The Sun Valley Symphony season begins at the end of this week and is a true Sun Valley summer tradition. Another summer tradition is the shift in the best fishing hours from the middle to early and late in the day. The fish and the bugs simply like the most pleasant time of the day, and with the lower than average flows on some of our rivers, along with day time highs in the 80s to 90s, the pleasant times have shifted to the morning and evenings. Along with the shift in the best fishing times, the bugs tend to shrink this time of year. Smaller flies like Tricos, Midge, Micro Caddis and Baetis become mainstays of the trout diet. This is not to say the fish won’t eat a big meal; hoppers are clicking all over the valley and are a good option when fishing during the heat of the day.
The Trico hatch seems to have spread throughout the entire system from the walk and wade stretch, down through the float tube only waters on the Nature Conservancy and into Lower Kilpatrick Pond. Still, some days are stronger than others depending on the wind and air temps. On the calm, windless days, expect to see the Ticos on the water when the air temps get between 60 and 70 degrees. As usual, you need to be prepared with a slew of bugs to match the bug stew down on the Creek. In the morning, you might want to start with a Harrop’s Callibaetis spinner or Trico Dun. As the morning progresses, Harrop’s Baetis Spinners as well as PMD spinners and Duns might take fish. Once the Trico spinner fall begins, switch to a Poly Wing Trico Spinner in white or black or a Harrop’s Trico Spinner. As the Tricos dissipate you may need to work back through the progression of flies mentioned above to stay on fish. Close observation of the fish and the bugs will help you decide which pattern to use. Of course, remember to fish down or down and across with a long leader to 6X on a slack line cast. These fish are very particular this time of year. When the morning activity subsides and you still want to find fish, look for the Blue Damsels to take the stage as well as Callibaetis Duns and Spinners. Of course, beetles, ants, and hoppers are also good midday. In the evening, Caddis and PMDs, both 16 and 18 can be abundant. Keep in mind, with the onset of the Trico hatch, the number of anglers increase as well, especially in the Preserve. Please use common sense and courtesy when fishing around other anglers.
The Big Wood
The water on the Wood is in perfect condition for wading freely about and the air and water temps are perfect for wet wading. SIMMS Guard Sock is a perfect compliment to your wading boots when not wearing your waders. If you prefer a more minimalist approach, the Streamtread Sandal might be perfect for you. The surface and subsurface action is good from morning into the early afternoon, but it will slow down during the hottest part of the day until the evening caddis action. Depending on where you are on the river, you will see some Pink Alberts, Western Quills, Yellow Sallies, Crane Flies, Tricos and/ or Baetis. If you find surface feeders, try smaller size 14 or 16 parachute patterns like Purple Haze, Parachute Hare’s Ear, or Gulper Specials in olive or tan. You may need to match the hatch more closely as well with some of your Silver Creek patterns on the more selective trout. As for the Large attractor drys that worked so well earlier in the month, they might turn fish but often get a short strike. Still a dry dropper set up can be deadly. Try a red or black Zebra Midge, a beaded pheasant tail, a Rainbow Warrior, or a Bishop’s Dynamite in size 16 or 18 trailed behind a high floating dry. Straight up nymphing with an indicator or European style can be very effective this time of year as well.
Big Lost River Upper & Lower
Anglers who are willing to walk long distances between fishable water will still find fish in the Copper Basin, but as the flows drop, it is time to start focussing your fishing on the lower East Fork, below the Wildhorse and the North Fork confluence. Take your favorite attractor drys, like yellow and orange Stimulators and Royal Wulffs and an assortment of nymphs and have some fun searching the water. Also have some smaller drys, like Parachute PMDs and Purple Haze in size 16 and 18 to fool the tougher fish. Below Mackay, the flows are dipping below 500 CFS for the first time this summer and continuing to drop. Strong waders might consider venturing over to this river, but please wade with caution and avoid walking on private land. I would recommend keeping your eye on the Idaho River Flows page (use the link on our website) and wait for it to drop to more fishable levels.
South Fork of the Boise
I am still hearing reports of large stone flies at the damn and down river a bit. The flows are holding steady at 1600 CFS which is a good level for floating, but some wade fishing opportunities can be found. You may still find some success with big foamy stones pounding the banks, but you may be more successful parking the boat and working the riffles and back channels with small tail water nymphs like WD40s or RS2s, caddis larva, or rubber leg stones. There are some Pink Alberts, size 16, during the day as well and in the evening be sure to have plenty of Caddis drys and emergers in size 16 and 18.
Our stillwaters are best early and late. Both Magic and Mackay have terrific midge hatches this time of year. If you see no surface action, pull Seal buggers and Pops buggers in black or olive off of a sinking line. Or suspend a team of nymphs off an indicator like Prince nymphs, Copper Johns, or classic Chironomids with a floating line. When the midge hatches are at their peak in the evenings and the fish are on or near the surface, try a team of two Chironomids on a floating line with a dry on the point.
This water is really starting to get skinny, but is still a good option if you enjoy fishing a small creek very close to town. The river has been recently stocked around the bridges and some select camp sites and there is a good population of wild trout. When the water gets lower, the fish get more difficult to catch. Be stealthy in your approach and size down your tippet and flies and you will be successful. Try a small Purple Haze, Parachute Adams, or Elk Hare Caddis in size 16 or18. A dry dropper rig is also very effective for searching the water. Go with a high-vis dry like a small Turk’s Tarantula or a Arnold’s Unabomber followed by a Beaded Pheasant Tail, Prince Nymph, Rainbow Warrior, or a Bishop’s Dynamite in size 16 or 18.
If you seek solitude and and a beautiful day’s float or simply hole hopping from one pull out to another in your car, the Upper and Lower Salmon is a great choice. The water level is now below 600 CFS at Yankee Fork making the float from Torrey’s to Squaw Creek a challenge, but there is still plenty of water from Squaw Creek all the way down to Deadmans boat ramp for floating. If you go, take an assortment of orange and yellow Stimulators in size 12 and 14 and any other high visibility attractor dry. It is not to early to start tossing small hopper patterns as well; you can hear them starting to click all along the river. These fish also love standard beaded nymphs like pheasant tails, prince nymphs, stone fly nymphs, and hare’s ear nymphs, especially the white fish, in size 16 to 10.
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!
The Big Wood
Parachute Hare’s Ear
Elk Hare Caddis
Lower & Upper Big Lost
Beaded Nymphs 16 -12
Large Stone Flies
South Fork of the Boise
Heavy Rubber Legged Stone Fly Nymphs
“If I fished only to capture fish, my fishing trips would have ended long ago.” – Zane Grey