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!”

Sun Valley Area Fishing Report - December 29, 2015

Happy New Year from all of us here at Picabo Angler!

Let’s talk pressure systems. We had wonderful low pressure fishing conditions for nearly a month now. We couldn’t ask for more or better in the winter months. The low pressure provides the snow and the ideal conditions for fish. Yet, not here we are with a few weeks of high pressure and artic cold temperatures. Does this mean bad fishing? Absolutely not.

Change is the most important factor when considering barometric pressure and how it effects your fishing. Is low pressure better? Yes, more often than not it is, but what we are really after are those days of change. More importantly we are looking for the day after change!

Regardless of whether Sun Valley is under a low or high pressure system, one thing is for certain. When the day comes that we go from cloudy skies to crystal clear skies, that is the precursor for some great fishing as the next day, or second day of the pressure change, is almost always a red hot catch rate day.

With that said, keep your eyes on a web site like weather underground that shows a graph with the pressure. This will help you pick the right days to be on the water no matter how cold it is, and it will help you save those less fishy days for fly tying, rod building, or reading a good book.

If you head out on the water this week, Silver Creek is pretty well frozen over. With that said stay tuned with us as we will let you know when the ice breaks. The day after that happens we can expect some world class streamer fishing and some great opportunities to catch some massive Silver Creek trout.

The Big Wood will fish through the cold snap as the current speed will keep parts of the river from freezing and give anglers an opportunity to pursue fish through the middle of the day. Be careful around icy river banks and also where you park. Bring a snow shovel just in case. There have been days when I’ve needed a snow shovel to carve out a parking area at some of the public access points!

If you don’t want to hassle with that, we do run our winter guide service at a reduced rate through the month of March. Call us at 208.788.3536 if you’d like to learn more or book an afternoon with one of our world class guides!

Happy Fishing Everyone!

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!

Little Wood Reservoir

We have been in the super well needed rain cycle here and our streams are going up in water volume and the landscape is turning into a marvelous spring-green with loads of wildflowers popping up at mid to lower elevations. Pictured below is the Little Wood Reservoir.

Little Wood Reservoir. Photo: John Huber

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 #5

Here's video #5 in our series of Silver Creek access points. This one is on the Nature Conservancy & Float Tube section. Check it out:

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.

Silver Creek Access Primer #2

Below is another short video primer on a Silver Creek access point. This video is on the Picabo Bridge access. This is the farthest downstream public access for Brown Drakes and a great one to know about if you plan on fishing Silver Creek early in the season. The season opens, by the way, on May 23rd and we will be stocked with all of the Brown Drakes, PMD's, Caddis, Beer, Ice, etc that you'll need so come on down.

Sun Valley Area Fishing Report - October 14, 2014

With true fall weather upon this week, expect true fall fishing. The daily hatch and spinner fall windows are going to be much shorter, but the action could also intensify within those windows. This is also a time of year to start going back to some big bushy dry flies on our freestone streams. The H and L Variant and the Royal Stimulator are must haves on the Big Wood and the upper Big Lost right now. The fish have seen plenty of October Caddis and Western Red Quills to turn them back on to the biggest dry flies!

To the west the South Fork of the Boise is very wadable and the fishing is o.k. Take a lot of small nymph patterns and Fall Baetis patterns if you go. Be patient and try a variety of techniques and flies. Be ready to adjust day to day as well. The fly that may be hot on a Friday may be a dud on a Saturday. Be flexible and enjoy one of the most scenic places we fish in the fall!

Silver Creek continues to shine and the cool fall days this week are really going to get things percolating on the Creek. Mahogany Duns love cool bright days and in turn the fish love Mahogany Duns! This is a great hatch and a productive one for anglers. Hoppers are still working and the early morning seems to be the best time to throw them. If you get to the Creek before the daily hatches, try a big foam hopper in the gray of the morning light. You may be surprised. If the wind comes up on you during the afternoon look to throw Ants and Beetles in the wind chop in the middle of the river. Again, you may be surprised by the size of the fish that will come up for something small and black. The particular pattern isn’t that important, just have something you can see in the chop in a size 16 or 14.

Duck and Deer season opened this week, adding to the beauty of this time of the year, but with that said, anglers should take a little caution and think about wearing a few brighter colors to the rivers for the rest of the month. Leave the tan coat at home in favor of your red one! Nothing to worry about, just a precaution.

