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Discussing fishing flies, trout flies, salmon flies, fly fishing gear and equipment, Idaho and Montana fishing rivers, NW rivers, fly tying and fly fishing trips. Over 50 years experience in fly fishing, best flies, fly tying, fly fishing techniques, fish stories, directions to rivers and lakes and great fly fishing tall tales with special communications from area guides.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Big Wood River, Idaho

"The Big Wood River, Idaho" posted by YellowStoneFly from the Idaho Fly Fishers blog. Remember, fly fishing Idaho should be a “bucket list” deal for any US fly fisher. This river is no exception. The Big Wood's headwaters are found just west of Galena Peak which is over 11,000 feet high. From its source in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, the Big Wood River flows 60 miles due south, between the Boulder Mountains to the north, Pioneer Mountains to the east, and the Smoky Mountains to the west. Almost its entire length is traversed by Route 75. Access along the highway is easy providing many places to pull off and fish. Below Magic reservoir is a tail-water section that also produces some quality fishing. All fishing is done by wading here. No floats, but some quality guides are located in Ketchum and Haley who will be delighted to show you some great holes. Below Magic Reservoir, where the tail-water produces some quality fish, the Big Wood River enters Lincoln County, passing by many lava beds and irrigation canals before entering Gooding County. Just west of Gooding, the Big Wood River joins the Little Wood River to form the Malad River and eventually flows into Idaho’s famous Snake River.
Big Horn River, Montana fly fishing information HERE!
From its headwaters to the confluence of the North Fork of the Big Wood, it is a tumbling rocky stream. The North Fork flows in approximately ten miles north of Ketchum and Sun Valley. From this junction the river gains volume, the pitch decreases and it begins to slow down to flow over a classic freestone river bed. Nice deep pools, riffles, and runs are to be found throughout its entire length. The most popular stretch of the Big Wood is from the junction of the North Fork down to Bellevue which is approximately twenty five miles. Rainbows are the most populated trout in this area, but some nice browns can be had below Bellevue. Make sure you check all the Special Regulations however before going out on this river, for there are a few.
Big Wood Rainbow
The Big Wood appeals to anglers of all abilities, and is a perfect place to polish your fly fishing skills with the help and instruction of a local guide if you choose. Nymphs and streamers also fish effectively throughout the season (see “Western Fly Hatch Chart”). They can be exceptional during the end of run-off when water levels are still a little high and off-color. A sink tip line will sometimes be necessary to keep your streamers down depending on flows. Hatches are prolific with Stoneflies, mayflies and evening caddis. Rainbows are caught in all sizes varying from 10 to 20 inches and it’s not uncommon to hook 15 to 20 trout on a good hatch day. The Big Wood is affected by the winters snowpack and runoff, but usually drops to a wadeable level by mid-to-late June. Once the river clears, the fishing is really good with Western Green Drakes and Yellow Stonefly hatches particularly in the late evening. Mayfly hatches remain steady all through the summer and autumn months of October and November. Try combining the Big Wood River and Silver Creek (subject of another posting) for a single day trip since they are within a 15 minute drive of one another.
Bull River Montana Brown
To not fly fish Idaho and the Big Wood is an unforgivable fly fishing sin. But remember, Idaho fly fishing is not only about the beautiful rivers in the southern part of the state, but also about all the world class rivers in the middle (Salmon, Snake, etc.) and the north (Kootenai, Bull River in Montana, Clark Fork, etc.) as well. Idaho is a very long and narrow state. Happy fly fishing! 

Idaho Angler (IdahoAngler@live.com)


              The Bull River, Montana 

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