Copyright 2016 James Marsh
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Fly Fishing The Boise River Idaho
The upper Boise River consist of three forks - the South
Fork, Middle Fork and North Fork. By far the most
popular of the three is the South Fork of the Boise
River. The main reason for this is the Anderson Ranch
dam tailwater below the Anderson Ranch Reservoir on
the South Fork of the Boise River. It has a population of
big rainbow trout and flows through beautiful wilderness-
The Boise River itself is a 102-mile-long tributary of the
Snake River. The North Fork is a 50 mile long stream
that rises in the in the Sawtooth Wilderness Area. It flows
through the remote mountains in the Boise National
Forest. The Middle Fork is 52 miles long and also flows
from the Sawtooth Wilderness Area. It joins the North
Fork to form the Boise River. The South Fork is a 101
mile long stream that rises in the Smoky Mountains and
the Soldier Mountains of the Sawtooth National Forest. It
flows through a canyon into Anderson Ranch Reservoir.
Its tailwater flows into the southern arm of the Arrowrock
Reservoir. The mainstem Boise River flows through the
city of Boise.
The North Fork Boise River has a population of wild
rainbow trout but hiking is required to reach them. One
roadless section is from the North Fork's confluence with
the Middle Fork upstream to Forest Service Road #327.
There's a roadless section that runs from the Deer Park
Campground to the Johnson Creek Campground. You
can also fish the stream upstream into the Sawtooth
Wilderness section. Crooked River, a tributary of the
North Fork, also provides some hike-in opportunities.
The Middle Fork also offers some good wild trout fly
fishing opportunities from its confluence with the North
Fork upstream. Its headwaters can be accessed from
the old mining town of Atlanta. It can also be accessed
from the Hellroaring Lake Trail in the Sawtooth
Wilderness which eventually leads to the headwaters of
the Middle Fork. Forrest Service Road #268 follows
along the Middle Fork from the Wilderness Area to
Arrowrock Reservoir. The trout are mostly small, wild
The lower section of the Boise River flows through the
city of Boise, Idaho. The stream is managed as a “put
and take” fishery but the river in town is actually a very
good section of tailwater. Some sections hold very large
wild rainbows and brown trout. Its a very popular area to
fish simply because of its close proximity to many
The main fly fishing attraction of the Boise River is its
South Fork. It not only has some very large rainbow
trout that go up to twenty inches, it flows through a
beautiful canyon with lots of wildlife. For the most part,
the South Fork flows through BLM or National Forest
land. A winter "catch and release" season is yet another
reason for its popularity.
100% Satisfaction Guaranteed
Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 to 12 ft., 5 or 6X Nymphing:
71/2 ft., 3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rod:
Perfect Fly Supreme Four, Superb Five
or Ultimate Six
For 4/5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Loon Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
Boise River Fly Fishing Guide:
The Boise River begins in the Smoky
Mountains near Pine. There it is a typical, small
freestone stream with wild rainbows and brook
trout. Even though it isn't fished very much, it
offers as much fly fishing opportunity as the
other freestone sections of the Boise. It's far
overshadowed by the tailwater section below
Anderson Ranch Dam. There you will find
about 26 miles of water that hold large
rainbows. Downstream of Neal Bridge the Boise
river slows down and flows into Arrowrock
The most popular section is between the dam
and Danskin Bridge, a stretch about ten miles
long. It is closely followed by an unpaved road
that provides easy access. The only
disadvantage to fishing this section is that it
can become crowed during prime times. This
section can be waded or fished from a drift
The lower sixteen mile section of the river
below Danskin Bridge is much less fished
because you either have to fish it from a drift
boat or do a lot of hiking. It is right the opposite
of the upper section of the tailwater. It sees
very few anglers. The main reason is the Class
11 and 111 rapids. It requires a an
experienced guy on the oars to navigate it
The season starts Saturday of Memorial Day
weekend. The best fishing in the freestone
sections takes place after the Spring runoff.
Late Summer would be best for fly fishing the
Boise River in its headwaters and tailwater
The river runs its highest levels during
June and July. Wading can be tough but
thanks to some braided channels, one
can carefully pick and choose various
locations to fish it on higher flows. The
best wading opportunities usually come in
August and September. Flows of around
a 1000 cfs and lower are most desirable
with 300 to 600 being ideal.
