“The finest gift you can give to any fisherman is to put a good fish back, and who knows if the fish that you caught isn’t someone else’s gift to you?” ~Lee Wulff
This season, our rivers have been blessed with an abundance of wild fish. The finest gift anglers can give to the trout as the waters warm up this July and August is to learn how to release them quickly. If using a net, use one with a rubber mesh large enough to keep the fish safe while removing the hook. Also, learn how to properly use a Ketchum Release tool so you never need to handle the trout. If you follow these basic steps, the trout, and other anglers, will thank you.
The Creek has yet to fall into a consistent summer pattern of hatches, but it is improving. While some mornings the hatches remain week, others have produced a complex array of bugs beginning with Callibaetis spinners and Trico Duns on the water. Baetis might make an appearance as well as a few PMD spinners and Duns. While the Tricos continue to sputter, they should build steam over the next few weeks. When the morning activity subsides, Blue Damsels take the stage as well as Callibaetis Duns and Spinners. Of course, beetles and ants are also good midday. In the evening, Caddis and PMDs, both 16 and 18 can be abundant. To be safe, you need to have your box ready with all the usual suspects and bring your “A” game to the Creek this time of year. Be sure to also have plenty of Frogs Fanny to help keep your size 20 to 24 flies floating high and dry as well as enough Trouthunter 6.5X tippet. Keep in mind, with the onset of the Trico hatch, the number of anglers will increase as well, especially in the Preserve. Please use common sense and courtesy when fishing around other anglers.
The Drakes may be done, but the Wood continues to fish well. At 326 CFS the river is still difficult to wade in certain areas, but strong waders can move about and with the air temps in the 80s and 90s, it is a perfect time to wet wade. The action is good from mid-morning into the early afternoon, but it will slow down until the evening caddis action. If you do see bugs, it will be a mixed bag of some Pink Alberts, Western Quills, Yellow Sallies, Crane Flies and Baetis. For drys you should try smaller size 14 or 16 parachute patterns like Purple Haze, Parachute Hare’s Ear, or Gulper Specials in olive or tan. Large attractor dries will turn fish but often get a short strike. Still a dry dropper set up can be deadly. Try a red or black Zebra Midge, beaded pheasant tail, Rainbow Warrior, Iron Lotus, Frenchie, or Bishop’s Dynamite in size 16 or 18 trailed behind a high floating dry. Straight up nymphing with an indicator or European style can be very effective as well. The fish hit the fly, whether wet or dry, with astonishing speed this time of year, so be sure to hone your hook setting skills by managing you slack line both in your hands and on the water.
Upper Big Lost
The Upper Lost is really starting to fish well especially on the East Fork. Still, reports vary from outstanding to fair. The anglers who are most successful are the ones who cover a lot of ground. For the most part, the Upper Lost fish are opportunists and will feed on the first well-presented fly. If you don’t turn any fish in some likely water, just move on and keep searching. Those who take this tactic have been finding several nice cutthroats. Take your favorite attractor dries, like Stimulators and Royal Wulff’s and an assortment of nymphs and have some fun searching the water. Also have some smaller dries, like Parachute PMDs and Purple Haze in size 16 and 18 to fool the tougher fish.
The Lost Below Mackay
Below Mackay, the flows are still above 500 CFS. Keep your eye on the Idaho River Flows page (use the link on our website) and wait for it to drop to more fishable levels at around 350 CFS.
Floating the Salmon continues to be the best way to experience this fantastic fishery, but there are plenty of good walk and wade opportunities all along the river from above Stanley all the way down to Clayton. If you go, take an assortment of orange and yellow Stimulators in size 12 and 14 and any other high visibility attractor dry. It is not too early to start tossing small hopper patterns as well and you can hear them starting to click all along the river. These fish also love standard beaded nymphs like pheasant tails, prince nymphs, and hare’s ear nymphs, especially the white fish, in size 16 to 12.
South Fork of the Boise
There may still be some big stones about this week, but the big show has come and gone. Also, there are still some Mormon Crickets all along the river. The flows are holding steady at 1600 CFS which is a good level for floating, but some wade fishing opportunities can be found. You may still find some success with big foamy stones pounding the banks, but you may be more successful parking the boat and working the riffles and back channels with small tail water nymphs like WD40s or RS2s, caddis larva, or rubber leg stones. There are some Pink Alberts, size 16, during the day as well and in the evening, be sure to have plenty of Caddis dries and emergers in size 16 and 18.
Gavers Lagoon, Penny, and Lake Creek ponds have been stocked and would make a great location for a family picnic. Come on by the shop for all your family fishing needs!
If you like small stream fishing, this is a great place to use the lightweight Tenkara USA Rodo. The stream has a variety of characteristics from meadow stream to tight, tree-lined pocket water. This stream has some nice wild fish as well as a good number of stocked trout. The water is getting lower and the fish are getting more selective, so take along some smaller dries and approach the runs with caution. A dry dropper rig is very effective for searching the water. Go with a high-vis dry like a small Turk’s Tarantula or a Chubby Chernobyl followed by a Beaded Pheasant Tail, Prince Nymph, Rainbow Warrior, or a Bishop’s Dynamite in size 16 or 18.
Silver Creek Flies: PMDs 16 | Beatis 18 | Callibeatis 16 | Damsel Adults and Nymphs | Zebra Midge in black, red, or olive 16,18 | Pheasant Tails 16,18
Big Wood, Warm Springs, Big Lost, Salmon River Flies: Green Drakes 12 | Stimulators | Chubby Chernobyl | Rubber Legged Stones | Caddis Larva | King Prince | Streamers
South Fork of the Boise Flies: Rubber Legged Stones | Zebra Midge | Caddis Larva | Flash Back Pheasant tails | King Prince | Streamers
Upper Big Lost
The Big Lost
South Fork of the Boise