Happy 4th of July!
If you are coming up to Sun Valley to enjoy the 4th of July festivities, be sure to add a fly fishing outing to your agenda. First, it is a great way to stay cool as our day time highs go between the high 80s to 90s; and second, the lower than average flows combined with a bit of summer heat has really triggered the bug activity. We have Blue Damsels down at the Creek, Green Drakes on the Wood and Warm Springs, all sizes of Stoneflies on the Salmon, Lost, and South Fork and terrestrials from ants to beetles to Cicadas all over the Valley. It is great time to be a dry fly enthusiast.
Some days you will find decent hatch activity and some days not so much. The warm weather has moved the bug activity to earlier in the day, so getting an early start is not such a bad idea. If you go and find fish feeding on the surface, you will want to have a good selection of Harrop’s Baetis in size 18 and 20, PMDs is size 16, and Callibaetis Duns, Spinners and Cripples in size 14 and 16. Remember these fish are exceptionally pick about drift; you will even see them reject naturals if they don’t look right. Be sure to fish a long leader of at least 12 feet down to 6X and present the fly down or down and across on a slack line drift. If it is an off day for hatch activity, you can still find fish willing to eat on the surface. Have a good selection of ants and beetles from size 12 to 16 for this situation. Also the Damsels are really starting to pick up; you will find fish hunting these tasty morsels around the weed beds in the pond areas. If you stay late, have some tan and olive Caddis is size 16 and 18.
The Big Wood
The heat has held the Wood at flows above 500 CFS, but it is starting to slowly drop and should continue to do so as the week continues. Still, wade with caution; the water is always deeper and stronger than it appears. The Green Drakes are still hatching on the Wood and have been seen on the river right in town. Remember this hatch progressively moves up river a bit each day and by the end of the week they should be North of town. So if you can’t find them on a stretch of river were you saw them the day before, just keep moving up river. You should always have a good selection of Green Drake drys in multiple sizes from 12 to 14 as well as nymphs and cripples in case you encounter this spectacular hatch. When these bugs are around in abundance, the fish focus on them and nothing else. If you are not seeing any Drakes, the fish are still taking big Stimulators and Cicada patterns. You might also use smaller parachute patterns in size 12 and 14, like a Purple Haze or a Parachute Hare’s ear, to get pressured fish to feed. Still, as new water opens as the flows drop, there will be plenty of fish willing to eat big drys over the next week. Nymphing has also been very productive. Green Drake nymphs, Rubber Leg Stones, Prince Nymphs, and pheasant Tails are all working well. Smaller nymphs are already working too like Rainbow Warriors, Bishop’s Dynamite, and Zebra Midges in size 16 and 18. It is a good idea to fish a big and small nymph tandem right now below an indicator or a large dry.
Big Lost River Upper & Lower
The flows on the East Fork of the Lost above Wildhorse Creek and the North Fork are really good right now. Below Wildhorse the river picks up a good bit of volume, but this should become wadable very soon. Take your favorite attractor drys, like Stimulators and Royal Wulffs and an assortment of nymphs and have some fun searching the water. Below Mackay, the flows have been bouncing around but are currently 539 CFS. I would recommend keeping your eye on the Idaho River Flows page (use the link on our website) if you decide to go. The current flows are fishable for very strong waders, but it is difficult to move around the river which limits the access and you should always respect private property. If you go you will find Yellow Stones size 12 and Yellow Sallies size 16. Still, nymphing with a big bug trailed by a small will be most productive. Try a large Prince Nymph, San Juan Worm, or Rubber Legged Stone trailed by a size 16 or 18 Zebra Midge, Rainbow Warrior, or Bishop’s Dynamite.
South Fork of the Boise
This is typically the time the big Pteronarsus hit the upper river and with this warm weather, I expect it to be go time. The flows are holding steady at 1600 CFS which is a good level for floating. If you go, have an assortment of heavy rubber legged stone fly nymphs for the riffles and some big foamy Salmon Fly drys and Cicadas for working the banks. Streamers might pick up a big Bull Trout as well. And have some caddis for the evening hatch.
Magic and Mackay are good options whether you want to float tube, pontoon, our fish from a boat. Be sure to always have a safety whistle and a life jacket. In July, I like to pull Seal buggers and Pops buggers in black or olive off of a sinking line like an intermediate or suspend a team of nymphs off an indicator like Prince nymphs, Copper Johns, or classic Chironomids with a floating line.
Warm Springs is a fun fishery if you prefer water that is not to big and wide. As you drive up the river, there are plenty on pull outs to explore and the wading is much easier than the Wood. Please return all the wild fish in this river. If you wish to keep fish, Fish and Game does stock this river around the bridges. Try fishing big dries like Turk’s Tarantula, Royal Stimulators, or Parachute Hare’s Ears. These fish have been a bit pressured lately, so you might need to drop down in fly size and search the less obvious water. A dry dropper rig is very effective for searching the water. Go with a high-vis dry followed by a Green Drake Nymph, a Prince Nymph, a Rainbow Warrior, a Flashback Pheasant, or Bishop ‘s Dynamite.
If you like your rod bent most of the day, consider booking a day float trip down this incredibly scenic water way. Anglers are catch good numbers of trout and white fish on both drys and nymphs. The flows are perfect for floating and decent along the banks for car hopping and wading certain stretches. If you go, take an assortment of Stimulators and other easy to see drys in size 10 to 14. These fish also love standard beaded nymphs, especially the white fish, in size 16 to 12 and large Stone Fly Nymphs.
Lake Creek, Penny Lake and Gavers Lagoon have been stocked and are a great option for a family outing.
Shop our House of Harrop Fly selection!
Green Drake Duns
The Big Wood
Green Drake Nymph
Rubber Leg Stones
Parachute Hare’s Ears
Green Drake Nymph
Woolly Buggers 8,10
Rubber Leg Stone
Lower & Upper Big Lost
Yellow Stones 12
Yellow Sallies 16
San Juan Worm
Rubber Legged Stone
Zebra Midge 16, 18
Rainbow Warrior 16,18
Bishop’s Dynamite 16,18
Beaded Nymphs 16 -12
Large Stone Flies
South Fork of the Boise
Heavy Rubber Legged Stone Fly Nymphs
Big Foamy Drys
“If I fished only to capture fish, my fishing trips would have ended long ago.” – Zane Grey