Goodbye summer, hello fall! There is no greater time in the Rocky Mountains to be a sportsman than the autumn. The crowds of tourists are leaving, the locals are going hunting and the fish are beginning to feel the nighttime chill in the air which will set them off on a feeding frenzy for the next month and a half.
Callibaetis and Hoppers still rule the day on the Silver Lady. Morning insect activity of Trico, Baetis and P.M.D. are waning, but still strong enough to produce a late morning rise. Terrestrials like ants and beetles are also prominent and a great choice to fish this time of the year. The Brown trout population is beginning to stage in deep pools for the upstream migration to favorite spawning areas and with this migration comes fish looking to fatten up for the event. Big Browns can be caught midday with Grasshopper patterns fished with long drifts on heavy tippets. This is also a very effective technique well into the evening hours. Keep your eyes on local weather patterns as a calm and overcast day on the Creek in the fall can mean huge emergences of the Fall Baetis. Have some very tiny Baetis patterns for this event. Size 20, 22 and even 24 are not too small to match this hatch. The fish are rarely picky about the shape and color of this pattern, but will key on the minute size of the insect. Have some Mahogany Duns in your fly box for the first of these hatches in the coming weeks.
Big Wood River
The Wood is starting to produce big fish again as the fall activity begins on this river. Trico action in the morning in some areas is bringing up nice fish and Baetis activity is growing in strength. Gulper Specials are the best fly to imitate this hatch on the Wood. Hoppers are still an excellent way to fish midday and some of the best action can be had fishing basic attractor patterns like Wulffs, Trudes and Stimulators. When things get tough, make sure you have a supply of bead head and non-beaded Pheasant Tail Nymphs. Try fishing these under a strike indicator in sizes 16, 18 and 20. Fishing two sizes in tandem is always effective. Tie on the biggest fly first, then tie 18 inches of tippet to the bend of the hook on this same fly, then attach the smaller fly to this tippet. Set your indicator to one and a half times the water depth and get ready for some great fall fishing. The evening and nighttime occurrence of size 20 flying ants is in full swing. A few areas of the river have had fish rising well into the midnight hour. Your favorite Trico patterns are a good imitation of this little insect. It may be little, but the fish love this ant! If you are looking to stock up some flies for the coming weeks I really encourage the use of the biggest Royal Wulff and H and L Variants, especially as the emergence of the Western Red Quill draws near. You can also fish these big, bushy dry flies all the way up to Thanksgiving day with surprising results! Even after the seasons hatches have dwindled to almost nothing.
The Lost is fishing well with standard “Lost River Nymph Rigs.” This means a nice big bead head fly, like a Prince Nymph, fished in tandem under a strike indicator with your favorite Red Nymph pattern. Beaded San Juan Worms are a great choice. Skating Crane Fly imitations is still effective on some days. Fishing above the reservoir is still good as the Kokanee migration hits the river. Many of these fish are already well upstream, but egg patters and San Juan Worms are still effective in the deep slots and heavy riffles in the area above slack water.
Upper Lost River and Copper Basin
Our best fishery of the season is still producing nice hook ups of Snake River Fine Spotted Cutts and Rainbows. Attractor patterns are the name of the game in these high elevation waters, with some success being had on Pheasant Tail droppers fished shallow under a dry fly. Parachute ants are also a great choice when fishing up here. Try trailing one behind another dry fly, like a size 14 Parachute Adams. This area should become virtually deserted in the next two weeks. It’s a great place to find miles of water to walk without running into another angler.
Little Wood River
Plenty of 8 to 14 inch fish are active on this little stream if you are willing to cover a lot of pools. Grasshoppers are the only fly one needs here right now. The desert stretch remains as deserted as usual with no reports on the activity here. If you go, take plenty of big Hoppers and cover a lot of water.
South Fork of the Boise
Fragmented Pink Albert activity can still be found on the right day, but Hoppers are the best fly right now, especially the Chernobyl variety. With flows at a wadeable level anglers can access plenty of water. If given a choice to fish there now or in coming weeks, one might want to consider waiting for the emergence of Fall Baetis on this river. Certain October and November days can find every fish on the South Fork rising to Baetis, with few to no anglers, seen anywhere.
Warm Springs, Trail Creek, North Fork of the Big Wood, Penny and Dollar Lake and Lake Creek Lake
Many fish are still around to catch on these little bodies of water and with the fall flows there are only limited places for these fish to find deep water, thus making the fish easy to find. Fish attractor patterns and small Hoppers.
Basin Precip. Averages
Salmon – 77%
Big Wood – 89%
Little Wood – 108%
Big Lost – 101%
Henry’s Fork – 88%