With 18 inches of snow resting beautifully on top of Baldy, the panorama of the valley is breathtaking. Although this October has been chilly it appears that the upcoming week will offer some excellent windows for the fly fisherman. With temperature highs projected to reach the 60s, we should see an eruption of Baetis on most of our local waters. Midges will also come into play, giving anglers another strategy for connecting with a trout. Entomologically, afternoons are the most active time of day, but on the warmer days don’t be surprised to find fish on the surface before noon.
Big Wood River
The Big Wood (229cfs), at the moment, is a little bit hit or miss. With the forecast calling for mostly sunny skies and a rise in daily temperatures, the latter part of the week looks to be the best for dry fly opportunities. The dominant insect on the Big Wood is the Baetis. Look for these small insects (size 18-20) predominantly in the afternoons. Most sipping fish will be present in the eddies and the slack water next to rapids as well as in the calmer, shallow flats. The windows for surface fishing are likely to be short, some days less than an hour, but if the sun warms the system, it is possible to have several hours of productive dry fly action. Midges will also make a showing, often prolifically. When the fish are not coming to the surface, try using Pheasant Tails (size 16), Zebra Midges (size 18-22), Brassies (size 18-22) and Rainbow Warriors (size 18-22) down deep.
The Creek has had some shining moments over the past week. Baetis are the stars of the system here and fish have been rising to them actively. You can still see a few Mahogany Duns, but Baetis and Midges are the bugs regularly filling the air this time of year. The Brown Trout are actively spawning on gravel beds and Woolly Buggers and egg patterns will result in the majority of hookups. With short days and cooler termperatures, there are only a few more weeks of productive dry-fly fishing left for this year.
Big Lost River
The Lost (154cfs) is fishing exceptionally well. Midges abound from the mornings through the bulk of the day and are accompanied by a proliferation of Baetis. In the mornings on warmer days, look for fish to be actively feeding on the surface as they chase the fall Baetis. As the day progresses, expect to see waves of larger Baetis emerging in the afternoons, sometimes in great numbers. The fish are rising primarily on seams adjacent to faster currents as well as in the slack water of larger eddies. Tippet should be around 5X to 6X with no need to decrease tippet size. In between waves of little olive mayflies, try a Zebra Midge/Brassie double nymph rig in sizes 18-22. Trail Creek Pass is clear so there is no need to drive through Arco…at least for now.
South Fork of the Boise
The South Fork of the Boise is flowing at a diminutive 285cfs, allowing the opportunity for excellent walk and wade fishing. Baetis is the primary insect in addition to the ubiquitous Midge. It is still possible to see a few petite Pale Morning Duns (size 18) but if fish are not feeding on top, try the Zebra Midge/Brassie combo and your rod tip should be bent in no time. Just remember to keep in mind, you increase your chances of hooking into a Whitefish using this combo method. Streamers are also an excellent cold weather option, especially when the sky is overcast.
The Salmon continues to fish well but you’ll need an extra layer if you head over Galena Pass. In the case of the Salmon River, bigger is better. Try a double nymph set up consisting of large (size 12) Prince Nymphs, King Prince Nymphs, Copper Johns and Stonefly Nymphs. As another option, subsurface midge imitations like Zebra Midges and Brassies will hook the whitefish, Rainbows, Cutthroats, Cuttbows and Bull Trout.