“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” ~ Albert Einstein
Any fool can tell you that one of the wonders of fly fishing is that there is always more to know and understand. January 9th and 10th, the Western Idaho Fly Fishing Expo in Boise is a great opportunity to build on your fishing understanding. There will be a diverse range of information to absorb from stillwater mastery with Phil Rowley to Tenkara simplicity with Craig Mathews. Also our own guide and captain of Fly Fishing Team USA, Bret Bishop, will be sharing lessons learned at the last World Championships and how they apply to local waters. If you go, please stop by the Silver Creek Outfitters booth as well and say hello to Greg Loomis and Bryan Huskey. We look forward to seeing you there!
The Nature Conservancy is closed this time of year, but the fishing below the Highway
20 bridge will remain open until the end of February. With the relatively warmer temperatures of late, the ice on the edges of the Creek should clear. The long slow runs are ideal for swing a black or olive leech pattern or slow drift nymphs through the deeper buckets. You might even see some fish surface feeding on midge.
THE BIG WOOD
There is a good amount of snow along the banks of the Wood, but the water remains relatively ice free from just north of Ketchum down to the East Fork Bridge. The trouble remains finding a good parking place followed by walking down to the water through the deep snow. However, anglers willing to put in the effort can find water that has not been pressured, especially now that the holidays have passed. As always, the best fishing window is from noon till 3 PM. Some winter midge are already active, but it is mostly a nymphing scenario this time of year. I like 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. Surprisingly, large nymphs will also work. Try Rubber Leg Stones in size 12, Beaded Pheasant Tails in size 14, or Prince Nymphs in size 12 or 14. Focus your efforts on the slow deep water and generally were you find one fish there will be many others.
SOUTH FORK OF THE BOISE
The flows remain at just over 300 CFS. This time of year, the canyon is quite cold, and frankly, January can be a bit slow on the South Fork. February and March, however, can be some of the best fishing of the winter season as the sun hangs a little longer in the sky. Nevertheless, there is still some great fishing potential while the sun is on the water. As always, when traveling into the canyon take a four wheel drive vehicle with studded snow tires and chains and check the weather. 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. A persistent angler may even find some fish feeding on the surface during the prime fishing window.
BIG LOST BELOW MACKAY
It takes a little over two hours to make the trek from Ketchum to Mackay, by way of Craters of the Moon and Arco…but the scenery and the fishing can be spectacular. Fish this like the Wood, 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. With flows holding steady at 77 CFS, the fish will be concentrated. Sometimes these tailwater fish can be selective and often dropping down tippet size can make all the difference. Try 6.5 or 7 X Trouthunter fluorocarbon tippet to fool these weary trout.
South Fork of the Boise