“It was a long time since Nick had looked into a stream and seen trout. They were very satisfactory.” ~Ernest Hemingway, from “Big Two-Hearted River”
The satisfaction comes from not just seeing the trout, but from seeing the trout feed. And then seeing what the trout is feeding upon. And then imagining your presentation; imagining how your fly would float through the air and then land delicately with out detection. And then the take…the anticipation builds as the fish chooses your fly and rises up. Now the doing of the thing and seeing it happen just as you imagined it. That is very satisfactory. The trout was there. And you caught it. Twice. Fly fishing is a visual feast.
No need to go early any more. On the warmer days you may still see a few Tricos and Baetis along with Callibaetis spinners around 11 AM, but the best action has shifted to the afternoons with a good Callibaetis emergence and spinner fall. Have a good assortment of Harrop’s Callibaetis patterns in all phases of this insects life from emergers, to duns, and spinners. The Callibaetis are small this time of year so look for patterns in size 18 and 20 to work best. If the wind, blows, and it almost always does, have some Callibaetis Hackle Stackers with trailing shucks as well. Of course, hoppers, beetles, and ants should always be in your box this time of year. It will not be long before we start seeing some Mahogany Duns as well. This bug indicates that fall has arrived and winter is just around the corner. Once they show up, the fish really key on them so be sure to have several in your box.
THE BIG WOOD
The Wood is fishing very well. The flows are low and the water has cooled, triggering the Hecuba (aka Red Quill) hatch. This is the last big of of the year, and the fish are on them. Your Green Drake flies, Parachute Hare’s Ear, or even Para-hoppers in a size 12 will work as imitations for this fly. The other mayfly of fall is also gaining momentum: Baetis. Be sure to have flies you can see well in the shallow riffles and afternoon glare. I recommend olive Gulper Specials with an orange high-vis post. Hoppers and ants are also working very well. During slow times, try trailing a small size 16 or 18 Zebra Midge in red or black, a pheasant tail, Bishop’s Dynamite, or Rainbow Warrior behind a hopper.
SOUTH FORK OF THE BOISE
Now that the water has dropped (600 CFS) wade fishermen are free to move about the river. There are still a few Pinks around in the afternoon, but the best fishing has been with hoppers and small crane flies. Don’t expect to catch a lot of fish when fishing dries, but the quality has been exceptional. If you desire to keep your rod bent, there are plenty of eager whitefish willing to take a bright colored beaded nymph. Of course, you will always pick up a few trout nymphing as well.
Lake Creek, Penny Lake, or Gaver’s Lagoon have been stocked over the summer and are a great opportunity to introduce neophytes to fishing of any kind. Drop on by before you go and we will make sure you have the right gear, flies, or bait to be successful.
This is a good time of year to head up to the bakery in Stanley, have a leisurely breakfast, and hit the water around 11 AM. The fishing has been very good using just about any technique you desire. For dries try an assortment of attractors in size 12 through 16 from Royal Wulff’s, to Parachute Adams and Orange Stimulators. Also, size 12 tan or olive Elk Hair Caddis work well to imitate the Spruce Moths along the banks of wooded water. For nymphs, try Rubber Legged Stones, Bishop’s Dynamite, or King Princes. Standard black or brown buggers swung through the riffles has also been very effective for both rainbow and bull trout.
BIG LOST BELOW MACKAY
Maybe this is the week flows will drop, but at the moment they are back up to around 338 CFS. This is actually a very good flow for fishing, even though the wading remains a bit tough; no doubt the fish love it. Still, expect it to come down any day. In the meanwhile, the fishing remains very good in the late morning into the afternoon. The Tricos have peaked on the Lost and are on there way out, but the Baetis remain very strong. The challenge remains finding consistently rising fish. When you do find them, be sure to have a good selection of Baetis emergers, duns and spinners in size 22 and 24. Nymphing is always productive. Try beaded Pheasant Tail nymphs, Zebra midge, Rainbow Warriors, or Bishop’s Dynamites either Euro style or dry dropper.
UPPER LOST- COPPER BASIN
Like the Wood, there are a few Red Quills fluttering about in the afternoon and the fish are keying on them. The program remains the same up here; cover a lot of ground and cherry pick the best water and you will find fish. As always, make your first presentations count, as these fish will feed opportunistically at first and then are hard to fool again. For searching, try a Para Hopper (good for the Hecuba as well), a flying ant, or an Elk Hair Caddis in size 14, 12 or 10 with a small trailing Zebra Midge, Bishop’s Dynamite, or Rainbow Warrior.
South Fork of the Boise