Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide to the Big Lost River Tailwater Idaho
This stream has some huge rainbows. The rainbows probably average between 15 and 18
inches. There are some hatches but not many. When there is a hatch, the dry fly fishing is
usually great. Sight nymphing is popular during the winter.
The dam releases greatly depends on the snow pack. In high snow pack years, the McKay
Reservoir will stay full and the tailwater can remain high until well into the month of June and
at times, almost the first of July. The ideal time to fish the river is when the water first drops
down to a normal or low level. The ideal sight fishing flow is about 175 or less. Normal flows
are about 540 early in the season and about 265 later in the season..
This stream can become crystal clear. Catching the large rainbows in the clear water can
become very difficult. Locals use 7X tippet and fish small nymphs during this time but it takes
staying hidden and perfect presentations.
The stream is relatively small with a lot of trees and bushes in the water. There are many
overhanging bushes along the banks. One you hook a large rainbow in this river, you have
usually just started the process of catching it. Landing it is a different thing.
One of the most effective ways we have found to fish this river is with streamers. The large
rainbows will smash a well presented streamer. This works best very early or very late. Many
of the local anglers use a double nymph rig. These work best in the riffles and pocket water.
There are several very meadows with lots of grass. Terrestrials will work during these late
summer in these stretches.
Midge fishing is also popular during the winter. The river gets some ice but the discharges
and spring water that seeps in the stream keeps it mostly clear of ice all winter.
If you are planning on fishing this river, always check the discharges and stream flows first.
Everything depends on the water levels. They are generally high the first part of the season
but drop through the summer and can become low during the Fall.
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Big Lost River