The south fork tailwater has good
hatches of mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies
and tons of midges. The river even has a
population of the large Salmonflies and
Golden stoneflies that hatch in June and
Boise River Hatches and Trout Flies:
Our information on aquatic insects is based
on our stream samples of larvae and
nymphs, not guess work. We base fly
suggestions on imitating the most plentiful
and most available insects and other foods at
the particular time you are fishing. Unlike the
generic fly shop trout flies, we have specific
imitations of all the insects in the Boise River
and in all stages of life that are applicable to
fishing. If you want to fish better, more
realistic trout flies, have a much higher
degree of success, give us a call. We not
only will help you with selections, you will
learn why, after trying Perfect Flies, 92% of
the thousands of our customers will use
nothing else. 1-800-594-4726.
The water chemistry is suitable for a large
variety of aquatic insects including the
During the winter, the hatches consist mostly
of Blue-winged Olives. These hatches can
occur from late November until near June.
Several species of baetis exist in the river.
Midges are the only other substantial hatches
that occur during the winter months and
imitations of their larva, pupa and adult
stages of life can produce well at times. You
can actually catch trout in the tailwater on
midge imitations whenever you choose to
fish. It's just that they may be the only thing
hatching on most winter days.
Little Yellow Stonflies show up during late
May and can hatch until late June. The
Yellow Sallies can be an important insect to
imitate during this time. Hatches are normally
The Salmonfly nymphs usually start moving
to the banks to hatch during the middle of
June. Hatches are normally over by the
middle of July.
Golden Stoneflies follow just behind the
Salmonflies and also start appearing in June.
They can last until near the end of July.
Other than the BWOs, the bulk of the
mayflies will be the Pale Morning Duns.
They start hatching in June and last into
the first of August. The Blue-winged
Olives (baetis) mayflies will reappear
during the month of August. Hatches of
these little mayflies can last on into
Caddisflies are the most consistent
hatches of aquatic insects. Little
Short-horned Sedges and Green Sedges
(Rock Worms) hatch starting in May and
last through June. Different species of
Spotted Sedges start in early June and
hatch until late September. They
represent the most important caddisfly
hatches. There are several more species
of caddisflies in the tailwater but they are
not usually heavy hatches.
Terrestrial insects become important
during the month of June. Imitations of
ants, beetles and grasshoppers can
produce until as late as the end of
Specific imitations of the Little Yellow,
Golden and Salmonfly stonefly nymphs
are important flies to have.
Imitations of the BWO and PMD nymphs
are also effective for sight fishing during
low, clear water conditions. Of course we
recommend our "Perfect Flies" not just
because they are the most realistic
imitations but also because they are also
the most productive flies you can
purchase. Imitations of the stonefly
nymphs have been proven to work on the
Early Fall would present very good
opportunities in the tailwater and freestone
The South Fork tailwater has a catch and
release open season during the winter
Boise River Fly Fishing Report:
12/06/13 Customer re-ordering BWO
nymphs, Red and Cream Midge larva and
pupa, and other nymphs reporting catching
some nice fish in the South Fork tailwater.
Ice in the guides some mornings has been
the only problem.
Fishing Report Updated 10/20/16
(Bottom Of Page)
01/01/14 Catch and release section is
producing some nice trout according to our
local contact. A decent week of winter weather
lies ahead and the action should be better.
01/09/14 Good winter weather ahead. Highs
in the forties and lows in the twenties. The
Catch and Release section should produce.
01/16/14 Customer reporting fish are
being caught recently. He re-ordered
Perfect Fly midges.
01/30/14 Fish are being caught in the
tailwater on a regular basis. Some colder
weather may slow down the anglers but
shouldn't affect the tailwater trout.
02/06/14 The Boise tailwater is one of the
best locations in the northwest to catch
trout at this time of the year.
02/13/14 A chance of rain is in the forecast
every day for the next week with much
warmer air temperatures. Fishing should
be great. Let us hear from you.
02/20/14 Several good reports came in
this past week. Customers order more size
20/18 BWO nymphs, emergers, duns,
spinners and other flies.
02/27/14 Continued reports from our local
contact are good. This is currently one of
the west's best locations to catch trout.
03/07/14 Reports continue to be very
good. It is imperative to check the
discharges before fishing.
03/13/14 We received no reports this past
week. Our local contact was in South
America. Let us have your fishing reports.
03/20/14 The weather is a little cooler but
the good tailwater fishing continues. Two
good catching reports came in from local
anglers ordering more flies.
03/27/14 One local and one visiting
customers ordering more flies reported the
good fishing has continued. There is rain
in the forecast that may affect the
discharges and stream levels.