Happy Fishing Everyone!

Sun Valley Area Fishing Report - Sept. 22, 2014

The fall hatches are upon us! Some of the best hatches of the year are ramping up this week and last and they should continue well into the month of October. Brown Trout are in pre-spawn mode and Browns and Rainbows alike are feeling the cool nights dropping the water temps thus sending them into a hurry up and get fat before winter mode! This means hungry fish and fish that have been putting their guard up all summer are now letting it down, because soon enough there won’t be hardy any significant hatches to dine on besides the minute winter Midge.

On the Big Wood there are three significant hatches. The smallest event, as well as the spottiest along the river is the October Caddis. This hatch is found best, north of Ketchum and although you won’t see a lot of the insect flying you will see a lot of their shucks on the rocks. Royal Stimulators, Orange Stimulators and Royal Trudes fished in medium sizes are all a good bet to match this bug. Beadhead Hares Ears are an excellent nymph choice to imitate them.

The Fall Baetis is the other wonderful hatch on the Big Wood. This bug will blanket the water on warm fall afternoons. Fish your Silver Creek patterns for this insect.  Size 20 – 22 is about right. Gulper Specials, Parachute Adams and any extended body BWO pattern is the way to go on this hatch. Plan if fishing 6X as well.

The third hatch is the Western Red Quill or Hecuba. This is a big bug! We like fishing our leftover Green Drake patterns to match this hatch. If you see a big emergence of this bug, you may also see your best day on the Big Wood this year!

On Silver Creek the Mahogany Dun is starting to show. This insect likes bright, cool, fall days and can be found in excellent numbers throughout the system, especially on the lower reaches of the Creek near Picabo. The fish get really greedy when this hatch starts. It normally blends in with the Fall Baetis on the Creek, so if you are fishing this hatch be very ready to switch quickly back and forth between the Mahogany and the Baetis. Having two rods rigged is not a terrible idea. The fish will switch back and forth as the Mahogany Dun will come and go in waves throughout the steady Baetis hatches.


Happy Fishing Everyone!

Sun Valley Area Fishing Report - September 8, 2014

While we begin to string clear and temperate fall days together it becomes easy to get lost in the rhythm of them. It is not a stretch to think they will last forever and winter will never come, but she will. One morning you’ll walk out to your porch or truck and you will pick up your frozen wading boots. You will notice that day while fishing, the afternoon just won’t quite warm up. You’ll go to sleep that night thinking the hatches weren’t very strong. The next morning you’ll awaken to 4 inches of snow. You’ll probably shrug and head to the tying bench to start cranking out Midge patterns for the rest of the winter.

We’re not there yet! We are just at the beginning of these great fall days. The cool days this week and the warming weekend could produce a change in our insects as we await the Western Red Quill on the Big Wood, the Mahogany Dun on Silver Creek and the Fall Baetis on every river in the Rocky Mountains! Be sure you have all these flies in your fly box over the coming days and weeks.

The greatest show in the Valley these days has been the Callibaetis hatches on Silver Creek. This noon time insect is causing quite the buzz as anglers are starting to plan their days around this speckled wing mayfly. The best part is we are seeing this incredible fishing on the slow waters of Silver Creek and especially in Kilpatrick Pond where all the restoration work happened last Fall and Winter. Anglers were worried that the hatches may be diminished after the removal of the silt, but alas, this has not been the case. In fact the hatches are outstanding and we can’t even imagine how good this Callibaetis hatch is going to become in the years to come, as the pond settles into a seasonal natural rhythm!

Don’t forget that Hopper season is still upon us and despite less than stellar fishing on the lower part of the Creek, big fish are still taking this fly from the desert stretch of the Little Wood all the way through the Silver Creek Preserve. Fish this fly with confidence and attrition and you’ll most likely be rewarded with your biggest fish of the season! We love to fish big foam Hoppers on the Creek and 2X or 3X fluorocarbon tippets!

Happy Fall Fishing Everyone!

Sun Valley Area Fishing Report - September 3, 2014

The early fall is upon us as day time temperatures have set a course for the 70’s. This means it is time to get serious about transition. The Mahogany Dun, Western Red Quill, October Caddis and Fall Baetis are about to start showing up. We may not see these insects this week, but you had better get them in your fly box.

