With the Beaver Creek Wildfire 92% contained and Wagon Days on the horizon, this is looking to be a spectacular start to our late summer fly fishing here in the Wood River Valley. Still, it is fire season in the West, which means that we will see some smoke in the air depending on which way the wind blows. But lately we have seen a lot of blue sky, thanks to the unbelievable efforts of the Firefighters. It will be interesting to monitor the impact of these recent fires around the South Fork of the Boise and the Big Wood to see what kind of long term impact they might have on the fish and the habitat. But in the meanwhile, there is some great late August, early September fishing to be done!
The Big Wood
Before you head north of town to fish, check to make sure the Forrest Service clo- sure from the SNRA headquarters to Galena has been lifted. All other areas on the Wood impacted by the fire are accessible again. The summer flows on the Wood have stabilized at around 120 CFS and the fishing remains consistent throughout the day with good Tricos and Baetis in the morning and a hodgepodge of other mayflies, caddis, and terrestrials the rest of the day. With the low flows, many fish are looking for cover. That said, most all broken water with structure will have oodles of fish eager to take a well presented fly. These fish will sometimes take a standard Parachute Adams, a Parachute Purple Haze, a Para Hopper, or an Elk Hair Caddis, but if you trailed a small brown, olive, black or red Zebra Midge, a Rainbow Warrior, or a Bishop’s Dynamite in size 18 behind it you will double your catch. Also, some fish are sliding back into the slick water at the tail outs to pick off the Tricos and Baetis. These fish are very spooky and you will need to use long leaders and 6X to fool these fish. For flies, use the same patterns you might use on the Creek this time of year. On a final note, with the low flows it is vitally important that you quickly land and release all fish.
The Nature Conservancy plans on starting the restoration of the upper Kilpatrick Pond right after Labor Day. This should be a fascinating project to watch develop and the fishing should remain good throughout this process. At the moment, the morning activity is still productive; however, the Tricos, while present, have slowed down significantly. Baetis are also still present, but the main player on the Creek right now is the Callibatis emergence and spinner fall which typically occurs in the pond and sloughs in the early afternoons. The Callibaetis are small this time of year so you will need to have a complete arsenal of emergers, duns and spinners in size 16 and 18. Even if the wind blows, the Callibaetis will make an appearance. Terrestrials like Hoppers, beetles, and ants are turning fish during the heat of the day as well, especially on windy days.
Big Lost River Upper & Lower
The low flows on the Upper Lost has concentrated the fish in the prime buckets. The problem is you will need to walk a lot between these areas to find success. Furthermore, when you find the fish, they can be tough to fool. Often you get one chance to get these fish to feed and they are done. To fool these fickle feeders, I recommend 9′ leaders to 5 or 6X and small hoppers, ants or parachute adams in size 18 to14. If you can’t find the trout, there are plenty of very large white fish to keep you occupied. The white fish love small beaded nymphs like Zebra Midges and Bishop’s Dynamite in size 18. And with the cooler mornings there is no reason to start too early. Below Mackay, the flows are at 280 CFS and dropping. The morning Tricos are mixed with some Baetis and can bring good numbers of fish to the surface. I prefer to use Trico Hackle Stackers, Olive Gulper Specials with an orange post, or other easy to see patterns to help fight the glare and often broken, foamy water where these fish tend to feed. Post hatch, nymphing is the way to go. Try Euro Nymphing with a heavy nymph followed by a smaller pattern…a beaded Stone fly or San Juan Worm followed by a smaller PT, Zebra Midge, Rainbow Warrior, or Bishop’s Dynamite is a killer combo. For those fish hanging in the margins, try a dry dropper rig with a extra small brown Zebra Midge or WD-40.
South Fork of the Boise
While the Forest Service and BLM are assessing the damage done by the Pony and Elk Complex fire, the area around the South Fork remains closed. You can drive down and check it out, but you can’t fish. If it ever does open again the flows are perfect at 600 CFS. Contact us and we will give you the latest info we have.
The Stanley Area
We are still floating the lower Salmon below East Fork and walk and wading the upper river around Stanley. The fishing has been fun for small trout with the occasional nice cutthroat…and plenty of white fish. We have been using a variety of techniques to fool fish. You can still throw small red Turk’s Tarantulas with a small beaded nymph trailing behind, or you can swing Wooly Buggers through the shallow riffles. You might also consider fishing one the Salmon Rivers many excellent tributaries. Bear Valley Creek and Valley Creek have easy access and good fishing this time of year.
In preparation for the final big weekend of the summer, Fish and Game has stocked our local family friendly ponds. We are a great source of tackle for your bait fishing outing or if you prefer flies, keep it simple with small attractor dries and beaded Zebra Midge.
Shop our House of Harrop Fly selection!
The Big Wood
Beaded Pheasant Tail
|Lower & Upper Big LostPurple HazeGulper SpecialParachute AdamsMorish HopperZebra Midge
|The Stanley Area
Stone FliesPheasant TailBishop’s DynamiteStreamersSpruce MothOlive BuggersBeaded Nymphs
|The South Fork of the Boise
“If I fished only to capture fish, my fishing trips would have ended long ago.” – Zane Grey