Owyhee River Fishing Report
Midges, Midges, and more midges. The name of the game on the Owyhee this time of the year are the midges. Look for heads in the flats sipping in the afternoons during the warmest part of the day. My box would have a selection of size 18 down to 22 and even 24s. Make sure you have a good selection of emergers and adults as these fish have all the time in the day to check out your fly. With the flows hovering around 30cfs, this is quite low compared to what we’re used to in the summer season. That being said, you will need stealthy tactics, longer leaders, and light tippet of 5x and 6x to fool these fish.
Typically most of us stay away from the Owyhee during the spawn and winter, but as we progress into February and spring, you can find great midge activity, and if you’re lucky, even a robust BWO hatch! For nymphing at these flows, using small foam indicators and/or a foam bug big enough to suspend a nymph or two. With these light indicators, it will help to not spook fish. Using small baetis patterns in 18-22 and midge variations in a tandem rig will find some fish.
If you like to throw streamers, you might find success swinging and slow stripping small buggers and leeches through the flats and pools. Please still keep in mind that although the Fall spawn is well over, the eggs wont start hatching until this month into next, so try and avoid wading through the riffles.
Boise River Fishing Report – In Town
The winter fishery right out our back door can be quite good throughout the winter. Flows are holding at around 250 meaning they are perfect wading levels. With the tremendous access from Highway 21 all the way through Star and Middleton, it’s not hard to find some great solitude. Personally, I tend to fish the river in town quite often as it can provide outstanding fish and you don’t have to make a full day trip out of it.
This time of the year is when we see more of those wild browns and rainbows that can tip the scale at 20” and larger fish are definitely present. Nymphing will be your most productive technique and making sure you are in the zone at all times is crucial to winter success. Ample split shot and adjusting your depth accordingly will lead to more success. The same as any other winter fishery, midges are a great dropper to be used. Frenchies, hot spot nymphs, and jig style nymphs will produce fish as well.
You can find some of those more predatory fish swinging sculpins, buggers, and leeches. Make sure you’re at or near the bottom with these streamer patterns doing slow strips and bumps to entice a strike.
South Fork Boise Fishing Report – Tailwater
Average winter flows are always around 300cfs which makes for great wading as compared to the summer when it’s more of a float fishery. The hit or miss conditions on the south fork will start to progress to being more consistent on a daily basis. Spring spawn is starting to approach and with the warmer days ahead, the fish will start to feed more aggressively to put on some weight.
If you’re looking to find that mid winter BWO hatch, start looking for the days where daily temps get into the 40’s. Along with an almost safe bet of midge activity, you can find great BWO hatches as well. Foam is home, so concentrate on the slicks and foam lines and look closely as what you might think is a small fish, can be a great fish barely breaking the surface. These SFB bows are very picky, so presentation is key to tricking these fish. They love small emergers such as RS-2s in olive and gray in sizes 20-22 dropped behind a larger, adult BWO in sizes 16-18 you can see. It’s still too early for the Skwalas, but as we get closer to March, it’s not a bad idea to run a dry dropper rig and do some searching!
Nymphing the usual rubber leg patterns along with midge, jig head nymphs, and hotspot variations will produce. If you’re streamer hungry, you can occasionally come across the Bull Trout that are scattered throughout the tailwater as well as rainbows. Remember, please be quick when handling Bull Trout and get them back in the water and on their way quickly!
As we approach spring, for those of you looking to get another steelhead trip in, this is the time to do it. Keep a careful watch on flows. When these warmer storms start to roll through, and you get a flush of water, expect to start finding fish more consistently on the South Fork Clearwater and Little Salmon. We typically don’t start seeing fish up around the Stanley area until march, but down towards Challis and Salmon you can find fish.
Conditions are huge to success this time of the year so make sure to keep an eye on weather and flows and base your trip around that. It’s very easy for the combination of a big storm with rain or snow events to cause these rivers to blow out.
Fishing report updated by Mike Raymondi
Stop by or call our Boise Fly Shop for up to date information on conditions and to inquire about our Fly Fishing Guided Trips!