With June on the horizon, we are heading into our typical weather roller coaster with some days reaching only the high 50s and others stretching into the 80s. Over night lows have been chilly of late, which is slowing the runoff and dropping the river flows on the freestone fisheries. With unpredictable weather comes unpredictable hatches; however, the warmer weather slated for later in the week does bode well for those on the Brown Drake watch down at the Creek. While the hordes of Memorial weekend campers have departed the Willows and Point of Rocks area, many anglers have set up camp in anticipation of this spectacular hatch. With the advent of social media, it will be hard to keep this one a secret for long once the hatch gets started. At the moment, the wait and watch continues. The initial onslaught of opening day anglers on the Nature Conservancy portion of the Creek will subside and June is typically a solitary experience on the Creek. The fish should remain relatively naive for another week or so, but they will wise up and get tougher to fool until the hatches of summer kick in to gear. The Wood looks fantastic right now and anglers willing to move about and wade with extreme caution will find soft water and fish, but the flows still limit access. In general, we are expecting the fishing this June to be really good with lower than average flows on our local fisheries.
Veterans of the Creek were flabbergasted at the number of cars parked at the Nature Conservancy head quarters all the way down to Kilpatrick Bridge over the weekend. It had been a while since we had such beautiful weather on opening weekend, and the fisherman came out in droves. Despite the crowds, the fishing didn’t disappoint and the rest of June should be back to normal with just a few local anglers and some weekend warriors. If you go expect to find decent Baetis (size 18) starting mid to late morning with a smattering of PMDs (size 16) and some Callibaetis (size 16) in the afternoon depending on where you are on the Creek. This time of year, the fish are not as picky, but you will still need to use your typical down or across and down stream Silver Creek presentation with a perfect drift when fishing drys on classy water. When there is a bit of chop on the water all the rules change and presentations in all directs will work. The stronger afternoon winds will knock some terrestrials in the water so it is not to early in the season to hunt the likely water with beetles and ants. Dry dropper rigs with a beaded pheasant tail or other Baetis imitation in size 16 or 18 with be very productive. And streamer fishing this time of year can be really fun.
The Big Wood and and Tributaries
The Wood has dropped to under 700 CFS, and the clarity is good. As long as Warm Springs and Trail Creek keep dropping and stay clear, so will the Wood. The cool weather has slowed the runoff, but when warm weather returns the river will spike again due to the remaining high altitude snow. That said, if you do want to fish the Wood be very careful. I would not attempt to cross the river at this level, and only wade in the soft water along the edges with a wading belt, or better yet simply wet wade. You will find the fish right next to the bank this time of year conserving their energy and letting the heavy water flush on through. Fishing the side channels is also very good this time of year. Try fishing big dries like Turk’s Tarantula or Royal Stimulators with a large beaded Pheasant Tail or Green Drake nymphs along the banks or drop offs. Streamers, like Black, Olive, or Brown Woolly Buggers in size 8 or 10 are also very effective this time of year. Of course, double nymph rigs with an indicator off a suspended sighter, like a Thingamabobber, will produce. Go with a big and ugly Rubber Leg Stone followed by a Prince Nymph, a Rainbow Warrior, or Bishop ‘s Dynamite.
Big Lost River
Below Mackay, the flows have jumped again to about 470 CFS which is a difficult, but not impossible level to fish. My guess is that this river will continue to rise, so if you plan to fish here, keep your eye on the Idaho River Flows page (use the link on our website). The upper Lost will follow the same pattern as the Wood. Expect to be able to fish the East and West Fork by the middle of June with it really coming into great shape in July. The Copper Basin portion of the Lost will be the first area to start looking for fishable water in the next couple of weeks.
South Fork of the Boise
The South Fork is holding steady at 1600 CFS. This is a good level for floating. The fish will be tight to the banks and concentrated in the side channels. This time of year is typically a bit slow on the South Fork. This fishery will get good once the Salmon Fly hatch begins later in June. If you go, have an assortment of heavy rubber legged stone fly nymphs for the riffles and some big foamy drys for working the banks. Streamers might pick up a big Bull Trout as well.
Magic, Mackay or Duck Valley are good options right now whether you want to float tube, pontoon, our fish from a boat. Be sure to always have a safety whistle and a life jacket. And watch out for those high winds which can blow this time of year. In May and June, I like to pull Seal buggers and Pops buggers in black or olive off of a sinking line like a type 3 or 5 or suspend a team of nymphs off an indicator like Prince nymphs, Copper Johns, or classic Chironomids with a floating line. This also a good time to consider going to CJ Strike to chase carp or the Bruneau Sand Dunes for bass and bluegill. Whatever you decide to do, come on by the shop and we will hook you up with the best flies for your situation.
Many men go fishing their entire lives without knowing it is not fish they are after.~ Henry David Thoreau
photo by Terry Ring