Streams Outside of Yellowstone National Park
.............................Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park


Fly Fishing The Big Lost River Tailwater, Idaho

The Big Lost River has two sections with trout populations. The headwaters above
Mackay Reservoir and the tailwater below the reservoir. This article is about the
tailwater section of the stream. The river is located near the Sun Valley area. It drains
areas from three different mountain ranges northeast of Sun Valley. The tailwater is
located off highway #93 near Mackay, Idaho.

It is know for its large rainbow trout. There is a sportsman's access area a couple of
miles below the dam. You can also access the area immediately below the dam. This is
not a large tailwater. The stream is relatively small compared to many other tailwaters. It
can be waded fairly easy or at least it was easy to wade during our late July trip to the
river. I'm sure that depends on the discharges.

We fished the tailwater section one afternoon and again the following morning. The first
afternoon we fished the river from the Sportsman's access area. We could not believe
that we had the only vehicle in the parking area and that we did not see another angler
on the river. It is in a very desolate looking area. Sagebrush and scrubby looking trees
or bushes give a desert-like look to the area.

We didn't notice anything hatching. We fished nymphs and streamers and I managed to
catch two nice rainbows but not the large ones the tailwater is noted for. It is a very
good looking stretch of water. I wish now that we had given them a shot at a grass
hopper imitation but we didn't.

The following morning we fished below the dam. We did not catch anything in about two
hours of hard fishing. I fished streamers and nymphs again because we did not see
anything hatching. Angie let me do all of the fishing. She does that and then takes her
equal time when the dry fly fishing is good. The Salmonfly and Golden Stonefly hatches
had apparently ended. I don't think the no-hatch situation is normal for the river. It is
suppose to have several good mayfly, stonefly and caddisfly hatches in the tailwater
section. According to the local fly shop, the dry fly fishing is usually good in the tailwater

I am sure this fine looking stream is a much better fishery than we can attest too. We
were there only for a short time and certainly didn't give the river much of a chance to
show us anything. It is located in the general area of Idaho that has several other good
streams and we were to anxious to get to some of them. In hind site of our trip there that
occurred about five years ago, I think we should have fished the stream another day or
two. It isn't often that you can find a river with large rainbows that you can have all to
yourself. I am certain that is not the normal case for the Big Lost River Tailwater but it
was the afternoon and morning we spent there.

Copyright 2009 James Marsh
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