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

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Sun Valley Fishing Report


silver creek winter am.jpg

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!”

Silver Creek In February

February is arguably one of the best months of the year for streamer fishing Silver Creek. Fish 20" and larger are frequently caught. Keep in mind Silver Creek is only open this time of year from the HWY 20 Bridge downstream. This section closes on March 1st so now is the time.

The water clarity is off a little bit at the moment and will likely continue to stay off color with the super warm weather we have been having. It was about 55 degrees in Picabo yesterday. The lack of water clarity is exactly what we want for good streamer fishing as the fish are far less spooky.

We are offering free access to our private water on Silver Creek with a guided trip through all of February. This water sees very little to no pressure this time of year. This is a great opportunity to catch that elusive monster brown!

A beautiful brown trout caught yesterday (2/5/18) on Silver Creek

John Huber with a bent rod.

John Huber with another nice brown. 2/5/18 

Images: Nick Price

The fishing, especially the nymphing, has also been very productive on the Big Wood River. Our unusually warm weather has been and is continuing to provide some of the best winter fishing we have had in years. High temps over the course of the next week are supposed to be somewhere between 40 and 50 on the Big Wood and will be warmer on Silver Creek in Picabo.

Sun Valley Fly Fishing

Sun Valley Area Fishing Report 06/21/17

Summer begins anew in Picabo and Sun Valley this week as daytime highs are warm, the wind is finally coming down some and there is no return to spring like conditions in the forecast. Silver Creek continues to fish very well, despite the inconsistent weather we’ve had the past few weeks. With some consistency we should see the Creek really turn on as hatches stabilize and we see some rhythm to it all.

Currently we are seeing the Brown Drake come back to life in the Willows. This action could pick up as we head toward the weekend. It’s hard to say. It could fade away again quickly, but I know there is only one way to find out…

Green Drakes are a daily occurrence on the upstream reaches of the Creek like the Silver Creek Preserve. Some days the fish are on them and others they are being ignored. In any case, there again is only one way to truly find out…

The PMD and Callibaetis action remains strong and we should definitely see more consistent hatches and spinner falls of these bugs this week. Damsel Nymphs remain among the best subsurface flies anglers have been casting when the hatches don’t show. The adults will start getting eaten more as the weed beds reach the surface of the Creek in the next few weeks.

The flying ant remains the best fly on the river for the slowest times and for catching the biggest fish. We have heard and seen of more incredible fish being caught on ants than on any other bug thus far this season.

With the weather warming quickly, it’s time to put Tricos in your fly box and begin to watch for this incredible spinner fall in the mornings. You don’t want to be on the river when the fish lock in on this bug without some quality patterns.

There is not much else to report this week. We are waiting for the Forest Service to reopen the streamside areas and boat ramps on the South Fork of the Boise. There is good Green Drake and Brown Drake action on the Henry’s Fork. Watch the Big Wood north of Ketchum as it clears, but remain wary of strong flows and leave your dog at home until the CFS comes way down. Magic Reservoir is still worth a look near the dam and the surrounding shallow water bays.

Happy Fishing Everyone!

Brown Drake Update

We continue to sit by the river each night awaiting the first big emergence of the Brown Drake. We have yet to see more than one here and one there...In the meantime the Callibaetis and Baetis hatches in the evening have got plenty of fish up. We figure we are still a few days away from any giant Spinner Falls, and of course the first big emergence will mostly happen in the dark, but that could come on any night, or maybe even during an afternoon storm...We will continue to wait and keep you posted!

Sun Valley Area Fishing Report - December 2, 2015

Jack Frost and Old Man Winter teamed up this past week and made a pretty good case for staying in the house to tie some flies! Don’t fret as the conditions should change by Thursday back to what we would consider “normal” winter fishing conditions. This means we get back to fishing windows that should last from 11:00 a.m. to about 4:00 p.m.

If nothing else this past week reminded us of why we carry tire chains, extra food and water, as well as a change of clothes. Are fun level is often dictated by how prepared and safe we can be. Take this to heart and always be prepared when heading out into the wilds of Idaho. Even if you are only 4 miles from town – Town is still in the middle of wilderness!

Getting back into the swing of winter fishing, anglers should be prepared to nymph the standard winter flies. Try Zebras Nymphs and Brassies as primary flies and fish them under a strike indicator. One and a half the waters depth is the standard rule for the depth to set your indicator, or about an arm length on the Big Wood.

