September has arrived with more of the unpredictable weather that has defined our summer season. The upcoming week should offer some sunshine and warm temperatures accompanied by possible thunderstorms. Seasoned anglers know this time of year to bring along a favorite rain slicker, as it may or may not be called upon to protect you from possible afternoon rain. Either way – it pays to be prepared! Dry fly fishing will be very good over the next six weeks, depending on weather, with the active hatch windows being short but productive. Baetis, October Caddis, Red Quills, Callibaetis and Mahogany Duns highlight this period as we move toward late fall. Hit the rivers and get the goods while you can!
Big Wood River
The Wood (195cfs) will offer very good fishing over the next few weeks. With the emergence of the Red Quill, the Green Drake’s autumn cousin, dry fly fishing with large patterns can be as good as any time of the year. There are many excellent imitations offered in the store, but if you search through your fly box for any leftover Green Drake patterns, you’ll be glad you did. Any large (size 12) dun patterns which are on the green/grey/rust side of the color spectrum will serve the fly caster well, especially if fished in the middle of the day. It will also be effective to use Baetis as they will appear in the late morning and continue on and off through the late afternoon. A very good backup pattern will be the October Caddis which will appear sporadically throughout the system and has the ability to pull even the most selective fish off the bottom. Grasshoppers are still very much present in the watershed and can be combined with a dropper to elicit strikes from subsurface feeders.
Silver Creek offers a number of solid opportunities for the September Fisherman. Baetis play a key role and fish will focus on them, aggressively in some circumstances. The usual downstream presentation is necessary with these petite mayflies and one may find them blanketing The Creek in the morning and into the midday. Callibaetis fished on the surface, especially in the wind chop, will be very effective in early September as well as the nymph stage fished motionlessly underneath. If fish are refusing the subtler presentations, try casting and retrieving with one to two inch strips. This can often convince fish to strike. The Mahogany Dun will also be making an appearance on these spring creek waters. The Mahoganies, generally in size 16, are one of the most beautiful insects we have the privilege of casting over the course of the year. These burgundy, grey winged mayflies are serious trout food and the fish will become less selective as October nears. Hoppers, during midday, continue to be a smart selection, especially fished in their mature size (12s and 10s).
Big Lost River
The Big Lost, flowing at 354cfs, is fishing well. Tricos will continue to be prevalent in stretches, primarily in the morning hours. Craneflies are also still fluttering about as the summer ends and can be an enjoyable selection when skated across the surface in a quartering-down fashion. Nymphing will be the most productive tackle here and double nymph/pupa combinations can lead to an excellent day’s fishing. Baetis will be an active fish attractor as well. The Kokanee are running above the reservoir which adds an interesting twist to a day of pursuing trout. Don’t overlook these scarlet targets; they put up a very good fight!
Upper Big Lost / Copper Basin
The alpine feeder streams of the Big Lost drainage are still fishing well but will be declining as night time temperatures decrease. Attractor patterns such as Wulffs, Trudes and Madam Xs are finding fish as well as Black Flying Ants, Grasshoppers and Parachute Adams. Crowds are dwindling in the higher elevation which creates miles of elbow room for the adventurous fisherman. Even in September, it continues to be worth the dirt road drive.
South Fork of the Boise
The South Fork of the Boise was dropped to 601cfs on September 1st and is now at very good walk and wade levels. Baetis will be a prime pattern as fish stock up for their late-fall and wintertime pseudo-hibernations. Caddis will be on the menu as well and streamer fishing still presents the angler with opportunities at a truly gargantuan rainbow and bull trout.
The Salmon is fishing as well as any local river currently. Caddis patterns are bringing fish to the surface and the droppers hung beneath are resulting in some very happy fishermen downstream of Stanley. Recently, Idaho Fish and Game counted 230 Red Chinook salmon in the one mile stretch between the Redfish Hatchery and the Buckhorn Bridge. It is a spectacular sight to witness, rivaling the spawning grounds of Alaska. If you are fortunate, you may even spot a Sockeye headed upriver as some fish have been seen passing Redfish Lake Creek on their way to Petit or Alturas Lake. Did I mention the majestic fall views?