Hello Everyone! Hans here with the Sturtevants weekly fishing report.
Heavy rains have blown ash and mud from the Beaver Creek fire into Warm Springs and Baker Creeks and subsequently muddied the majority of the Big Wood. Keep checking the water clarity, once you can see a foot or two the fishing should pick up dramatically.
Free casting clinics are being held at Atkinson’s Park every Monday night at 6pm as well as Sturtevants free Bugs and Brews entomology classes taught by our resident bug nerd and lead guide Carl Evenson. So give us a call or stop by the shop for up to date info and friendly free advice.
The Big Wood
With each new rain event the Big Wood receives another dose of ash, mud, and debris from the Beaver Creek fire one year ago to date. Baker Creek and Warm Springs are the main culprits of this blow out and the only stretch of river unaffected is the small section above the Baker Creek confluence. At times it may look grim, but remember that this is a natural cycle of nutrient redistribution. Fish and bugs have evolved to survive and ultimately benefit from these events. Besides, the fishing gets better in off colored water if you know how to attack it. Once things clear up a bit, where you can see a foot or so into the water, the fishing will be on. San Juan Worms, Beadheads (with a hint of flash to them, not overkill), and Rubberleg Stonefly nymphs will take most fish if you can get within strike range. Streamer fishing picks up as the larger predatory fish have a field day ambushing prey in the murky waters. Sculpin Patterns like the Evensons Tunghead Minnow will fish increasingly well as we approach the fall season. Large and bright dry flies like the Chubby Chernobyl, PMX, and Stimulator types draw a surprising amount of strikes on the surface as well. Check your expectations of gin clear water, pack a raincoat, and get crafty- fishing off colored water can be extremely productive.
Totally blown out with ash from a mudslide on Dollarhide Summit. The only option out this drainage is a warm mud bath in the hot springs. The Dollarhide Summit road to Featherville is impassable from two slides- one on the summit itself and one below the Big and Little Smoky Creek confluence.
This is a great option to find clear water and easy fishing within a short distance from Ketchum. The easiest access is from the Boundary Creek Campground to the bridge upstream. Here there is a nice footpath along the water with numerous pools and eddies to drift through. Tiny beadhead nymphs are deadly against these feisty trout. For a bit more adventure drive upstream, pick a pulloff, and hike down to the river. There is no shortage of water or excess of fisherman in the upper stretches.
Variable weather has made for spotty hatches. As a general rule- clouds bring Baetis and sun brings Tricos. However, heavy rain can shut things down. Be prepared with plenty of Tricos, Baetis, and PMD’s in your Silver Creek Box. When the morning bug action slows Terrestrials and Damsels fish well for dries. A drowned ant is my go-to midday dropper underneath a Beetle or small low-riding Hopper. Systematically covering water with a Woolly Bugger or Leach Pattern can produce when nothing else seems to be happening. In the evening tiny Baetis and Caddis make up most of the action. Water levels are back to normal but these fish are still living in less than ideal conditions – not that you shouldn’t fish them, just be careful to land and release them quickly.
The Big Lost
A good bet for clear water. The smaller tributaries and the upper Copper Basin proper are running low. Good water can be found from the Wildhorse-East Fork Confluence downstream into the Main Stem. Prospecting rigs on the Main Stem are mostly any high riding and leggy attractor pattern or hopper with a beadhead dropper. Presentation and fish finding are the keys to success, this is as much hunting as fishing. Deep and rocky runs hold trophy Whitefish that can’t turn down a small nymph if it drifts close enough to their mouth. Find these runs where the obvious rock formations jut into the river from the mountainsides. Below the Mackay Dam has seen significant fishing pressure as many local fisherman and guide parties have been displaced from the Big Wood. Despite this fishing has been good. Morning Tricos have been the mainstay of the hatch with baetis and PMD’s mixed in. When the hatch wanes fishing a Drowned Trico Spinner under a Midge Cluster or micro indicator can extend the action. When nothing else is stealing the limelight, fish are eating midges. There is also an healthy population of Crawfish in the river so if the #22 dries and light tippet are getting old, experiment with a streamer. The Barrs Meat Whistle tied on a jig hook is a killer Crawfish pattern.
Salmon River and Surroundings
Valley Creek, running through Stanley, is blowing out the Salmon with ash. Clear water above Stanley is diluting the ash and the whole river is clearing faster than the Big Wood. Above Stanley good fishing can be found with high riding Stimulators, PMX’s, and Parachute Patterns. Beadhead nymphs consistently take fish when the surface action slows down. In the off colored water the predators come out to play. Flashy streamers with a Rio Versileader sink tip dredged into the deeper pools and runs can take native Bull Trout. Be careful to release these fish quickly and use barbless hooks. There have been a few reports of Chinook Salmon caught on accident. If you happen to hook one of these obviously oversized fish, and you will know, do the honorable thing and long line release by breaking off your fly. Loon Creek and much of the Middle Fork is also going off color with each heavy rain but clearing quickly.