With spring only a month away, the days are getting longer and the average air temperatures can swing more than 20 degrees. During a typical fishing outing, the day will start well below freezing, reach into the 40s, and end below freezing as you exit the water. This can pose a problem when trying to dress for a day of fly fishing. The key to hours of comfortable fishing this time of year is layering. Here is my system: I always over size my boots by one size to accommodate the extra pair of socks. Inside the waders, I start with two pairs of socks (one thin, one thick), a pair of long underwear and a pair of SIMMS Guide Fleece Pants. For waders, I always use SIMMS Gore-Tex rather than neoprene. When it is cold out, sweat is the enemy and the breathability of Gore-Tex works best when it is cold outside and warm inside the waders; this inverse temperature relationship ensures good vapor transmission through the Gore-Tex membrane. On top, I start with a SIMMS Solarflex Shirt under a SIMMS Cold Weather Shirt. For the top layer, a SIMMS Windstopper Softshell is perfect and if it is really cold I will add my G3 Guide Jacket. I finish it off with a hat and some fingerless gloves and no matter what the weather, I know I will be able to focus on the fishing and the not the temperature.
The Big Wood
February and March are typically the best winter dry fly months of the season. The winter midge activity on the Wood can be spectacular especially on cloudy, snowy days. No matter what the day gives you, go with a good supply of midge patterns in sizes 16 to 24: Trailing Shuck Midge, Griffiths Gnats, Parachute Adams, beaded Zebra Midge, non-beaded Brassies. If you find surface activity, try a double dry set up with an easy to see dry trailed by a smaller midge imitation. This is a great option in low light conditions. Sometimes switching the small fly in this tandem rig to the non beaded brassie, which will ride just below the surface film, will fool finicky trout. Also, using light Trouthunter tippet in size 6 or 6.5 X is a good choice for problem fish. Of course, for those times when nothing is happening on the surface, try a dry dropper rig with a beaded zebra midge, Rainbow Warrior, or a Bishop’s Dynamite. Deep nymphing will also produce with a double rig and an indicator or Euro Nymphing. For an anchor fly, use a Rubber Leg Stone, a large beaded Prince or Pheasant Tail in sizes 8-14. While we have finally received some good snow in the mountains, access on the Wood is still good; however, I recommend a SIMMS Wading Staff and pair of SIMMS studded Vibram Rubber soled boots to contend with the ice build up on the edges of the river and the silt in the deposition zones.
If you want to get out and fish here, do so before the end of the month. The Creek is still open below the Highway 20 bridge until the 28th of February. Go to the Point of Rocks or Willows access and fish a leech pattern on the swing or slow drift a Zebra Midge or other beaded nymph patterns suspended beneath an indicator through the deep buckets.
Lower Big Lost River
As the days get longer, the fishing window increases making it worth the drive through Craters of the Moon, to Arco, and up to Mackay for a day of fishing. The Midge and Baetis hatches will pick up steam as we head into March, and it is a good idea to be prepared with both in multiple patterns. When scouring the bottom with nymphs, I recommend small Rainbow Warriors, Bishop’s Dynamites and Zebra Midge in size 16-20 and a small indicator or high visibility dry. For double nymph rigs fished in the deeper runs use San Juan Worms, Large Stone Flies, or Prince nymphs trailed by a small nymph. For dries have a good supply of small midge and Baetis and use Trouthunter 6.5X to deceive these decreeing trout.
South Fork of the Boise
The South Fork is still open, and traditionally February and March can be quite good. What impact the mudslides have had on the hatches this spring remains to be seen. Lately the dry fly action has waned, but persistent nymphing will still produce. Still go prepared to fish midge and Beatis dries if the conditions will allow it. But if you want to feel the tug of a trout and nothing is on top, try dredging with Stone flies, Zebra Midge, Baetis Nymphs, or Caddis Larva. Swinging a streamer may produce a big Bull Trout. As always, go with 4WD, chains, and supplies to survive winter conditions in case you get trapped by a mudslide.
Not much new to report in this department; however, the action should pick up as the days get longer and we get into March and April. There is no time like the present to get ready, so come on in and let us help you get set up. We have a complete selection of steelhead flies and Scandi and Skagit style lines.
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“If I fished only to capture fish, my fishing trips would have ended long ago.” – Zane Grey