Picabo Angler

Pee-Ka-Boo is a Native American word meaning "Shining Waters."

Picabo Angler is a destination: A full-service fly shop & outfitter located on the banks of world-renowned Silver Creek

Sun Valley Area Fishing Report – February 19, 2019

Sun Valley Area Fishing Report – February 19, 2019



Baby it’s cold outside. Here in the Wood River Valley, high temperatures have been in the teens and single digits, and the fishing has slowed somewhat. The good news is that recent snows have pushed our snowpack over the 100% mark, with more snow in the immediate forecast. As we all know, fish need water, and high-water years on local rivers and streams equate to excellent fishing throughout the spring, summer, and fall. 

Even with the latest cold snap, anglers fishing during the right conditions have had success on both Silver Creek and the Big Wood River. Streamer fishing on Silver Creek has produced some outstanding fish this winter. This is “quality over quantity” fishing; winter streamer fishing on the creek provides anglers with one of the best opportunities to catch a trophy brown. On colder days, fish streamers slow and methodically, covering key water thoroughly. As temperatures increase, streamers should be fished more aggressively. The old adage of “dark day, dark fly and bright day, bright fly” is a good rule of thumb to follow when streamer fishing, but don’t be afraid to experiment as well. Remember, the portions of Silver Creek north of Highway 20 remain open through the end of March, so expect fishing to get even better.

Fishing on the Big Wood is primarily a nymphing game right now. All your favorite nymphs will take fish - Copper Johns, Hare’s Ears, Pheasant Tails, Rainbow Warriors, Brassies, Zebra Midges, Princes, and Girdle Bugs are all excellent choices. A double nymph rig with a large point fly followed by a small dropper is your best bet. Concentrate your efforts on typical winter holding water – slow, deep pools and shallow runs with little current. Takes can be extremely subtle at this time of year, so pay attention! Midge dry fly opportunities will increase as we enter into March. 

Winter flows on the South Fork of the Boise remain stable at around 300 CFS. Nymphing will continue to be the most productive technique on the South Fork; don’t fish the river without a good selection of beefy Rubber Legs, cranefly larva, and small zebra midges in sizes 16 through 20. The road into the South Fork canyon can be a little dicey during the winter, so check current conditions and be prepared when making the drive.

Happy Fishing Everyone!

Sun Valley Fishing Report


Silver Creek

Silver Creek

February is a great month for winter fishing in the Sun Valley / Picabo area. The Midge hatches are still present, the Steamer fishing is still fantastic and the weather is making winter travel easy for now! Take advantage of the conditions and get out on the water. Low pressure should come in this weekend, and with a little snow fall, the fishing should be off the charts good!

Silver Creek is fishing great with Streamers. Duck hunting season has ended and the Creek is really quiet again. It seems the closer you fish to Picabo, the better the fishing. The more turbid the water is and the more cloud cover we have, the better the fishing as well. Picabo Angler does have some rarely fished private water available for a small rod fee if you are feeling extra adventurous. The weekend with the cloud cover should be really good. Remember to fish bright colors on bright days and darker colors on darker days. Be sure to stop by the shop if you come down to fish, our own Christian Reid is tying up some incredible bugs to fish. He can get you fresh patterns and point you toward some great fishing.

The Big Wood should fish well this week as we move into February. It’s time to start looking out for the Little Black Stoneflies as well. You can see these bigger winter / spring bugs running around on the snowy banks on the warmest days. If you see them try imitating them with Price Nymphs or Zug Bugs. Swinging these nymphs close to the bank will produce strikes, as these aquatic insects crawl from the center of the river to the banks to reproduce. If you only see Midges this week, stick with Brassies, Zebra Nymphs and Tie Down Midges. If you see neither insect then try Streamer fishing!