04/03/14 The discharges have been high
much of the time and no reports from
anglers fishing during the past week.
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us (email@example.com)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.
All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $50 are shipped via
05/15/14 Season closed on South Fork of
the Boise April 1.
05/22/14 The South Fork season opens this
Saturday. Let us have your fishing reports.
05/27/14 South Fork season is open. All
stream USGS stations reporting low water
conditions which are fine for fishing. The
water is much warmer and hatches are
getting underway. Fishing should be excellent.
06/05/14 The water is warming up and
salmonflies are showing up in the lower
part of the S.F. Levels have been and still
are a little high.
06/12/14 Discharges have continued to be
high and little fishing has taken place
according to our local contact. Hopefully,
this will change soon.
06/19/14 Conditions have improved very
much lately. The water is clearing and
warmer and some hatches have started.
Two customers ordering flies reported
having some recent success.
07/03/14 Two good reports from regular
customers fishing this past week. Levels
have fluctuated and been a problem at
times but several trout have been caught.
07/17/14 More good fishing reports from
customers. Lots of trout are being caught.
Lots of insects are hatching and conditions
are as good as they get in the Summer.
07/24/14 More good reports from
customers. Conditions remain good.
07/31/14 Many of the local anglers are
traveling to other parts of the west to fish
and letting the river in their home town rest
but that doesn't mean the fishing isn't
good. Conditions are still good and trout
are being caught on a regular basis.
08/14/14 Two regular customers report the
river is fishing great with little pressure from
anglers. Water levels are in good shape.
08/28/14 More good reports came in the
past two weeks. Water levels were a
problem at times but in good shape now.
09/11/14 Flows in town are currently good
and trout are being caught by the few
anglers that are fishing. The cooler
temperatures should make it even better.
09/25/14 Stream flows are excellent and
lots of trout are being caught. BWOs,
October Caddis in the headwaters and a
few other insects are hatching.
10/09/14 Anglers are catching plenty of trout
in town, mostly on nymphs. Blue-winged
Olives and midges will be the main insects to
imitate for the next few weeks.
10/16/14 Conditions are remaining in good
shape - good stream levels and
temperatures. Lots of fish are being caught.
10/23/14 Two more good reports from
customers using our BWO and midges.
Some nice size trout are being caught.
12/15/14 There have been some high
discharge rates but when the levels have
been good, our customers have been
catching plenty of trout. Midges are the key
insect to imitate.
12/25/14 Two reports of trout caught this
past week. Discharge rates much better.
01/01/15 It was been much colder but
warming back up some with of course, more
snow. No reports from last week.
01/15/15 Two good reports from the past
week from customers using our Midges.
Much better conditions.
01/22/15 No reports from the past week but
conditions remain quite good.
02/05/15 If the tailwater discharges are
okay, it is the only option. The upper rivers
are high with more rain forecast.
02/12/15 The North and Middle forks are
very high. Currently the tailwater is normal,
but it will probably change.
02/19/15 No reports from any anglers fishing
this past week.
02/26/15 Two good reports from customers
using our cream midges and Brown Sculpin
streamers. Good tailwater stream levels this
03/05/15 Stream levels are much better and
the weather forecast simply great for this
time of the year. We are expecting some
good reports from this coming week.
03/19/15 Right now the discharges are good
but expect more high water. The upper rivers
are very high and off color.
03/26/15 Right now the discharges are good
in Boise but the upper rivers are high and
04/02/15 Most of the time the stream levels
have been good in the tailwater in Boise
but high in the upper sections of the river.
04/09/15 Discharges in Boise are staying in
good shape and two good reports came in
from the past week.
04/23/15 Two good reports from below
Anderson. Little Black caddis/BWOs and
midges still your best bet.
05/07/15 Look for Little Black Caddis to
hatch this week. BWO and midges will still
05/21/15 Flows have been on the high side
but fish are being caught on nymphs. BWO,
Cream/Red Midge larva/pupa comb., Sculpin
06/04/15 Fishing is back decent in town with
BWO's, some Little Black Caddis, Midges.
South Fork is also doing well. Look for
Salmonflies any time now.
06/11/15 Stream levels high in North and
Middle, okay in town.
06/18/15 First spotting of Salmonflies. Levels
are falling fast. Get ready.
07/02/15 Stream levels are in good shape with
lots of insects hatching, Golden Stones, Little
Yellows, PMDs, Spotted Sedges and more.