Approaching the Christmas Holiday means we also approach the winter dry fly season. Low pressure and warmish days could provide the first significant Midge hatches of the winter. This means fill your fly box with Griffiths Gnats, Tie-Down Midges and Trailing Shuck Midge patterns. Have some dry shake as well. If you find rising fish, use the Griffiths Gnat as a lead fly. They are easy to see and will help you locate your Trailing Shuck patterns. Tie your Trialing Shuck patterns 18 inches behind the Griffiths Gnat from the bend in the hook. Dress both flies well with a dry shake type floatant, being sure not to get any on the tail of the Trailing Shuck. You want the shuck in the water or the film on the surface. This easy target is what the fish are keying on, and is what will make them choose your fly over thousands of real Midges!

Road conditions by the weekend should be pretty decent and allow anglers to travel to the Lost and the South Fork of the Boise. Silver Creek should start producing nice fish being taken on Streamers. Remember, Silver Creek is only open from the Highway 20 Bridge downstream for the months of December through February.

Happy Fishing Everyone!

Anglers Journal 2015 Summer Issue

Below is a two page image of John Huber in the current summer issue of Anglers Journal. The image was taken on the Double R section of Silver Creek during last year's mega-moon.

Two page image of Picabo Angler's John Huber in the summer issue of Anglers Journal. Photo: Nick Price

The Brown Drake Continues

We had some rough weather for a few days, but after a nice day yesterday, the Drake Spinner Fall began ramping back up. What anglers can expect the next few nights is great action around the Willows Access and near the Hwy 20 Bridge. The last week of the hatch also means sporadic events, like daytime hatches and spinner falls up and down the river. It is a bit of be in the right place at the right time, but if you are looking for something to do in the mornings, try looking for the Drake from Picabo upstream. You just may find the best hour of fishing this season!

Sun Valley Area Fishing Report - May 18, 2015

If you listen closely you will hear the sounds of zippers being pulled closed on wader bags, float tubes being aired up, click and pawl drags being tested, and the sound of fly boxes being snapped shut. Opening Day is upon us Idaho!

Silver Creek is the place to be this weekend as recent rains have blessed this special body of water with a nice cleansing and levels high enough to spread the fish throughout the system. Partly cloudy conditions coupled with warmish temperatures spells great mayfly activity. Expect Baetis and P.M.D.s to take center stage, but also be aware the Callibaetis has been very strong here on warm days. No matter what, be sure to have Beetle and Ant patterns!

The Brown Drake is still a week or more away and will most likely appear once we return to a weather pattern of warm sunny days and temperate nights. Keep an eye on the forecast, or do it the fun way and just show up at Picabo Bridge every evening after the weekend and wait for the first big night!

The Big Wood may fish a little on the weekend, it really depends on the rain and how hard it is coming down. The clarity seems to be changing day to day, and although the flows aren’t huge, there are probably better places to be for now.

The Lost River is fishable as of now, but again, there are a lot of variables here, both above and below the Mackay Dam. Keep an eye on the CFS below the dam, if it doesn’t jump to high you may find some o.k. fishing. The upper Lost will fish depending on the clarity.

The Little Wood River will have some fishing above and below the Little Wood Reservoir Dam. Think big Stone and Salmon Flies.

The South Fork of the Boise is also worth a look, but this river is generally better the later we get into June.

All in all, Opening Day presents a few challenges to finding the best fishing. Pay close attention to the details like CFS and Weather before you decide where to be. You can count on Silver Creek fishing, and of course Picabo Angler and the Nature Conservancy will  hosting our annual Opening Day parties, so no matter whether you fish or not on the opener, come on down to Picabo and enjoy a wonderful day with friends and all your brothers and sisters of the fly!

Happy Fishing Everyone!

Silver Creek Brown Drakes

We are now less than ten days away from opening day and we thought yesterday would be a perfect time to look for Brown Drake nymphs behind Picabo Angler on Silver Creek. While wading Silver Creek and seining for Brown Drake nymphs there were a bunch of Baetis on the water and a few callibaetis as well. And..., yes, fish were up feeding on the surface.

The water flow on Silver Creek at the time of writing this is 115 cfs. The mean for today is 121 cfs.

Our Brown Drake patterns--along with many others--just arrived and we are fully stocked. It's our guess at Picabo Angler that the Brown Drakes will get started, much like last year, somewhere near the end of May.

Brown Drake (Ephemera Simulans) Nymphs. Silver Creek. Photo: Nick Price

Silver Creek Access Primer #4

Here is our latest Silver Creek access primer and it's on The Willows access point. We have done these videos starting at the farthest downstream public access (Priest Rapids Video Primer #1) and we are working our way upstream showcasing all of the public access points on Silver Creek.

