The best way to contend with the smoky, hot days of August is to wet a line in one of our local fisheries. The fish don’t mind the intermittent smoke, and some anglers believe the obscured sun actually improves the dry fly fishing. To date, the August fishing has been true to form with the best fishing coming early and late, but already there is a hint of fall in the air. The days are getting shorter and the morning temps are cool enough to require a light jacket. The fish are keenly aware of this change and should begin feeding with more desperation as August transitions into Fall. The hopper fishing continues to improve on all our rivers and while the Tricos are beginning to wind down on Silver Creek they are really just getting started on our freestones and tailwaters.
The morning hatch on the Creek is still a mixed bag of insects including the usual suspects: Tricos, Baetis, Callibaetis, and PMDs. But the intensity of the Tricos is waning and the other players can show or not depending on the day. Remember the Tricos, like most all hatches on the Creek, move from the lower reaches to the upper as the hatch matures. That said, you might find that the Trico Spinner fall is best in the upper reaches of the Preserve this time of year even if it is weak in the S- Curves or the Pond. The mid day fishing will still be very good, especially on windy days. It is time to start tossing hoppers to all those possible hiding places. You will find the best success if you cover a lot of water. Hoppers usually get a take on the first presentation. Of course, beetles and ants are also a good option. The afternoon Callibaetis will really pick up as well and this is one of those hatches that the wind has very little impact on. You will find this stillwater bug in the sloughs and throughout the pond and lower reaches of the Creek. It is easily identified when it is bouncing just above the water. This time of year, the smaller Harrop’s Callibaetis in size 16 and 18 are most effective. The evenings can also be hit or miss but the in the twilight before dark expect to see micro caddis, PMDs, and Baetis.
Big Wood River
The Wood continues to fish really well. We seem to have avoided the typical August malaise and are already transitioning back to an all day fishery. This may be because the fish sense the coming winter with the shorter days and cool mornings. Of course, in the mid morning Tricos can be found in certain stretches of the lower and middle river along with Baetis, Micro Caddis, and Rusty Spinners. Even some Red Quills were spotted last week, truly a sign of fall. This myriad of insects can be matched with an assortment of standard flies like Parachute Adams, Purple Haze, and Gulper Specials in size 14, 16, and 18. If the bugs disappear as the day heats up, this is the time of year when hoppers and ants can really save the day. Trailing a small size 16 or 18 Zebra Midge in red or black, a pheasant tail, Bishop’s Dynamite, or Rainbow Warrior can also be deadly. The evening is still holding steady with good numbers of caddis and eager trout.
Don’t be surprised if you see more and more anglers casting rods sans reels. Tenkara is sweeping through the Valley and the Wood is the perfect river for this traditional Japanese technique.
Big Lost River below Mackay
Now would be a good time to head over the hill and fish this tailwater gem. With flows around 340 CFS, access is beginning to open up, but wading can still be a challenge. The fishing is best early through mid day with good numbers of Tricos, Baetis, and Crane Flies. When the morning hatch is done the fishing can really slow down, but searching the riffles and deep water with nymphs can be productive. Be sure to have Crane Flies, Tricos ( size 22-24), Baetis (size 18-20), PMDs (size 16) and Larimer’s Yellow Sallies (size 14.5) and an assortment of nymphs such as King Princes (size 12, 14), San Juan Worms, Flashback Pheasant Tails (size 14, 16), and Bishop’s Dynamite (size 14, 16, 18). In the evening, caddis are the main course and the last hour of light can be really productive.
Upper Big Lost
Not much has changed here. The reports from this area are a mixed bag. The upper reaches of the North, East and West Fork will be really low. You will be better off fishing the lower river. The cold mornings will be slow. Expect the fishing to pick up around midday. The Whitefish are easy pickin as well as a few quality Rainbows, Cutbows, Brook Trout, and Cutthroat. To be successful, just keep moving around to find the fish; search the water with drys and dry dropper rigs and you will find the fish. These fish are opportunistic feeders and will usually give an attractor dry fly a try, but they may only give you one chance. Take along an assortment of your favorite attractor dry flies and nymphs as well as your standard parachute patterns: Parachute Hare’s Ear, Turk’s Tarantulas, PMX, Royal Wulffs, King Prince, Flashback PTs and Zebra Midge.
As of this moment, Stanley is still open as well as highway 75 and 21 despite the fire… and the fishing along the Salmon is still good. For flies, take Large Yellow and Orange Stimulators and attractors such as Turk’s Tarantula. Also, the Spruce Moth is still a major player and can provide excellent dry fly fishing. As you travel the length of this river, there are plenty of pull offs to park your car and search this wonderful fishery.
Warm Springs & Trail Creek
These rivers are low and provide a great alternative for those seeking a small stream experience but don’t have the time to drive over the hill to the Upper Lost. Fish and Game has stocked these rivers around the bridges and anywhere the rivers near the road. If you wish to seek wild fish, just leave the beaten path and explore. Expect to see PMDs, Pink Alberts, Caddis, Small Stone flies, and some Spruce Moths.
South Fork of the Boise
The best time on this river is the last hour before dark.
Of course while waiting for this magic hour you might as well pound the water with hoppers and droppers. The flows are holding steady at 1800 CFS and fishing from a boat is going to be your best option. Still, you are better off parking the boat and working the banks and side channels. Expect to find caddis in the late afternoons into the evenings as well as and Pink Alberts and Flavs. Also, deep nymphing with caddis larva, PTs, and zebra midge can be a good option when no bugs present. You might try ripping a streamer through some deeper runs in search of a Bull Trout or an aggressive Bow.
If you want to beat the summer heat, you might try hiking into one of our numerous Alpine Lakes. The midge hatches can be prolific and on windy days ants, beetles, and spruce moths will find their way on to the surface. Scan the edges for cruisers or look for fish congregated at the inlets and outlets. For an idea about where to go just inquire in our shop.
Everyone should believe in something. I believe I’ll go fishing.~ Thoreau
photo by Bryan Huskey