The best laid plans of rivers and men often go awry; fly fishing is, after all, a sport rife with uncontrollable variables. Sometimes the wind blows the hatch away, or the rain swells the river and turns it brown. Sometimes the tippet breaks when the hook set is too crisp, or the fish looks and rejects what appears to be a perfect presentation. These moments are the true test of an angler’s grit. You might ask, “What has one caught when one has caught no fish?” The answer is simple: an encounter with a moose, a respite from life, a lesson in humility, a burning desire to return again.
There is only a month left to fish Silver Creek above Highway 20. While the October rains have been great for flows, they have made for very inconsistent fishing. However, the next two weeks appear to be fairly stable. Expect late afternoon Baetis and midge hatches to continue with a few Mahogany Duns. The hatch window is short, but the fish should be feeding with intensity when the bugs are on the water. If there is no apparent surface feeding, try a dry dropper rig with a small beaded olive, brown, or black nymph or midge in size 16-20 and drift it through likely runs.
The rain sent flows skyrocketing up to 800 CFS! As we enter into a drier pattern over the next two weeks, we should see the flows stabilize to a more normal late fall flow around 200 CFS, but this may take a week or two. As the river comes back into shape, expect the river to transition into a winter fishery. The trout will no longer be spread out in all different water types, but will be seeking slower water were they can conserve energy and feed on the main winter food source, midge. In the meanwhile, with the water still on the high side, use some of the bigger bugs in your nymph box: Pat’s Rubber Legged Stone, San Juan Worms, Mops, King Princes, etc. Or try swinging some black, green, or brown buggers.
THE UPPER LOST
This area also received a deluge of rain with the main stem of the Lost cresting at over 1000 CFS. Like the Wood, it should drop quickly, especially up the East Fork. The fishing window is very narrow and snow may make this area impossible to access any day until next spring. Please check with the shop and we can give you the latest about access to the Lost over Trail Creek Pass. If you do go, remember, finding the fish is the name of the game on the Upper Lost, so cover a lot of likely water. Nymphing is the most effective technique with small red or black Zebra Midge, beaded Pheasant Tails,Copper Johns, or Bishop’s Dynamites.
BIG LOST – MACKAY
The flows remain at 53 CFS. At these flows it is imperative that anglers employ stealth as the fish are concentrated and spooky. Also, the fishing window is short; typically there are a few good hours in the afternoon. Once the fish start to feed, small nymphs and dries are most effective. Have a range of Baetis patterns from size 20 to 24 and fish at least 6 or 6.5X tippet on a 9 to 12 foot leader. If you can’t find surface feeders, try fishing a dry dropper rig or Euro Nymphing. For nymphs, try small Baetis style nymphs (18-22), Zebra Midge, or attractor nymphs like the Rainbow Warrior, Iron Lotus, orBishop’s Dynamite in size 16 and 18.
SOUTH FORK OF THE BOISE
The South Fork flows are stable at around 300 CFS. It has been a fairly mild and wet fall to date making for good afternoon hatches. Depending on where you are, you might find a mix of Baetis and midge hatching. If you want to use dries, look for feeding fish in the seams and tailouts. Nymphing with a combination of stoneflies or caddis larva along with a small mayfly or midge pattern will keep you busy catching whitefish and the occasional trout.
South Fork of the Boise
The Big Lost