May 27th is Opening Day in Idaho!
Fly-tying benches have been cleaned and put in order, and fly boxes stuffed with this years arsenal. Reels have slick new lines on them and their insides have a fresh coat of grease. Float tubes are being filled from their winter sag â€“ to summertime tight. Waders were patched with the first signs of snowmelt, and long sleeve fishing shirts have emerged from the back of the closet. In backyards favorite fishing dogs pace with spring fever and the eager anticipation of watching their masters dance with leaping fish while cool water races under their fur. Lunches are packed more carefully than they will be all year, and knots get tied with delicate precision. Trucks are fired up, tents are staked, and the first whoops and hollers of the season resonate up and down each river valley. â€œFish On!â€ â€“ â€œI got one!â€ â€“ â€œGet the net!â€ are the battle cries. Opening Day is Here! Friends and family gather on the stream to once again take their place on the biggest stage of the season. For some, a lost monster trout represents a tragedy, for others landing one represents high drama, for others this day is a comedy, a romance, or in most cases, all of these. If â€œAll the worlds a stage.â€ Then this is the best stage of them all, the best day of the year! Enjoy every minute of opening day in Idaho!
Wow! What a spring this has turned into around the Wood River Valley. Our huge snow pack has been trying to squeeze out of the mountains all at once as daytime temperatures remained in the mid-eighties the past few weeks. With that said, be sure that we wonâ€™t be fishing any of our freestone streams anytime soon. There is a cooling trend starting though, so expect temperatures closer to 60 for the opener. The heavy runoff has left us tailwaters, spring creeks and stillwaters as the only games in town. The good news is local reservoirs are fishing extremely well. We are in for an interesting opener based on where people plan on doing their fishing. Silver Creek may be the best river to fish, although low water conditions there and recent flooding that has deposited silt in odd areas will make the Creek a serious challenge if there gets to be too much pressure. You can check out a slideshow of the latest conditions by clicking HERE.
The Creek is the clearest water in the valley, but be warned, the river is low and has seen some changes with the spring flooding. The areas you have fished productively in the past may be a bit different than what you are used to seeing. The most successful anglers will be those that get a chance to scout the river and know where they want to be when the hatches come off. PMD and Baetis are the two main insects showing right now. Expect mid, to late morning occurrences of these bugs and if we get cloud cover expect some decent afternoon activity. Right now, the forecast is for a cool weekend with some clouds. This could mean great hatches, despite the fact it wonâ€™t be tee-shirt weather. If the day does get hot and the river goes quiet, grab some lunch and a cool drink and wait for the evening show which will probably include some Caddis activity. Terrestrials, like ants and beetles are also a good choice for early season fly choices. It seems as though last year many anglers were abusing this spring creek between hatches with nymphs and streamers, making for even spookier fish and with respect, taking a bit of the nuance away from what may be the best dry fly stream in the country. Hopefully this year, patience will prevail and the Creek will again find itâ€™s place in fly-fishing legend. The sloughs are also pretty low right now and the fishing in here will most likely start hot and get tricky really fast. There is also no reason to think that the fishing on the lower half of the Creek, through the Willows and Point of Rocks wonâ€™t be even better than the Conservancy waters as more shade and depth is going to be what the fish are looking for. Priest Rapids is going to be another area to consider for fewer crowds and clear water. No sign of the Drake near Picabo yet, but with warm days like these, we should see another early hatch this season. It may be reminiscent of two years ago, when the Drakes hatched in rain like conditions for a week or so, before the real show got started. Remember, we are all going to see a lot of our fellow angler this weekend so put on a smile, stay patient and enjoy the camaraderie of opening day!
Big Wood River
Not much to say here. Stay away from the Wood, it is big and dangerous right now and there is still not enough clarity to find good side channel fishing. The good news is, once the runoff subsides we are going to have a brand new river chiseled out of the old bed. We all get to spend the season relearning the runs and exploring the river like itâ€™s brand new to us all!
South Fork of the Boise
The South Fork is currently flowing at 6,500 CFS. To give you and idea of what this means, I floated about 13 years ago with a CFS of 3,500 and the river was well into the trees. Currently all the campgrounds in the canyon are underwater and there is little to no place to fish. To also put this in perspective, the river has not flowed at more than 4,000 CFS in over 15 years!
Big Lost River
Below the dam the river is flowing at over 1,000 CFS making this a canal and not a river per se. Mackay Reservoir though is full and generally fishes really well this time of year. If you have a drift boat or power boat the backside of the reservoir can provide nice action where the willows and water meet. A small Prince Nymph stripped through the water will imitate a juvenile Kokanee really well, which the big reservoir rainbows focus on in the spring and early summer in this body of water.
Upper Lost River and Copper Basin
These waters are normally on par with what the Big Wood is doing. When the Wood becomes fishable they will also.
Little Wood River
The Little Wood below the Silver Creek confluence will be dirty, but could produce o.k. fishing with the emergence of the huge Salmon Flies in coming weeks. It may be worth exploring if the hatches on Silver Creek arenâ€™t cooperating. Above the reservoir is not worth your time yet.
Completely flooded out, but Bass are cruising the banks and working the surface. A boat or float tube is necessary, but this could be a great June fishery. (No Gasoline Motors Allowed)
Magic is fishing really well throughout the day. A float tube or boat will get you great access to lots of productive water. Strip buggers or midge larvae imitations very slowly.
Little Wood Reservoir
This would be my choice for catching lots of fish. This quiet reservoir is full of eager twelve inch rainbows. Strip small flies very close to the bank, or submerged willows.