One of the great challenges of winter fly fishing is dealing with glare. The low angle of the winter sun makes seeing your flies on the water difficult. One solution is to use flies that provide contrast to the low light conditions. It is a great idea to have a selection of High Vis parachute patterns to help when visibility becomes an issue. Also, the right pair of polarized glasses is imperative. The Smith Optics Low Light Ignitorsa lens is hands down becoming my most valued piece of winter fishing equipment. These glasses allow the angler to fish early, late or all winter long without having to sacrifice eye-protection or visibility. Along with all the other essential gear to make a winter fly fishing outing successful, a collection of High Vis Flies and Low Light Ignitor Lenses are tops.
The Big Wood
With highs reaching in the 40s, fishing of late has been quite pleasant. The dry fly enthusiast can already find winter midge in good numbers on certain stretches of the river with a smattering of noses breaking the surface. Still, the peak winter midge activity is a month away. Expect most action to come on subsurface flies fished in the slow seams or deep in the tail outs. The best fishing window is still from noon till 3pm or when the sun leaves the water. If we ever get some snow, overcast, snowy days can be spectacular. In the meanwhile, trail small flies like beaded red, black, or green Zebra Midge in size 16-22, Rainbow Warriors, or Bishop’s Dynamites in size 16 and 18 off of a High Vis Parachute pattern or pinch on indicator. Of course, large nymphs like Rubber Leg Stones in size 12, Beaded Pheasant Tails in size 14, or Prince Nymphs in size 12 or 14 will always take fish. Even a olive, black or brown Woolly Bugger fished on a swing will move fish. As always, winter trout need to be played and released quickly; please learn how to use a Ketchum Release tool.
I highly recommend keeping tabs on the Silver Creek Restoration Project by visiting the savesilvercreek.org web site, the Savesilvercreek Facebook page, as well as our blog. With the current weather conditions, the Nature Conservancy has decided to proceed with their plans to renovate the upper pond. As for fishing, the river down stream of the Highway 20 bridge will remain open until the end of February. The fishing has been slow, but some nice fish can be found around the Point of Rocks access. Fish the long slow runs with a black or olive leech pattern or slow drift nymphs through the likely holding water.
Lower Big Lost River
This is a bit more of a commitment, but it is definitely worth the effort. I recommend staying the night at one of the lodging establishments and dining at Amy Lou’s or Ken’s Club. The fishing is going to be good. Fish this like the Wood in winter with small midge patterns and even some Baetis on snowy, cloudy days. Try small Rainbow Warriors, Bishop’s Dynamites and Zebra Midge and a small indicator in the shallow water or a double nymph rig in the deeper runs. Sometimes these tailwaters fish can be selective and often dropping down in tippet size can make all the difference. I like using light 6.5 Trouthunter fluorocarbon tippet to fool these wily trout.
South Fork of the Boise
The fishing has been surprisingly good. Don’t go and expect the river to look anything like you remember. The multiple mudslides have changed the face of this river. However, the fish seem to like the change. While fishing, look for the deep, slow runs to find the best activity and have a variety of beaded and non-beaded midge patterns as well as caddis larva, stoneflies, and San Juan Worms. You may even find some fish feeding on the surface during the prime fishing window from 1 to 3. As always, take a four wheel drive vehicle with studded snow tires, chains, some food and a sleeping bag when traveling in this area.
The cold weather has slowed this the steelhead fishing almost to a halt. The action should pick up as the days get longer and we get closer to March and April. But 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