The Lost and the South Fork of the Boise are open and anglers have been sparse on both rivers. The reports are minimal. Watch the weather if you go this weekend. Driving conditions may not be optimal. If you do make it to either river we are using all the same winter patterns that we use on the Big Wood and Silver Creek. The Streamer fishing may not be on par, but the dry fly fishing and the Nymphing should be excellent! No matter where you fish this week, take a friend and be sure to tell someone where you’re going!

Happy Fishing Everyone!

Sun Valley Fishing Report


There are so many opportunities and places to fish in the winter near Sun Valley and Picabo it is surprising so few people take advantage of it. For those that do add fly fishing to their winter sport repertoire, they have learned the joy of the winter quietude. They have also learned just how good winter fishing can be! The week ahead looks like a good one as sunshine and warmer days combine into a great fishing experience.

Silver Creek has a nice tint to the water on the lowest stretches. This is exactly what anglers want to see when the winter Streamer season kicks in. The fishing near Picabo Bridge has been consistent for anglers fishing from the bank. Point of Rocks is also fishing well, although a little more wading is required. The duck hunting season ends this Friday in Idaho, which will leave the Creek abandoned for the most part. Quiet days are about to become much quieter! If you head to Picabo to fish Streamers, use a heavy 2X tippet set up, please keep your catch in the water and not exposed to the cold air, and most importantly be safe – The water is cold!!!

The Big Wood continues to produce great Midge activity in the afternoons. The warmer the day, the sooner the surface action will start. With the temps this week, lunch to dinner time will be your best bet. Getting out earlier is fine, just be prepared to Nymph or Streamer fish if you must fish the colder part of the day. In any case you should catch fish, and if you find one, you should find 12 in the same spot! Trout love to group together in the winter. Find a few of these winter holes and you can be in the fish all day long.

The South Fork of the Boise and the lower Lost River are fishing well for those willing to make the trek. Midges still rule the day on both of these rivers with great opportunities to cast nymphs like Girdle Bugs and Red Copper Johns. This would be a good week as far as weather goes to make the journey. No big storms are on the way and nighttime temps should firm up any muddy roads. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check for changes before you go! The South Fork of the Boise is not where you want to be when it rains in the winter! Have fun and be safe!

Happy Fishing Everyone!

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Sun Valley Fishing Report


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Winter on Silver Creek

With the spirit of the Holidays upon us, now would be a great time to stop for a moment and think of all the ways we could give back to the rivers, lakes and fish we all love so much. On a local level that starts with the most basic things, from how we deal with one another, to how we take care of our resources.

To find a beginning let’s look at access points and what takes place there. We rig our rods, make a plan, and maybe fuel up on water and snacks. Many access points on our local streams are found in neighborhoods or close to local businesses or on beautiful country lanes. One thing they all have in common is “access.” To keep these access points from ever being contentious places with those who live near them, it is up to us, the angler to keep them clean and better than we found them. This means picking up after ourselves, and if need be, picking up after others. Without question this simple act also needs to extend up and down the river corridors as well.

Access points also offer us an opportunity to encounter our fellow anglers, who are also out looking to have fun. This is a moment for us to practice kindness and a spirit of shared experiences! When we encounter our fellow angler, the number one thing we can do is engage them. Ask a few basic questions, like have they fished much in the area? Is there somewhere particular they were wanting to fish? Then we can act graciously. We can acquiesce and fish elsewhere. We can go about our plan, and kindly make clear what we planned to do. We can share a fly or a tip about the hatches, or maybe we can be the benefactor of someone else’s kindness and good nature!

Finally, we can use the access points for just that! Access!!! We can appreciate all the public access in the state of Idaho and vow to always fight to protect these areas from fences or those who would try to turn everyone’s Idaho into their own private place. Our public lands and supporting laws are part of what makes Idaho great!

So, this winter, take a moment, breathe the fresh air, feel the cool on your cheeks, and then ask yourself, “How can I make a fellow angler happy today, while I pursue my happiness!”