The hatch heard around the valley this week is the Callibaetis. This speckled wing mayfly has been setting the afternoon fishing on fire when the wind allows. The slower parts of the Creek, mainly the float tube sections are the place to find the biggest numbers of this insect. Generally the best part of this activity begins shortly after lunch.

The Hopper fishing on the Creek is also getting better and better. When the wind picks up during the Callibaetis, don’t hang up the fly rod. Just beef up your tippets and blind fish Hoppers into the wind chop and along the banks.

Ants and Beetles remain a strong fly to fish on the Creek and as the fall progresses, the Ants will become the dominant fly of the two. Every fall we see the Ant hatches pick up a lot of fish. The Ant fly can be a great choice when you are totally stumped.

The Big Lost is continuing to fish Very well this summer. The Trico and Baetis are still the mainstay below the dam and through the town of Mackay. The Upper Lost also continues to produce nice fish on small attractors. The Ant fly is deadly on the Upper Lost this time of year.

The South Fork of the Boise has not been showing its true colors lately with meager hatches of Pink Alberts. With the return of the sun, perhaps this hatch will pick back up. The river was given a good flush the past few weeks, and hopefully these increased flows will have moved some of the debris blocking the river channel in multiple places.

Grouse hunters had a banner opening day. Lots of hunters reported shooting limits and the rest of the fall looks just as good. The flip side to this great hunting is the major lack of Doves. There have been a few decent reports of good Dove hunting, but they are spotty. Moving forward hunters will be treated to more openers as Chukar, Huns and Sage Grouse seasons are right around the corner!


Happy Fishing and Hunting Everyone!


Ten Things We Know (Or Not) About the Brown Drakes

We’ve been getting a lot of questions from anglers this week about the Brown Drake hatch. So here is a list that is derived from simple FAQs we receive.

Ten Things We Know (or not) About the Brown Drakes.


1)     The Brown Drake Spinner Fall is the event anglers see as the sun is setting.

2)     “A” Brown Drake Emergence takes place on a small scale during the Spinner Fall.

3)     “THE” Brown Drake Emergence happens after dark. Normally close to 11:00 p.m.

4)     The biggest fish in the river will wait until the Emergence, and darkness to fall, before rising.

5)     Spinner Falls happen during the daytime when dark clouds roll in, the fishing can be unreal.

6)     The crack of dawn is another time to see a few Spinners on the water.

7)     The Hatch takes place in the Picabo Bridge area and moves upstream toward the Willows daily.

8)     Two weeks is a normal duration for the hatch. Peak activity lasts about 7 days.

9)     Once it is dark anglers can fish 2X tippets. Fish 3X and 4X when it is light out.

10)  This is one of the only insect hatches that will bring Silver Creek’s biggest fish to the surface.

Jake Blume and a great 11 pm Silver Creek Brown caught on one of Picabo Angler's beats. To reserve a private section of Silver Creek call Picabo Angler at: 208.788.3536.

Sun Valley Fishing Report

A wintery mix of weather bodes well for another great week of fishing. Expect the fishing to just keep getting better and better. The timing of the season’s first full weeks of low pressure coupled with the timing of pre-spawn activity is a fly angler’s winter dream come true.

Each year as we move closer and closer to the spring months, and almost always by the last few weeks of February, the fish (Rainbow Trout) begin to exhibit pre-spawn behaviors. This means several things happen. The trout will begin to move and explore, looking for the depth and gravels they desire for spawning. They will also begin to make some of their first physical changes. In February this is subtle and starts with color changes, as fish “Brighten Up” from their dull winter coloring. The most important behavioral change, as far as anglers are concerned, is the need for the fish to pack on the calories needed to make it through the spawn in good shape.

Once a fish enters this pre-spawn mode, the normal caution the trout takes when eating gets tossed to the side in favor of a voracious appetite and a desire to eat almost anything they can track down. This is common behavior as trout eat little to nothing while they spawn and the need for calories is great.

For fly anglers this pre-spawn pattern means the season’s best catch rates. The midge hatches will continue to grow in size and duration through late February and all of March providing enough food for trout to send them into a near frenzied state. The flies you should have in your box this time of the year include Streamers, Red Brassies and Zebra Nymphs, Zug Bugs, Hares Ears, Prince Nymphs, Girdle Bugs, Montana Stones, Tie Down Midges and Griffiths Gnats.

