The best gift you can give this holiday season, to your loved ones or yourself, is some time on the water plying for trout with a fly. December is a magical time to go fly fishing; there is a serenity that can only be found on the banks of a river in winter. Of course, a successful winter fly fishing outing starts with preparation. First, it will be cold so don’t bother going early. The morning temps are going to average in the teens to single digits; wait for it to warm up to somewhere near or above freezing. Double up on the long underwear, layer with lots of Windstopper fleece and wrap yourself in Gore-tex and you should be comfortable for a few hours on the stream. There are some other items that that a winter angler should not be without as well(that also make excellent stocking stuffers): fingerless gloves, pocket warmers, extra clothes, balaclava, neck gaiter, Ketchum Release tool, thermos, flask. Remember, when winter fly fishing, the more prepared you are the more fun you will have.
Big Wood River
This is our winter jewel. The fishing can be really fun, especially on the cloudy, snowy days. The bugs this time of year are simple; have a variety of midge wets and drys. Your best bet on sunny days is running a dry dropper with a beaded Zebra midge in red or black, a Rainbow Warrior or a Bishop’s Dynamite in size 18 or 20. On cloudy days, look for heads in the slow runs where the fish like to concentrate in the winter and fish small beadless brassies beneath a midge cluster. Big and ugly bugs like rubber leg stones or Woolley Buggers can lure fish to feed as well. Remember to handle winter trout with care. In fact, the best method is to not handle the fish at all, but to release them quickly with a Ketchum Release. The fish stay in the water and your hands stay dry.
The Big Lost
If you are willing to make the trip through Arco to Mackay, the Lost fishes very well this time of year. The flows are low and the fish will be concentrated in the prime lies. Fish it much the same way you would approach the Wood. Small tailwaters flies like a WD40, Miracle Midge or Zebra Midge will produce fish. Expect a decent number of fish feeding on the surface on cloudy days.
The reports have been favorable for steelhead below the Pahsimeroi River. This would be a good time to come check out our selection of Switch and Spey rods. We also have a great selection of steelhead flies and steelhead specific lines.
South Fork of the Boise
This is another great winter fishery for the more adventurous angler. Be sure to have the appropriate vehicle to make it down and back out of the canyon now that winter weather has taken its hold. Again this river is going to fish well with small midge imitations or large ugly bugs. If you hunt around you will find feeders on the surface during the prime time in the afternoons.
Silver Creek below Highway 20
The Conservancy is closed but the creek below highway 20 is still open. If you scout around the willows or Point of Rocks you are bound to find some fish feeding on a smattering of midge. Leeches can also take fish this time of year. For flies, bring your standard midge patterns and approach these fish from above with long leaders and fine tippet.
Many men go fishing their entire lives without knowing it is not fish they are after.~ Henry David Thoreau
photo by Bryan Huskey