Sun Valley Fishing Report


John Huber & a winter rainbow. Silver Creek

Identifying winter water is the biggest key to catching a lot of trout when the snow is on the ground. In the winter the fish tend to gather up and winter over in certain sections of river that offer them a few advantages to getting past the long cold months. You can save yourself some prospecting time by keying in on the places where fish want to be.

Food source is certainly a driving factor for these fish when it’s cold. The winter months really only provide the fish with one insect to eat. That is the Midge. Although this insect can be found all year, it becomes prevalent in the winter and the main food source for trout, outside of eating other fish. Midge water normally consists of slow moving water. It may be a smooth surface, a riffled surface or even a foam filled back-eddy. These are places where fish can easily sip Midges from the surface. Often times, finding these areas is as simple as looking at the snowy banks and looking for the bug peppering the bankside snow. If you see this, watch the nearby water closely for rising fish! This normally happens between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Water depth is also a key component to finding winter holding water. Try to find areas that are from thigh to waist deep water. Avoid the thinnest water at the head of the pools, unless the Midge activity is off the charts. Than you may find fish moving into skinny water. Mostly though, watch the middle of the pools. Avoid going super deep, unless there are no bugs and its super cold outside. Runs that have boulders and other structures are often great places to watch for rising fish.

Slow water is among the most important attributes to finding winter fish. Fishing can be broken down into the simplest math. Fish will not spend more calories to take in food than they are expending. This means a fish will not sit in fast water when there is no available food source, or not enough food to make up the calorie exchange. Finding water where a fish can fin easily in the current or lack thereof is huge. The fish need water slow enough to see the tiniest Midge, but fast enough to keep their gills pumping oxygen. A good rule, if the water is difficult to wade or cross, it is too fast!

Happy Winter Fishing Everyone!

Sun Valley Fishing Report


A winter day on Silver Creek.

Fly Fishing with a backdrop of snow and blue sky overhead is one of life’s simple joys. We are blessed here in the Sun Valley / Picabo area with some of the world’s best winter fishing. With the snow on the banks anglers can easily find areas that haven’t been fished simply by walking until the tracks end. If you haven’t built up a winter fly box, take a few minutes here at the shop or a few evenings behind the vise and tie up a few!

Here is a list of essential winter flies that will cover your fishing on all our area waters. If you are going to fish dry flies for the Midge hatches there are only a few we use. The Griffith’s Gnat is the main stay as it is easy to see against the winter glare in the rivers surface. We always combine the Gnat with a Trailing Shuck Midge pattern, normally about 18 inches apart.

If you are going to fish large nymph patterns try a Prince Nymph, Hares Ear, Zug Bug or Girdle Bug. You can fish these in tandem or with one of the micro nymphs listed below. Fishing any of these with a beadhead will help get you to the bottom where the fish are and in most cases this is enough weight to forgo having to use any external lead on your line.

In regards to Micro Nymphs, here are a few favorites of ours. The most common fly is the Zebra Nymph or Zebra Midge. These can be fished in a variety of colors. Black and red are the most effective, but a brown, purple or olive color are also commonly fished in the winter. Brassies are also a great choice in the winter. Fish these in copper or red colors. They make great flies to fish in tandem with Zebra Nymphs, because the copper wire helps the fly sink fast, pulling other small flies down with it. Again, about 18 inches is the norm when fishing tandem flies. Subsurface flies can be fished closer together, at about 12 inches if desired.

Finally, have a few Streamers with you and fish them according to the light. Fish bright flies like a Coffey’s Sparkle Minnow on bright days and fish darker flies like olive Buggers and Zonkers when the clouds roll in.

Have fun on the water this week. It should be a quiet one on the river with very few pre-Christmas anglers out there!

Happy Fishing Everyone!

Sun Valley Fishing Report



Cold nights that are turning into brilliant blue sky days seem to be the norm right now. By the time we reach the warmest parts of the afternoon fish are still rising to Baetis and Midge activity. We can expect this to keep up until we get more inclement weather. In the meantime enjoy the extended fall season!