Just how voracious will the trout become? A few years ago on the Big Wood River during a massive Midge Hatch, we cast Deer Hair Bumble Bee patterns just to see if they’d eat them…in February…they ate them over and over again. This is not to say you shouldn’t come to the river ready to match the hatch, it is just evidence to how pre-spawn activity affects the fish.

If you’ve been dying to get down to Silver Creek to fish streamers for large Brown Trout, you only have two weeks left! The Creek closes at the end of the month. We have private water on Silver Creek and there is no access fee this time of year when you hire a guide. It's $300 for the rest of February to hire a Picabo Angler guide on Silver Creek AND fish private water that sees very little pressure. The cost is for one or two anglers. Hope to see you soon.


Happy Fishing Everyone!

A winter brown trout caught on Feb. 17th of this year. Silver Creek.

A winter brown trout caught on Feb. 17th of this year. Silver Creek.

December Fishing Report Sun Valley Area

Perpetual fall has finally given way to winter this week. For anglers this simply means a change in clothes, the fishing is a matter of how bad you want it. A few things to keep in mind; Silver Creek is closed from Hwy 20 upstream through the Nature Conservancy. Downstream remains open and when the overcast sets in heavy, the streamer action picks up and can be very good. Non-weighted streamers in neutral colors stripped on a tight line will draw visual strikes from big fish. Anglers can also slowly swing black and purple leeches with little to no striping action. Don’t hesitate to fish shallow and watch the surface closely for the tell-tail sign of a fish chasing your baitfish or leach imitation. Once hooked, give the fish their head or they will pull the hook every time. Fish heavy leaders and tippets. 10 feet tapered to 2X is about right. The browns are essentially off the redds and finished spawning.

This is also a great time to fill your nymph box. Picabo Angler is sitting on a huge selection of nymphs and some dries that we’re blowing out at a buck a fly. With the winter nymphing season upon us it is time to beef up the box. Expect most of the fishing on all our area waters to be mostly subsurface for a while. Small Prince Nymphs and Hares Ears can be deadly fished under and indicator or swung into deep runs. Brassies are also a must have in the box right now. If you go – Be prepared for winter travel and carry water, dry food, dry clothes, 0 Degree sleeping bag, hand warmers, tire chains and a shovel.

Duck hunters on Silver Creek, Magic Reservoir, and Carey Lake are enjoying a fresh push of Northern Ducks and Geese. For the best results, get out and scout your hunt the day before you go. Make sure you take note of where the birds are and where the cover for you and your dog is. Get there early the next day and take your time setting up shop. There is hardly a better day in a person’s life then one spent in a duck blind with a fine sporting dog who doubles as a best friend. Be sure to have an Idaho Hunting License, a Migratory Bird Stamp and your Federal Duck Stamp as well. Upland hunters please be extra careful in the field as winter sets in.


Happy Fishing and Hunting Everyone.

Sun Valley Area Fishing Report Oct 10, 2013

Cold, crisp, calm, fall days have set in on Silver Creek. The Fall Baetis hatches are blanketing the water shortly after lunch time. The Mahogany Duns are mixing in to this blend and driving the fish crazy with each short appearance. There may not be a better time in the Silver Creek Valley. The days are filled with Moose sightings, and huge Brown Trout moving up the river to spawn. The sunsets are seemingly having a competition with the sunrises for best event of the day. Anglers are finding joy as the season winds down with each cast and presentation that ends with trout heads breaking the surface to inhale their offerings.

With conditions being what they are on surrounding rivers, Silver Creek is a bit busier than normal due to other local rivers not fishing, couple that with the pond project that is underway and one can easily deduce that it is not a normal fall for fishing. This is not to say we are under duress, it is just a cycle that we anglers are a part of and should accept as added challenge to a sport full of a variety of challenges. If anglers will choose to be kind to one another, communicate well and even help their brothers and sisters of the long rod, then we can all count of joyous days in the field!

