“An undisturbed river is as perfect as we will ever know, every refractive slide of cold water a glimpse of eternity.” ~Thomas McGuane
This time of year, the rivers seem undisturbed. Most casual anglers have been pulled away to other business and the rivers are left empty. The cool air and water, along with the shorter days, has triggered a new wave of hatch activity. And the fish feed with renewed vigor. Each September day presents the river as perfect as we will ever know.
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 insect’s 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 more Mahogany Duns as well. This bug indicates that fall has arrived, and winter is just around the corner. Once they show up, the fish will key on them, so be sure to have several in your box.
The Wood continues to fish exceptionally well. The flows are low and the water is cooling with the recent drop in day time temperatures. This will trigger the Hecuba (aka Red Quill) hatch, the last big of the year, and the fish will be 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, Iron Lotus or Rainbow Warrior behind a hopper.
Upper Big Lost
Like the Wood, there will be 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.
The Lost Below Mackay
The fishing remains very good in the late morning into the afternoon. The Tricos have peaked on the Lost and are on their 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.
This is a good time of year to head up to Stanley. 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.
South Fork of the Boise
Now that the flows have dropped, 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.
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!
Silver Creek Flies: Beatis 18 | Callibeatis 16 | Hoppers | Damsel | Beetles | Ants | Zebra Midge in black, red, or olive 16,18 | Pheasant Tails 16,18 | Baetis Nymphs
Big Wood, Big Lost, Salmon River Flies: Grasshoppers | Rusty Spinners | Spruce Moth | Elk Hair Caddis | Stimulators | Chubby Chernobyl | Parachute Adams | Rubber Legged Stones |Iron Lotus | Pheasant Tails | Bishop’s Dynamite | King Prince | Streamers
South Fork of the Boise Flies: Pink Alberts | Flavs | Caddis | Hoppers | 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