Silver Creek is fishing well. The Browns are off of their Redds and are looking to put weight back on before the dark winter months. There are still some small Baetis hatches happening after the noon hour. This activity peaks by 2:00 p.m. and then tapers off slowly. Fish are also being caught with Streamers and it really doesn’t matter what time of the day you fish these. Fish bright colors on bright days and dark colors on cloudy days.

The Big Wood just continues to impress as we enter into the early part of winter. Midge and Baetis hatches are still occurring when the wind is down. The Baetis hatches are matched well with a Gulper Special. The Midge hatch imitation is the Tie-Down Midge. Fish a Griffiths Gnat against the glare and then fish a dry-dropper with the Tie-Down Midge behind it. Keep your eye on the Gnat, as it will be easier to see. If anything rises within a foot of the fly, then set the hook! Most of the time you’ll find yourself tied to a fish at the other end. If the fish aren’t rising in the Wood, then try olive colored Buggers or Hares Ear Nymphs and Brassies fished under a strike indicator.

The lower Lost River is on par with the Big Wood these days, providing excellent fishing through the warmest hours of the day. Fish are still keyed on the color red from the washed down Kokanee dying as well as their eggs flowing though the water stratus up and down the river. The closer to the Dam you fish the more you will find this “red” effect.

The South Fork of the Boise is still a great place to go “Cast and Blast” as the Chukar population is solid this year. The Baetis hatches are getting shorter with the days, but the South Fork is still an excellent place to go for slightly warmer temperatures. The Midge and Baetis dry fly activity is wind dependent, but is the wind is down, there should be some decent, if not difficult dry fly opportunities!

Happy Fishing Everyone!

Sun Valley Fishing Report

Sun Valley / Picabo Area Fishing Report — November 9, 2018

Despite winter being on our doorstep the fishing remains pretty good. A few hours of dry fly activity are still the norm when the wind is down and the temps are slightly up in the afternoon. Anglers can find fishing all day long using Nymphs and Streamers, but time your dry fly fix for the hours between lunch and dinner.

Silver Creek is as beautiful as ever with fall coming to a close. The Baetis hatches are still there and a few hours a day are the norm if weather conditions permit. Fishing brightly colored Baetis in a size 22 – 24 is your best bet. The Browns are slowly coming off of spawn, and those that are completely finished will be voracious. Streamer fishing the Creek in low light is going to be productive. If you do catch a post spawn Brown Trout, try to land it quick and release it gently as their reserves are pretty well used up when they finish spawning.

The Big Wood continues to show what makes it such an awesome fishery as angler numbers drop and the fish continue to eat and try to pack on the calories before winter. They feel the chill in the water and know food is getting scarce. Some of the harder to catch fish are becoming easier by the day. Streamer fishing and Nymphing will get you the most opportunities. Try olive colored Sculpin patterns when Streamer fishing and try Copper Johns and Hares Ears when you are Nymphing.

The lower Lost River, despite a lot more anglers on the water, is still fishing very well. Bright colored Rainbows are taking Micro-Nymphs and bigger nymphs fished on the gravel bar shelves found throughout the river. Try to fish these buckets with just enough weight to quickly take your fly into these drop off zones the fish love so much.

Baetis on the South Fork of the Boise continues, but these fish are smarter by the day. Tough dry fly fishing is the norm right now, although rewarding, the fish will make you work for a strike. If you are struggling with the Baetis hatches, try some deeper pools with bigger flies like Zug Bugs, Girdle Bugs and Copper Johns. Don’t forget the “cast and blast” opportunities for you Chukar hunters out there.

Lastly, and like we said last week…stay prepared for winter conditions when you fish from this point forward through the winter. A fun day is a safe day!

Happy Fishing Everyone!

John Huber showing off his reel on a cool Silver Creek day.

John Huber showing off his reel on a cool Silver Creek day.