Another great place to find a connection to trout and the wilds of Idaho is the Lost River. The Lost below Mackay Reservoir continues to fish well. Baetis and Nymphing with small red bugs will take fish until the first real snows begin to fly around here. The Baetis are showing after the day warms up a bit and it is not a bad idea to have a few different sized form 16 down to a 20. If the hatch doesn’t come off, try Nymphing with Red Zebra Midges, San Juan Worms, Red Copper Johns or any of your favorite nymph patterns. If you want more challenge than fishing with an indicator, the Lost is an excellent place to sight nymph large Rainbows sitting in shallow water. If you want to try this, the key is to move VERY slowly up the river. Have good polarized glasses and look into the shallows for trout moving side to side taking nymphs. It is an incredible fun and rewarding way to fish, especially when there is no surface activity!

Happy Fishing and Hunting Everyone!

Sun Valley Fishing Report 6/30/13

It's super hot here. Over 100˚ in Picabo today and low 90's in Sun Valley. The weather is slated to stay hot at least through Tuesday.  

A very terrestrial summer is ahead of us! The dry spring and projected heat for the next few months bodes well for trout anglers and fish alike when it comes to big fly opportunities this summer.

Bent rod on The Big Wood River. Note the water level and clarity. 

First, there are ants everywhere. Ants are turning up in all kids of places, most are small, but if these little ones are prolific, chances are the flying ants will be as well. Keep some patterns in your box, because this activity can pop up at any time this summer, on any day, morning, noon or night. Once fish lock on Ants hitting the water, it’s hard to get them to look at anything else.

Next is the Cicada. The Cicada population is big this year, and should only get bigger. These tree dwelling terrestrials make fish crazy and fat at the same time. You can find Cicada action on almost all rivers, with the South Fork of the Boise and the Big Wood being some of the best places. Cicadas love the heat and get louder and louder as summer moves forward. They fall in the rivers quite frequently and represent and enormous amount of calories to a trout. This is another fly not to leave home without!

Finally, the baby Hoppers have hatched and from what we can see there is a massive amount of them. The dry ground most likely helped this hatch, and the dry summer coming up is going to force these insects to the river’s edge in search of greener grasses. Anglers can plan on fishing baby hoppers within the next 2 to 3 weeks and adults soon after. The bulk of what we have seen are pale yellow and tan. Hoppers work on all our area waters. The Dave’s Hopper is excellent on the Big Wood and Upper Lost, and foam patterns like the Club Sandwich or the Morrish Hopper are excellent choices on Silver Creek the South Fork of the Boise and the Salmon River.

One thing you can be sure of is there will be a Hopper shortage when it comes to fly inventories this season. The major fly tying companies are still playing catch up from last year, so many shops are low on inventory across the board. We ordered early and have plenty of selection so come by Picabo Angler and we’ll help you get set up for all the above mentioned terrestrials.

Big Wood River:

It's Green Drake madness up and down the Big Wood River at the moment. We are likely to have about 7 more days at the least of off the charts fishing on the Wood. There are a few Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies and #12 Caddis but the fish have been all over the fast-water-loving Green Drakes.  The Green Drakes are a #12 and depending where you are on the river the good stuff has been happening from around 11 to 2 pm. The evening Green Drake spinner fall and Caddis has also been good. The flow on the Big Wood River at the moment is 498 cfs with a mean flow of 1,120. The water is clear and wadeable but still swift.

Silver Creek:

With the super hot weather we are having at the moment theh fishing on Silver Creek has not been consistent. There are still Baetis, Pmd's, Callibaetis and a few Green Drakes. The warmer it is the earlier you should plan on being on the water. While the timing has not been like clockwork, there has been enough bug activity prior to 12:30 or 1 to make the trip worthwhile. The Callibaetis in the pond areas has generally been pretty good between 12:30 and 2 and even earlier on the hottest days. Bring Beetles, ant, and small hoppers as well.  Or..., better yet, come on down for the evening Caddis and or Pmd thing and have most of the Nature Conservancy to yourself. If you come for the evening hatch bring long sleeves and lots of Deet.

Big Lost River:

The flow on the Lower Big Lost was bumped back up to 575 cfs today with a mean of 904 cfs. The clarity on the Lower Lost is great but the current is fast and hard to wade. There have been Yellow Sallies, Golden Stones, #14 Caddis, and Pmd's on the water during the course of the day. Should you head that way be armed with 3x and 4x and lots of basic nymph patterns like Copper Johns and Pheasant Tails and Lightning Bugs.