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The Idaho Angler’s Guide to Fly Fishing Near Boise, Idaho
Boise is very fortunate to have some great fly fishing in and around the City. Boise offers exceptional tailwaters, and a nearly world class spring creek. Some of our favorite close-by waters are described below.
Boise River Through Town
The Boise River runs right through the center of the city of Boise and an amazing urban fishery. The River is located less than two miles from The Idaho Angler, running from Lucky Peak Dam east of town, westward. A series of beautiful public parks parallel the river linked by the 35-mile long Boise Greenbelt system.
The Boise River through town is a tailwater fishery. Its water runs exceptionally cool and clear, providing great trout habitat. Fish include wild and stocked rainbow, wild brown trout, and native whitefish, with some of the wild trout reaching 24 inches or better. Fish 18 inches and larger are regularly caught.
Popular fishing areas (from the east to the west side of town) include the area around Highway 21, Barber Park downstream to Americana Blvd, and the north and south channels around Eagle Island downstream and further west.
South Fork of the Boise
The South Fork of the Boise, is a tailwater fishery located in a breathtaking canyon dotted with large Cottonwood trees and old Ponderosa Pines. It is an easy 1 hour 15-minute drive from Boise. There is no commercial development in the South Fork Canyon – just beautiful water, big rainbows, and solitude!
Cold water releases from Anderson Ranch Dam, support Southern Idaho’s premier blue-ribbon rainbow trout fishery with many fish in the 12-18” range, good numbers of fish around 20”, and enough reports every season of fish 25” or bigger to excite any angler.
The South Fork is unique in that NO guiding is allowed by law. Thus, you will have to rely on your skills and info from Idaho Angler and other local shops to help you this beautiful stream. In early season, fishing is typically by float boat; however, by late July when flows decrease, drift boats disappear, and anglers enjoy wade fishing the South Fork.
The Owyhee River is one of the best brown trout fisheries in the country! The “O” is a tailwater fishery located about an hour and 15 minutes west of Boise near Adrian, Oregon. The fish average 16-20 inches, with larger fish common. The river runs through a small and beautiful desert canyon. The river is a low gradient stream that makes the river very wadeable.
The “O” is remarkable not only for the average size of the trout, but also for prolific hatches of PMDs and Baetis mayflies, Tricos, midges, and ants and hoppers! This creates extraordinary opportunities to catch large trout on small dry flies and emergers. What angler can resist large rising fish taking flies at the surface!
Fall weather brings Baetis and mahogany hatches and big brown trout. In late fall, when the brown trout move to their spawning beds, we back off and encourage anglers to give the spawning areas a wide berth. Away from the spawning areas, browns and a smaller population of rainbows give anglers plenty of opportunity for action.
Snake River near Swan Falls
Southern Idaho boasts two other exciting fisheries that are not well known – fly fishing for carp, and for smallmouth and largemouth bass. Swan Falls Dam on the Snake River is 45 minutes south of Boise.
The Snake river below Swan Falls Dam is home to healthy populations of smallmouth bass, channel catfish, carp, crappie, and the occasional rainbow trout. Bass are the usual targets and are easily fooled with most streamer-type. Double digit catches of smallmouth in a summer evening are not uncommon. Fishing is primarily from the bank or by wading nearshore flats.
Many consider carp the bonefish of the desert west because they are spooky, large, and forage in schools along nearshore flats, where they are accessible to the wading angler. Once hooked, runs are long and will take you well into your backing. Fishing is done by stalking the flats looking for tailing fish and sight casting small streamers and nymphs. Try carp fishing, where the fish are measured in pounds!
Silver Creek (a little further away)
Silver Creek, lying about 2½ hours east of Boise and perhaps one of the most famous spring creeks in the west, is the destination of thousands of fly fisherman each year. Silver Creek’s most famous stretch (above Highway 20) is the Nature Conservancy’s Silver Creek Preserve, considered to be the holy water of the creek.
The Silver Creek fishery includes both rainbow and brown trout. The fish are renowned for their selective nature, but also because they can be very large, and the rainbows explosive when hooked. Hatches can be prolific and complex, making fishing quite challenging at times. Spring hatches of PMDs start the season, followed by Callibaetis and Baetis hatches, and the famous Trico hatch in late July. Grasshoppers, beetles and ants can also produce great results from mid summer to the first freezes of fall.
For the non-fisherman, Silver Creek Preserve is a wonderful place. Miles of hiking trails afford opportunities to view the ample wildlife of this area. Deer, Coyotes, the occasional Moose and hundreds of species of birds can be found within the preserve boundary.