Sun Valley Fly Fishing Report

Sun Valley / Picabo Area Fishing Report - November 1, 2018

Here comes the cold! A significant change in our weather patterns means temperatures should be dropping about 10 degrees less than what we’ve been experiencing. This could mean the beginning of the end of the dry fly season in the Sun Valley area. The heat of the day could produce some small dry fly windows, especially if it is calm out. Think late afternoons if you want to try to fish the surface.

Silver Creek has a few more hatches left. The Fall Baetis here can sometimes last until Thanksgiving, but that fishing window could shrink down to an hour or two of decent rises. The Brown Trout will be coming off the spawn soon. This means a lot of big hungry trout are going to be out hunting and looking to pack on the calories before winter sets in. This means Streamer fishing and especially on cloudy days and low light periods. The Creek can be a spectacular place in the late fall, just watch the weather and try to find some nice fair days to go fish.

The Big Wood will still fish surprising well with some large attractors in the fall. Consider large Royal Wulffs, H and L Variants and even some Orange or Royal Stimulators. The Midge activity in the early evening is also a nice precursor and warm up for this winter’s Midge hatches! If nothing seems to be working get out an Olive Bugger and fish a lot of water. You will find some nice fish with the proper Streamer techniques. Now, if all else fails, fish a Prince Nymph / Red Copper John tandem under a strike indicator!

The Lower Lost River is still a great place to be in the Fall. Manageable flows and hungry fish mean anglers are finding good success. Nymphing is the norm and a variety of Midge patterns and small Baetis patterns will do the trick!

O.K. it is time to pay closer attention to the weather before you travel to fish. We would suggest taking time this week and putting together a winter fishing / travel kit. Fill an bag with a dry change of warm clothes. Pack some food and water and throw a good sleeping bag in the truck as well. Freak storms, muddy or snowy roads and short daylight hours means we all need to take precautions as we enter the winter fishing season. Be safe and have fun!

Happy Fishing Everyone!


Sun Valley Fly Fishing Report

Sun Valley / Picabo Area Fishing Report - October 24, 2018

A fall mix of weather is upon us. Sun, rain and clouds are all in the forecast, but daytime temperatures should remain comfortable. Cloudy days are certainly going to influence the hatches, but still no need to wake up and get to the water early. Best fishing times should remain between lunch and dinner.

Silver Creek hatch activity remains strong in the middle and later half of the day. The Baetis is the dominant hatch, and this activity could increase with the cloud cover this week. The Mahogany Dun is also still out and about, although in fewer numbers. Expect to see this hatch along with the Baetis late in the day. Don’t hesitate to check out the downstream access points like Silver Creek East to see the best hatches of this insect. Lastly, the October Caddis is still hatching. Anglers can pick up a few fish with this fly during the day by treating it like a Grasshopper. The actual occurrence of the bug should take place closer to the evening hours.

The Big Wood is still fishing very well. We haven’t had a season this good on the Big Wood since our first big forest fires a decade ago. Great hatches, lots of fish and sizable fish have all been in the mix. Now, with angler numbers down for the season, its’s a great time to be out there! Fish Baetis wets and dry and be prepared for some Streamer fishing or Nymph Fishing when the fish aren’t rising. Olive Streamers fish while moving at a decent pace will take plenty of fish. Copper John’s in Red and Copper under a strike indicator will also produce fish.

The Lower Lost remains a great place to fish this fall. Decent Baetis hatches and lots of fish distribution are making for happy anglers. Nymphing is the norm and fishing tandem nymphs will produce good catch rates. Try large nymphs as the lead fly, like a Prince Nymph or Copper John. Drop a small micro-nymph behind these, like a Zebra Nymph or your favorite Tungsten Beaded pattern.  Move slowly up the river and even fish the shallow riffles. Move slow enough and you should be able to site nymph a few fish if the sun is out!

The South Fork of the Boise continues to pump out cookie cutter days of fabulous Baetis hatches. This is a great place to cast and blast as well! Chukar hunt all morning and catch the hatch after lunch!

Happy Fishing Everyone!