out the month of October. To imitate this fly, I prefer an olive Gulper Special with an orange post or any of the Harrop Baetis patterns in size 18 or 20. Also, nymphing continues to be outstanding. The best method is to fish a high floating dry, like an Parachute Ant, a hopper, or a Hecuba, with a small Baetis nymph or Zebra midge (size 18) trailing behind. Target the shallow, dancing water at the head of runs and drift your dry dropper rig through the small depressions and behind any kind of structure. The fish are incredibly aggressive in this type of water and you should expect a strike the moment your flies touch. Remember, with the cool mornings, the fishing has really been best from around noon till the sun leaves the water. And keep in mind, during these ideal fall conditions, the fish are spread out in every type of water with the biggest fish in the seams and tailouts.
SOUTH FORK OF THE BOISE
The river is holding steady a 300 CFS and the fish are concentrated around the riffles and runs with decent depth. There are still a few Crane flies around and a smattering of caddis, but in the late afternoon the Baetis are on the water. The warmer weather seems to have stalled the good fall Baetis, but it will be cool again soon enough. For flies, have the same collection of Baetis you would take to the Lost, the Creek, or the Wood. When all else fails, the nymphing will produce a ton of whitefish and some sensational trout. The best nymphs include small Zebra Midge, WD40s, or Rainbow Warriors or larger nymphs like rubber legged stones or caddis larva.
Even though the summer stocking has come to an end, there is still some great weather for a family picnic at one of our local ponds: Lake Creek, Penny Lake, or Gaver’s Lagoon. Drop on by before you go and we will make sure you have the right gear, flies, or bait to be successful.
This area continues to be one the better choices for late fall fishing both above and below the town of Stanley. Remember, with the low flows, the fish will concentrate around the runs with decent holding water. And even though we are experiencing some warm fall weather, it is still cold up here in the mornings; no need to start to early. You can really fish any technique that suits your fancy. For dries try Orange Stimulators, hoppers, ants, caddis, or other high floating easy to see attractors. For nymphs try small rubber legged stones, Bishop’s Dynamite, Rainbow Warriors, or any other beaded size 14 or 16 nymph. Olive, black and brown Buggers will take fish as well.
BIG LOST BELOW MACKAY
200 CFS is a perfect flow for this river. The river is very easy to wade and the fish are still spread out. In the mid to late afternoon expect a few midge and crane flies along with good numbers of Fall Baetis. Keep your eyes on the seams and slow tailouts for fish sipping duns. With the low angle of light this time of year, the Baetis are very hard to see, so keep a keen eye on the water. For flies try Harrop’s Duns, Spinners, and Cripples in a size 22-24. Be stealthy and fish long leaders and fine tippet down to 6.5X or 7 X. The nymphing has also been quite good. Try a single nymph with a heavy tungsten bead fished on a long leader Euro Style on a long Tenkara rod. Also, a simple dry dropper rig with a long leader on a traditional rod is effective for greater distance and delicate presentations for spooky fish. For nymphs have a variety of heavy beaded standards like PTs or Princes in size 14 to 16. Also have a good supply of micro nymphs like Zebra Midge and WD40s with silver, gold, and black beads in size 18 to 22.
UPPER LOST- COPPER BASIN
The cool mornings have shortened the fishing window to the afternoon, making this the perfect place to go after a leisurely breakfast in town. Focus your attention on the “greenish” water; this is where you will find fish. Also, you may still find some Hecubas, known as the Western Red Quill, fluttering about. Even if you don’t, this is a good bug to search the water with as it is the last big bug of the season and the fish key on it, especially on cloudy days. You might also try ant patterns or hoppers. These fish love small and medium size nymphs such as red or black Zebra Midge, beaded Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns, or Bishop’s Dynamites as well. Remember the Upper Lost mantra: stay mobile!
South Fork of the Boise