Brown Drakes & Fly Rod & Reel

John Huber, pictured below in the new Spring issue of Fly Rod & Reel, casts during a blizzard brown drake spinner fall last year on Silver Creek. This was arguably the heaviest of all the spinner falls last year. Location: Between Point of Rocks and The Willows access points on Silver Creek.

This hatch is likely to come off early this year which could very well mean sometime right around or just after the May 23rd opener.

John Huber during a Brown Drake spinner fall from heaven on Silver Creek last year. Fly Rod & Reel Spring 2015 issue. Photo: Nick Price

Silver Creek Access Primer #1

Below is a short video primer on the farthest downstream fishing access on Silver Creek called, Priest Rapids. This is our first video in a series that showcases all of the different public access points on Silver Creek. Priest Rapids is completely different both aesthetically and hatch wise than what people ordinarily think of as Silver Creek. It flows over basalt and has a much steeper gradient making for pools and fast water and pockets. See the video below for more...

Sun Valley Area Fishing Report - March 16, 2015

Spring has sprung in the Sun Valley area. With the consistent change to spring like weather comes new opportunities! Steelhead season is underway in the Stanley / Challis area. Early snowmelt and warm days have brought the river up, thus bringing the fish up with it. This doesn’t necessarily mean a prolonged season in as much as it means an earlier end to follow the early beginning. If you love chasing these Sea-Run Rainbows now is your time. We have guides available should you need a lesson or just want that extra set of eyes and knowledge for the day!

The Big Wood has continued its temperamental nature that has been common place since the recent forest fires throughout the drainage. Recent rains have blown it out, and this will continue with most big storms, but expect some o.k. fishing towards the end of the month, as long as clear skies prevail. There is a little bit of fishing to be had below Magic Reservoir, in the Big Wood’s canyon stretch, but the area is not quite as fishy as it has been in years past.

The Lower Lost is the place to be for most anglers right now. Pre-spawn is in full-swing and is timed nicely with frequent lunch time Blue Winged Olive action on the surface. If the fish aren’t working the surface, a nymph combo is a great choice. Think small Pheasant Tails to copy the Baetis (BWO) nymphs and try Red colored anything (Copper Johns and Zebra Midges) to imitate the midges and the eggs that early spawners drop throughout the river. This is a great day trip, and until anglers can drive over Trail Creek Summit, Picabo Angler is open daily with a great fly selection, gas, groceries and lunch. Stop by for a latte as well. We’re truly a one stop shop for anglers!

The South Fork of the Boise continues to fish o.k. as well. Sporadic Blue Winged Olive hatches as well as some good Midge action are enough to bring a few fish to the fly. It hasn’t been gang busters, but it is a beautiful time of the year down there, and always a few degrees warmer as long as the wind doesn’t blow.

This is also an EXCELLENT time of the year to begin prospecting our local stillwaters, like Magic Reservoir or the Little Wood. Carp fishing the Snake is also very good right now, as fly anglers take advantage of another prespawn opportunity!

Happy Fishing Everyone!

Sun Valley Area Fishing Report - February 16th, 2015

Sunny days are upon us this week and anglers can count on the fish reacting to it in some places. The best fishing will most likely take place on our freestone streams and tail-waters, where riffles and other surface features will give the fish a place to hide under the bright light. The sun will also mean high pressure and slightly cooler days than the last few weeks. Expect decent hatches of Midges on the South Fork of the Boise, the Big Wood and the Big Lost River.

Anglers fishing the Big Wood River may also see decent occurrences of the Little Black Stonefly. If you see these guys crawling around on the banks, try swinging flies like Hares Ears and Prince Nymphs on a tight line. It is a fun technique and will almost always produce the biggest fish of the day. Simply cast across the river, or slightly upstream, without a strike indicator on the line. Instead put a touch of weight about 12 inches above your fly. Let the fly sink as it comes even and then past you with the current. Once the fly gets near the end of the line, throw a upstream mend in the line to get the fly to swing slowly. At this point the fly should come tight and the line, and as it is swinging across the river, the fly should also move from the bottom of the river, toward the surface. This will give the fly the appearance of emerging, and will in turn trigger the prey drive in the fish and get them to attack!

Silver Creek should continue to fish well. The daytime temps last week were high enough to form decent Midge hatches, and anglers in some places on the river were treated to rare winter dry fly activity on the Creek. Streamer fishing is still the way to go if you want to target the biggest fish in the river.

