A river in reverse is what we are seeing on many of our freestone streams. Hatches that we normally see on lower reaches of the rivers are beginning on the upper half first. The water is more clear and coming into better shape up high, while water in the lower reaches remains high, cold and tinted by tributaries. By mid-week, expect all the rivers to take shape and for hatches to begin exploding from top to bottom.
Big Wood River
What a treat this river has been the last few days as we cast big dries to hungry trout. The coming week should make last week pale in comparison. Insects are beginning to show up all at once and you better have a very complete fly box to take advantage of the coming surface activity.
Stonefly nymphs are lining the banks only inches from the shore, expect a huge emergence of this extra large insect all week. Fish are already keying in on the big artificial. Use Stimulators, Sofa Pillows, Chernobyl Salmon Flies, Madam X, or any of your favorite Salmon Fly patterns. The bigger the fly the better. Fish these on 3X tippets. Smaller diameter tippets will get spun and tangled by the action of the big winged flies through the air.
Little Yellow Sally, the small size 14 stoneflies, are coming out and may be imitated with any small yellow fly, including yellow humpies, small yellow bodied stimulators or any oversized P.M.D. patterns. Look for this fly in the morning and in shady runs during the afternoon hours.
The rain has brought out more Carpenter Ants than we’ve seen in years. All the streamside logs are covered with them and the more the water drops, the more the fish will take these morsels. Few bugs drive trout as crazy as ants do! Big parachute ants or foam bodied varieties are the best choice to imitate this bug. Keep this pattern in mind on the windiest of days.
Cicadas are out in very good numbers this year. This is also a great windy day fly to throw. Royal stimulators and general Cicada patterns are the flies to cast. Just make sure there is a lot of black and orange on your imitation. Fish have already keyed on this insect especially where you find aspens and cottonwoods tight to the bank.
The Yellow Crane Fly is beginning to show and is probably the best pattern to use over fast, heavy water. This insect really likes to spin over the riffles and rapids and when enough of them start doing this in the a.m. fish will splash about the white water trying to grab them.
Big size 14 Blue Winged Olives (Baetis), are hatching in good numbers north of Ketchum, but as the water falls this action should begin to happen throughout the river corridor. Expect to see many other random mayflies as well. You will see yellow, pink and grey mayflies at any hour of the day. A good selection of Parachute Adams will cover all these mayflies.
The Green Drake is a fair-weather insect that likes to emerge on bright, warm sunny days. The weather forecast for the week is just that, warm and sunny. Normally this hatch moves upstream, but expect to see this bug river wide this week. Silver Creek has a huge selection of Green Drake imitations, stop by and get several varieties so you can switch patterns over groups of rising fish.
This river is still going to be high and tough to wade this week, so please use a wading belt and fish with a friend.
Who would have thought that the best hatches on the Creek these days would be Caddis. At least three different varieties of these little tent winged minions can be found at different times of the day. Most of the Caddis are a size 16 to 14 and are found in white and tan. There is also a small brown micro-caddis that has become “THE” masking hatch on the Creek. (A masking hatch is a tiny insect that the fish take, even though there are bigger bugs on the water. It is called a “masking hatch” because many anglers won’t know it’s happening without very careful observation.) The best flies for the caddis are light color bodied Elk Hair Caddis, Goddard Caddis and most flies that are white and size 16.
To make things even weirder, the Brown Drake came back for an encore performance last week, which just means ANYTHING goes this summer! With crazy weather and water flows, be prepared for it all. The weather should stabilize this week and set the Creek into a more traditional morning / evening fishery. The afternoons are the time to look for Callibaetis activity in the sloughs and slow stretches of the Creek.
Green Drake action has been picking up and should continue into the week. This isn’t a long lived hatch on the Creek, so don’t expect to see much of this bug beyond this week.
If you decide to fish the Willows, dress like it was Alaska as far as mosquitoes are concerned. If you hate being bitten, don’t even drive into this area. If you don’t mind putting bug spray on every half hour you may find yourself alone and with some great fishing opportunities.
Little Wood River
The Little Wood is, as always, hardly being fished. The desert water is higher than on normal years, but is fishable. Big dries and bead head droppers are the way to go out here. Watch for rattlesnakes as the weather warms this week. If you want solitude over a busy holiday, this is the place for you.
South Fork of the Boise
The Salmon Flies are moving up the river and should be all the way to the dam by the end of the week. In the meantime boaters that concentrate on the Indian Rock area and slightly down stream will find good action. The South Fork will be very busy over the holiday, but by Wednesday or Thursday the fishing could be spectacular with few crowds, a river full of Salmon Flies and all of it topped off with nice weather.
The Lost is coming into shape and the flows are becoming more fishable and wadable by the day, although it is still high enough to be tough wading and a bit dangerous. Nymphing the slow seams and buckets can be productive with a strike indicator and a two nymph rig.
Copper Basin / East Fork of the Lost River
The high country water has cleared, but it is still moving along. The higher in the system you are the easier the wading and fishing. There is some limited bug activity, but by the end of the week these should be great fisheries. You may want to give the East Fork one more week to become buggier and more wadable, but it can be fished now by strong waders with good casting skills.
Warm Spring / Trail Creek / Lake Creek Lake / Penny and Dollar Lake
All of these are fishing well except Trail Creek which remains tinted with silt. Take the kids or novice anglers to any of these other areas for great fishing, rock skipping, and dog swimming! Pack a picnic and enjoy. (Don’t forget a little mosquito repellant)
Enjoy the next two weeks! The fishing just keeps getting better, and better and betterâ€¦
Basin Precip. Averages
Salmon – 80%
Big Wood – 92%
Little Wood – 117%
Big Lost – 108%
Henry’s Fork – 88%