After being closed for 59 days, general trout fishing will open on May 29th and it appears that most local rivers will be fishable. Silver Creek will be low and clear, while the local freestones should be manageable as they flow at relatively low to moderate levels. The South Fork of the Boise is pumping at nearly 1600 cfs which lends it to drift boating while the alpine streams are still being colored by high mountain snow run-off. The Salmon River just might be the sleeper of the week as it continues to drop toward a very fishable level. The weather forecast for opening week looks inclement, although Sunday and Monday do appear to be mostly sunny with a few clouds and warm temperatures. All in all, expect it to be a busy weekend on most waterways.
Similar to most opening weeks, expect The Creek to fish well. Baetis (size 20-22) and PMDs (size 16) will be the most visible insects roaming the spring creek and expect these bugs to be even more abundant if the sun comes out and warms the air and water. On the still water sections of the Preserve, look for midday Callibaetis emergences (size16) in tandem with midges (both black and cream in sizes 20-24). If the weather takes a turn for the worse, try terrestrials such as ants and beetles to catch the large cruisers while they are still relatively uneducated. Casting toward undercut banks or sight fishing these large bugs to trout mid-stream can be very effective early in the season. Although minimal, a few Green Drakes may be seen mid day.
Big Wood River
The Big Wood will be fishable on opening day barring any rainfall induced mudslides out Warm Springs. Although unlikely, local anglers have seen several days since the 2007 Castle Rock Fire where silt from Warm Springs blew out the Big Wood below the confluence. In all likelihood, the Big Wood should fish relatively well over the next week. Large nymphs such as Princes, Flashback Pheasant Tails and Green Drake Nymphs (sizes 10-16) should turn the heads of unsuspecting rainbows. Large mayfly duns such as Parachute Adams, Adams, Green Drakes and Purple Hazes (sizes 12-16) along with stonefly imitations such as Stimulators (sizes 12-16) should produce nicely. Wading on the Big Wood River in the early season can be hazardous so make sure to wear your wading belt and consider using a wading staff if you enter the river.
Big Lost River
The Lost should also be fishable this week. At its current flow, the river should be wadeable and rather easy to navigate. Large nymphs, similar to what those used on the Big Wood River, will be effective selections as well as San Juan Worms and Cranefly Pupae imitations. As with all Rainbow Trout habitats in the early spring, avoid gravel beds that have been dug out or cleaned by spawning fish as there may still be a few ‘bows on or near their redds. On a few occasions over the years, the flow of the dam has been increased on opening day so it is best to check the stream flows before making the journey over Trail Creek Summit.
The Basin will be affected by the remaining runoff more significantly than our lower elevation freestones. It is likely that it may be another week or two before the river is fishable and safe to wade. Generally this alpine stream system comes into its own sometime in the latter part of June. You can expect this freestone to be fishable earlier in the season than usual, but it is too high and too deep to produce well this week.
South Fork of the Boise
The SFB is flowing at nearly 1600 cfs which makes for exciting drift boating but dangerous wading. At this flow and this early in the season, large nymphs, streamers and wooly buggers are the best bet. Insect hatches will intensify closer to the middle of June for this waterway.
The Salmon River is an interesting prospect for opening week as the current flow – which has dropped everyday for a week – is now resting at approximately 40% of its 80 year average. Most years see the Salmon increasing in flow through the end of May and beginning of June but at the moment, the flow is becoming very fishable. The farther downstream you go, the better the fishing, especially with warmer temps near Challis. Whether drift boating or walk and wade fishing, use large attractor patterns such as Stimulators, Royal Trudes, Salmon Flies or Golden Stones (sizes 8-14) to elicit strikes from traveling trout. Try combining the attractors with large nymphs (size 12-16) used as droppers. The fishing on the Salmon should be above average and will only improve as the summer approaches