With clear skies, this will also be an excellent week to strike out for the South Fork of the Boise and the Lost River. If you head for the SFOB load for bear, as this river in the winter is anyone’s guess as to what may be taking place. Midge Dries, Nymphs and Streamers could all come into play.  On the Lost, take all your same flies you would fish on the Big Wood in the winter. Be sure to have some Baetis dries as well…just in case.

Happy Fishing Everyone!


The Results Are In!

We drew the winners of this years rod raffle that went to support the Kilpatrick Pond Project on Silver Creek. We would like to say thank you to all of you who entered the drawing. Even if you didn't win the rod, we all win a better Silver Creek!

The Winner of the Echo 3 - 9ft 5wt is Darrel Beebe from Idaho Falls

The Winner of the Custom 7.5 ft 4wt Bamboo Rod built by Bob Turzian is Marty Albertson of Ketchum.


Sun Valley Area Fishing Report - November 10, 2014

Winter fishing has quickly come upon us. This means significant change for the angler. It may be time to put the 4 weight rod away or your favorite dry fly stick and get ready for a few months of Nymphing and Streamer fishing. The best news is, no more carrying a big bag with a ton of gear and flies for many months. Anglers can now enjoy a fly box with a few basic nymph patterns and a couple of good streamers. Make sure you have strike indicators, a tippet spool, nippers and forceps and you’re good to go!

A winter fly box should include: Size 18/20 Red and Black Zebra Nymphs, Size 12/14 Bead Head Prince Nymphs, Hares Ears, and Zug Bugs, Size 14/16 Brassies in Red and Copper, Girdle Bugs, Montana Stonefly Nymphs and your favorite streamer patterns like Buggers, Sparkle Minnows, and Zonkers.

Another important piece of gear you should have is the New Zealand Strike Indicators. This new Strike Indicator system is incredible and made this angler switch after 20+ years of using the same foam indicators. These NZ style indicators can be moved freely up and down the line, they are super sensitive, float well and are unperceivable when casting.

Winter is also an excellent time to fish with Fluorocarbon instead of Nylon Leader material. When fishing subsurface there will always be a delay between the fish eating and the angler striking. One small advantage you can gain is by using Fluorocarbon material because it won’t stretch when you set the hook. This means a quicker hook set and hook point that penetrate with power.

Just because it is getting cold, doesn’t mean you should stop fishing. A few things you can do to make it more comfortable out there are fishing in fingerless gloves. Take that one step more and insert hand warmers into the backs of the glove to keep the blood moving to your fingers warm. Sock liners are also a great idea in combination with a really good winter sock, and if you really get cold feet try boot-foot waders. Also keep in mind that what you eat before and what you bring to snack on while fishing is important as well. Keep your energy level high and that alone will keep you moving and keep you warm.

Finally, remember snow storms mean low pressure and around here that means very, very good winter fishing!

Happy Fishing Everyone!


Sun Valley Area Fishing Report - August 4, 2014

Anytime you have a sport where the rules are dictated by Mother Nature you will have to learn to take the good with the bad. What is happening this week with the weather is a great example. If you love to fish Silver Creek then you can look at the cooler temps and the rain and rejoice in the flows coming up, better oxygen levels for the fish, and cooler water. This all spells great fishing this week and even into next week. Now, on the other hand if you love to fish the Big Wood, than this weather is making things a bit hit and miss. Mainly, is the river going to be fishable or not after one of the many thunderstorms we have been experiencing?

Not a terrible dilemma having to choose between two wonderful fisheries, and if you can’t make that decision, then stop trying and just head over to the Lost! The upper and lower Lost River systems are at their peak right now. Big fish are being caught above the reservoir, although you need to be willing to hike a lot of water to catch more than one or two. Small attractors are all one needs. Parachutes, Trudes, and Stimulators are a good starting point. Have some good sized PMD patterns as well. The fish are often keying on a variety of yellowish mayflies and a standard Thorax PMD will fill the bill for almost all of them. 

The lower Lost River is fishing well when the sun gets the Tricos going. Baetis and Crane Flies are also on the menu below Mackay Dam. Expect this action to continue for most of August. If you do go to match these hatches, be ready to small. The Trico in the next valley over is tiny! Size 22 and 24 Tricos are not out of the ordinary here. We have purchased quite a few patterns here at Picabo Angler specifically for this Lost River dilemma. Stop in next time you’re fishing the Creek and we’ll show you some.

