Occasional golden cottonwood leaves flutter down. Intermittent patches of brilliant yellow and red dot the hillsides. Red Quill, Callibaetis, Mahogany Dun and Baetis hatches are gaining momentum. These are all signs that fall has arrived! The cooler water temps are triggering the bugs of fall and signaling to the fish that it is time to fatten up before the onset of winter. And with morning air temperatures dipping into the 30’s, there is no need to hit the river too early. Fall is a spectacular time to be on the water in the Wood River Valley.
BIG WOOD RIVER— The water is extremely low, but the fish are still spread out from the fast, shallow riffles to the slow tailouts. A variety of dry flies will turn fish, but small sizes (16 and 18) are your best bet for a positive hookup. Red Quills are also beginning to hatch on the lower river. If you see these fluttering about, you may find fish taking larger dries in size 14 or 12. Nymphing dry dropper or Euro Style can also be productive.
SILVER CREEK—On unseasonably warm days you may still find a few Tricos mixed with some Baetis. On cloudy days (forecasted towards the end of the week) expect strong Baetis hatches. Of course, Callibaetis are still going to be a factor in the afternoon in the pond and sloughs. Mahogany Duns should also keep gaining momentum, especially on cooler days. On windy days, a hopper or an ant would remain a great option. On a side note, if you plan to float in the pond, be prepared for the cold and wear an extra layer under your waders. Remember, when fishing the Preserve, the visitor center remains closed. Look for posted information at each access allowing you to sign in via your phone with a QR code or by texting “Visitor” to (833) 593-0682.
UPPER BIG LOST RIVER— The best action is happening on the main stem of the Upper Lost from the North Fork confluence and down. The river is low, and the fish are in the best holding water. You can expect decent numbers of small wild fish and the occasional larger trout. Late season fish may only allow one legitimate chance…so make your first cast count.
LOWER BIG LOST RIVER— As of today, the flows are around 300 and may continue to drop even more. Tricos and Baetis are still hatching, but the cooler temperatures have moved the bug activity to the late morning through the middle of the day. When the bugs are gone, be prepared to nymph. Of late, the fish are harder to hook, which may be because of the pressure they are under from anglers. The key to success on these fish is contact with your flies. European Nymphing techniques will increase your catch rate dramatically.
SALMON RIVER— With the lower than average flows, the wade fishing has been fantastic. There are plenty of places to park along the river both above and below the town of Stanley. There’s no need to go too early, as the air temps in the Stanley Basin have been quite cool in the morning. But the late morning and afternoon fishing has been fantastic with a variety of techniques and flies.
SOUTH FORK OF THE BOISE— The flows have come down to a very wadable 600 CFS. The flotilla of drift boats is gone, and wade fishermen now rule the waterway. Look for Pinks and Flavs along with fall Baetis to be the main course. Also, crane flies will be seen skittering about along with a few caddis.
LOCAL PONDS—Gaver’s Lagoon, Penny and Lake Creek ponds have been stocked and make a great location for a family picnic.