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

01/19/09

Fly Fishing The Big Wood River, Idaho

The Big Wood River is located in the Sun Valley Region of Idaho or South Central
Idaho. The river flows through a very fast growing area of Idaho with lots of recreational
activity. It is a freestone river that is only stocked in its headwater section above the
confluence of the North Fork of the Big Wood River. From there downstream for almost
40 miles, the trout are wild, stream-bred trout. Man ended the river's journey by forming
Magic Reservoir. There is also a tailwater section with large rainbows below Magic Dam.
Although it is a great place to catch a big rainbow, it is the freestone stream that gets
the recognition. By the way, the Big Wood River was named for the large number of
cottonwood trees that frequently fall into the stream.

The river has some public access areas, but most of the river flows through private
property. You can also access it from several bridges that cross the river. It flows
through Ketchum and Believue, Idaho. If you fish upstream or downstream at the
bridges, you must stay in the river to be legal, but you can fish as far as you like.
The river has both rainbow and brown trout but it is primarily a rainbow trout fishery.

Angie and I spent two days fishing this great stream. I wish we had of taken the
opportunity to fish it more than on that one occasion. We did very well both days we
were there. It just happens to be located near one of our favorite trout streams in the
nation - Silver Creek, and because of that, we did not give the Big Wood the attention
we probably should have. It flows through a great area to stay in. It is fairly easy to
access and to wade in most areas, or at least it was near the end of July when we
fished the river. I am sure the flows are higher from spring until the first of July.

Many of the hatches that occur on the river had already taken place when we were
there. PMDs or Pale Morning Duns were hatching in some areas. We did observe
several samples of larvae and nymphs from our kick nets. It still had a large number of
mayfly and stonefly nymphs present as well as a lot of caddisfly larvae. We saw a few
Little Yellow Stoneflies (Yellow Sallys). We found
baetis (Blue-winged Olives);
Mahogany Dun and Red Quill nymphs in plentiful quantities. Trico nymphs were present
in some of the slow water areas of the stream.

Most of the trout we caught during the two days of fishing were rainbows. Most of them
were taken on PMD imitations, both duns and emergers. The river has lots of good
looking riffles. Late each afternoon the caddisflies began to lay their eggs and we
caught a few both days on dry, adult caddisfly (Spotted Sedge) imitations. All in all, the
fishing was very good. The rainbows we caught probably averaged between 12 and 14
inches. We had a couple that measured 16 inches.  Of course there were a fair share
of them less than 12 inches. Our video logs show we caught a total of 27 trout from the
Big Wood River. We only fish one at a time, from fairly early to late in the day. I would
call that very good couple of days of dry fly fishing. I can highly recommend the Big
Wood River for a destination fly fishing trip, especially since it is located very near a
great trout stream called Silver Creek.

Copyright 2009 James Marsh
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