Copper Basin

One of my favorite places to fish is the Copper Basin area. It is located just outside of the resort town Sun Valley. The high mountains surrounding this area provide the streams with cool, snowmelt water. This area has a short season due to runoff and its high elevation. It is best fished from mid July- mid September (depending on snowpack and weather.)

The drive to Copper

I made the drive in my Camry, but I don’t recommend it. If the road is muddy or if it starts to rain or snow you might get in trouble with a two wheel drive vehicle. An all wheel drive or four wheel drive vehicle is a better choice if you have the option.

Call one of the fly shops in Ketchum and ask if runoff is subsiding. The river was clear, but still a little fast when I went in early July.

Big skies, tall peaks, and a mixture of sage brush and pine beautify this area.

I never had cell phone service while up there, and it is fairly remote. Make sure to pack a small first aid kit, a blanket, and PLENTY of drinking water. If your car breaks down you need to be prepared.

Please note that there is also a lot of wildlife in the area. Moose are abundant. I love seeing the various animals, but I carry bear spray in case something goes wrong. As always give the animals their space and you shouldn’t have any problems.

The upper Big Lost and its tributaries are freestone rivers/streams. Attractor dry flies; terrestrials; and standard nymphs such as pheasant tails, copper johns, zebra midges and hares ears are good patterns to have.

For those who love to dry fly fish this is a great place to be. Devote more time to reading the river than worrying about you fly pattern. I experimented with about half a dozen dry flies (mainly attractor patterns), and I was able to get fish to rise to them all.

I had the most luck fishing soft edges near overhanging brush. However, I was fishing when the river was still pretty high. Fish might move to deeper pools as the river flows drop later in the season. As always it is up to you to experiment and figure it out.

Big Lost Cut

Happy Fishing.

Silver Creek and Brown Drakes

If you have a pulse and you fly fish then you have heard of Silver Creek. Big fish, technical water, and the Picabo Anglers fly shop shares a building with a burger joint. What more could you want?

I have always wanted to witness the brown drake hatch at Silver Creek. One year I was a couple days too early. The next year I was a few days too late. However, this year I got a little taste of it.

My buddies Jon and Steve accompanied me on this trip. We left our homes between 4:30 and 6:00 a.m. so we could maximize our time on the water.

The first half of the day was tough. We only saw a handful of rises and a storm blew in around noon. We picked up a few small fish, but nothing to write home about. Feeling sorry for ourselves we decided to head to Picabo to eat a burger.

While we were chatting away one of the fly shop employees interrupted us and said, “you need to get to the bridge right now.” We jumped out of our chairs and ran to the truck like kids trying to chase down the ice cream man. When we pulled up to the bridge we looked into the water and there they were. The brown drakes.

We quickly took our place along the creek. The hatch wasn’t spectacular, but it was still fun to see a drake now and then. It was enough to get the fish feeding.

After some trial and error I heard Jon yell and drop his rod. Lost him. Ten minutes later I heard him hollering again expect this time he landed him with the help from a friendly nearby angler.

I walked back to my spot, threw a few casts, and Jon started shouting again. The funny thing is his second fish was still really nice, but since he just landed a 22 inch brown it didn’t seem as impressive. I had to ask what fly he was using this time. He gave me one, and I walked back to my spot. I tied it on, made a few casts, and…….. Jon is screaming again.

I run back over. No way!

Another nice brown. This one measured in at 23 inches. The Brown Drake floating by during the photo is a fun bonus.

From this day forward Jon will be known as Johnny Spring Creek.

Clear Lake Country Club

A buddy and I decided to try Clear Lake. It is a pay to fish location that is part of a country club in Buhl, Idaho. While the fee to fish is only $10, it still wasn’t worth it.

Our first indication this fishery wasn’t what it use to be occurred while we were gearing up. A couple different people pulled up and said, “Are there still fish in there?” “I use to fish it when I was a kid, but I haven’t fished it in years.”

The second red flag was the colony of white pelicans cruising the lake. If there were any small to medium size rainbows the pelicans would make a meal out of them quickly.

We also watched for feeding fish and didn’t see anything.

Nonetheless, we had driven a fairly good distance so we still gave it a go.

Cool water from a hatchery feeds the lake

We kicked in our float tubes to an area that is fed by the cool water of a commercial fish hatchery. Unfortunately, the only fish we saw in this lake were dead ones on the bottom.

I’m assuming the country club stocks the lake later on in the year when it warms up, but when we went it was a total bust. I wasn’t impressed with the management of the fishery.

The Outlet of Clear Lake

We did see a few fish in the outlet of the lake. Most of them were around 10-12 inches. There is only about forty yards of fishable water in this outlet stretch.

My personal experience fishing here wasn’t good, but if you want to give it a try then call the county club and ask when the last time was that they stocked it. Probably a better place to golf than fish.

Owyhee River Rainbows

The Owyhee River is a famous Brown Trout fishery. However, I had heard that rainbows were present in the stretch below the dam. My experience fishing the Owyhee has always been excellent Brown Trout fishing. However, I had never caught a rainbow nor had any of my fishing companions.

In early March my friend Steve Anderson gave me a call and let me know he was in town. Of course we decided to hit the river.

When we arrived at the Owyhee the water was cold, and we saw very few fish rising. We knew it was going to be a tough day. We tried nymphs and dry dropper set ups, but nothing was working. We finally decided to chuck some streamers.

We located a deep hole and began slowly working streamers through it. Within a few minutes I heard Steve hollering and laughing. I ran over and helped him net his rainbow.

I mimicked his fly and more importantly his presentation speed. After a couple casts with my new set up, I was the one hollering for the net.

My first Owyhee Rainbow

I was stunned. I had fished the Owyhee several times and I had never seen a rainbow. Now we had two in the net within five minutes.

The rest of the day was windy and cold, but the two rainbows made all the effort worth it.

The Owyhee River is an Eastern Oregon gem. Give it a try if you are visiting the Boise area.