With the Creek coming up to near normal levels we are expecting the return of the hot weather to bring us the first really solid Hopper bite of the season! Be ready with your favorite foam patterns once we get back into a rhythm of sun and wind.

Bird hunters, it’s time to get your gear out. GO over everything and fill in what you need. It is also time to go bust a few clays at one of our local gun clubs. Hunting season opens at the end of the month!


Happy Fishing Everyone!

Sun Valley Area Fishing Report - July 21, 2014

Expect another great week of fishing, as flows remain high enough in most rivers to provide excellent opportunity prior to the low summer flows that will eventually bring many fisheries to a more technical point.

On Silver Creek, the fishing remains incredible in the mornings and right on into the lunch hour. The Silver Creek Preserve remains closed to fishing until 10:00 a.m. but the rest of the river is open and the hatches and spinner falls have been fabulous. The mornings are bringing varying degrees of Trico activity, followed promptly by Baetis and PMD flurries. Once this action ends, anglers can immediately cut back their leaders and tie on Blue Damsel patterns. This has been a very good fly in the late mornings and afternoons.

The Big Wood and Upper Lost River are fishing very well right now, with a slight lean toward becoming low light fisheries. The mornings and evenings are producing rising fish and the afternoons become a time to search with big dries and maybe a dropper underneath.

The Lower Lost is fishing well and earlier in the season than mot years. The low flows mean easier access for anglers. Small nymphs like Pheasant Tails and Red Copper Johns are producing nicely. Have a variety of sizes in Parachute Adams if you go as well. Skating Crane flies is another exciting way to fish the Lost. We are carrying the new foam bodied Mackay Special here at Picabo Angler, and if you haven’t fished it, we recommend you give this a try!

The Little Wood is a river we haven’t written about much this season, as the recent fires and low flows have made the desert stretch a non-event and the upstream waters above Little Wood Reservoir have a seemingly small population of fish this summer. It’s still a great place to go for some quietude and to cast big dry flies to fair sized fish.

The South Fork of the Boise has been fishing very well. The Pink Albert hatch has been coming on stronger and with a few stoneflies, hoppers and cicadas, the banks are fishing well on some days. There is still no camping allowed and the access points are different and dictated by new rapids, so fewer anglers are floating than in years past. The weekdays can be a very good time to explore the South Fork. The float from the Village Put In down to Indian Rock has been a good bet. If you go, be safe and scout the water before you float it!

Happy Fishing Everyone!

July 14, 2014 Sun Valley Area Fishing Report

Sometimes the fishing around here is so great, there just isn’t enough word count for a good report! Here we go anyway! TRICO! The heat and the cyclical nature of the Trico hatches and spinner falls over the years have met perfectly this summer. It is safe to say the SHOW is back in the Creek. Many an angler has seen the Trico madness on Silver Creek, and many an angler has decided to make the Sun Valley area their home because of it.

If you have not experienced the Trico Spinner Fall on hot summer mornings on Silver Creek, this is the time! The volume of insects can be comparable to the Brown Drakes, only smaller in size. Almost every fish in the river comes to the surface to eat this tiny mayfly, couple the intensity of the fish mopping the surface of bugs, with the technical side of trying to get them to eat your offering, and you have a recipe for fly angling at its highest level. If you want to learn more, come on down to Picabo and visit with Bob, Nick or John and we’ll set you up for a crazy morning of fishing! If you’ve been at it for a while, and need a “better” fly than the one your casting, we have a few staff favorites that will help get the deal closed on some of the Creek nicest fish. Expect a solid month of this activity. Now, would be a good time to ask your boss for an afternoon shift. Once the air temps hit 70 degrees, its game on!

Looking elsewhere, the Big Wood and the upper Lost are putting on their own morning show, with a variety of spinner falls. Green Drakes, PMD, Trico, Little Yellow Sally, Golden Stones, and more are all present on most days. Expect the action to start around 8:30 and last a solid 2 hours. After that, big flies like Cicadas, Turks Tarantula and Stimulators will still bring fish up. Normally, we’d suggest a dropper fly, but with fishing this good, anglers may want to take advantage of the fish looking hard at the surface this time of the year.

Finally, the South Fork of the Boise is fishing pretty well and we’ve seen a few rafts tackling the new rapids below the boat launch. We still haven’t seen a hard sided boat go down, but we’re sure someone has tried it. SCOUT IT FIRST! Wear you vest, and Please be safe. Oh, and take your Pink Alberts.

Happy Fishing Everyone!