Sun Valley is more than a ski town, it's a fly fishing mecca. Why choose between the two? The snow captured in the peaks of the Pioneers, Whiteclouds, Boulders, Smokys, and Sawtooths is the source of water for the Big Wood, Silver Creek, Big Lost, and Salmon rivers. While you’re riding the slopes, these rivers overflow with trout runs that are perfect for a winter cast, and Silver Creek Outfitters offers fly fishing tours to help you find the fish and cast a lure.
The Big Wood River and its tributaries offer a wide variety of fly fishing opportunities to catch a bevy of freshwater fish. The spawning grounds for steelhead, a fish that travels 900 miles from the Pacific, are just upstream from Stanley, Idaho, near the headwaters of the Salmon River. Rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, and whitefish are released from fisheries along the Lower Big Lost River throughout the winter. Midge and winter stonefly hatch during February and March, creating an opportunity for excellent dry fly fishing. With rugged and snowcapped mountains surrounding these waterways, there is no better backdrop for a winter fly fishing excursion.
Operating primarily on the Big Wood River, Silver Creek Outfitters offers a wide variety of day and half-day trips throughout the watershed. At its confluence with the North Fork, the Big Wood River has a bottom strewn with boulders and bedrock, perfect for a long rod to reach the pockets and seams across fast currents. Below Warm Springs, a fine fishery in its own right, the Big Wood broadens into a classic series of riffles and runs past Bellevue into Magic Reservoir before continuing south. This stretch is the most-popular beat along the Big Wood, and it hosts a bevy of eager trout along with amazing river access for all angling abilities. These waters close for fishing at the end of March and don’t open again until Memorial Day Weekend.
Silver Creek is a world-class spring creek 40 minutes south of Ketchum. The large rainbows and browns populating the creek are notoriously fickle and the hatches prolific. This is the kind of water that humbles the best fly fishers. Simply put, it makes one want to be a better angler.
The origin of the Salmon River is no less idyllic or wild than any other headwater in the Rocky Mountains. In late June and July, the Salmon is a great driftboat fishery from Stanley all the way to Clayton. The Salmon also boasts a variety of species: rainbow, westslope cutthroat, cutbows, brook, bull trout, whitefish, and depending on the year, Chinook salmon. In late March and April, there are steelhead that have, like the Chinook, run over 900 miles from the Pacific Ocean.
This is a mere sample of what Sun Valley offers anglers. Guided trips are the best way to experience these fly fishing waters, especially in winter when the conditions are more complex. Silver Creek Outfitters has accomplished guides with years of experience navigating and fishing in the waters of Sun Valley. Come to fish, and stay because of the possibility of discovering something new with every voyage.
The winter fishing season for trout begins in November and ends in March. Find Silver Creek Outfitters via their website. They are available via phone at 208.209.7692 or 800.732.5687. They are located at 500 N. Main St., Ketchum, ID 83340.