07/09/15 Good conditions continue.
07/16/15 Customers are catching lots of trout in
the canyon, and both North and Middle forks.
07/23/15 South Fork of the Boise is fishable
from a drift boat. Little Yellow stones, PMDs,
Yellow Quills, Spotted sedges.
08/13/15 The river in town has been fishing
good and angler catching lots of trout. The
South Fork is also fishing great, especially
hopper fishing. There are also PMDS, Yellow
Quills, Spotted Sedges,and others.
08/20/15 Remember, the Boise River is a big
river with three forks, and tailwaters, so you
can't judge the fishing by getting a report from
anyone person fishing any once section. Right
now there is a lot of smoke in the area from
08/27/15 Terrestrials, such as ants, beetles
and hoppers, are still working good on the
South Fork. There are some Spotted and
09/03/15 Both the South Fork and downtown
sections of the river are fishing good. The
weather is cooling off and that will help.
09/10/15 Two good reports from the past
week. Good stream levels and good weather.
09/17/15 The South Fork has really
produced some big trout lately but watch the
stream levels. They may be running a lot of
09/24/15 We have received several calls and
email this past week asking for fly selections.
The Boise river is hot in all sections. Great
conditions should continue through the next
10/08/15 Two customers reported catching
some very large and high numbers of trout this
past week in the South Fork.
10/15/15 Great flows for wading is making the
South Fork a top destination right now. There
are some veryi large trout being caught.
10/29/15 Great conditions continue. Good
stream levels in town and the South Fork. It is
raining now but should stop soon. October
Caddis and BWOs are in the South Fork and
some big trout are being caught.
11/05/15 The South Fork is in great condition
with lots of Blue-winged olives hatching a lots of
trout being caught. Good steady flows.
11/12/15 Stream flows are all still around
normal levels for this time of the season and
fishing has continued to be excellent.
11/19/15 It is getting colder and fishing is
getting down to midges and more midges but
otherwise, conditions remain good.
11/26/15 Currently there's a winter storm
warning but clearing Friday. Water temps are
down in the low forties. Melting snow later (after
this week) will add some stain and may actually
help. Stream levels have been up but fine now.
12/03/15 Snow through tomorrow and rain next
Monday through Wednesday. The place to fish
is the South Boise River. Brown sculpin
streamers and red (blood) and cream midges.
12/10/15 Stream levels at Twin Springs is almost
double normal. We expect higher discharges in
the tailwaters. Conditions are not looking very
good. You could catch them low.
12/24/15 This is probably one of a few places in
Idaho you can catch trout. The tailwater in town
and the South Fork Boise tailwater both is
putting out water at about 39 degrees or
warmer. Midges and Winter stonefly nymphs are
your best bets.
01/07/15 The in town river and the South Fork
are in good shape stream level wise but they
are tailwater, so keep a check on the
discharges. Midges should catch trout
throughout January. They will hatch on the
warmer, cloudy days, so have some dry adults.
01/21/15 It is actually a little warmer but that does
melt snow and keep the water cold. Fish right
below the dams on the South Fork or in town as
close as it is legal. Midges (red and cream),
winter stonefly nymphs and Sculpin streamsers
are the flies you need to be using.
01/28/16 There is a lot of rain coming tonight and
tomorrow, and then snow for the next few days.
Watch the levels but right now they are good.,
02/04/16 The South Fork is in good shape and
anglers are catching trout, including some on
the surface on midge hatches and little BWOs.
02/11/16 Both the downtown section and the
South Fork have been in good shape with trout
being caught. Cream and Red Midges and BWO
nymphs are the flies you should be using.
02/25/16 The South fork has good flows below
the dam and anglers are catching some very
nice trout. The Eagle to Barber Park section is
where the action is. Midges and Winter stonefly
nymphs are best but BWO nymphs, size 20 work.
03/10/16 Notice I added a link to the USGS
station (your upper left) at the Anderson Ranch
Dam. The flows are in good shape at this time
and this section of the river is fishing great.
03/17/16 The good fishing continues in the
South Fork with good discharges and flows.
This is a reminder that the season closes on
the SF at the end of this month.
03/24/16 Six more days left in the season to fish
the South Fork tailwater. You better get it while
the gettins good.
03/31/16 The discharges and stream levels in
Boise are high right now. You will have to watch
the levels but we don't think it will remain high long.
04/07/16 The flows in town are very high right
now - 3590 cfs at 8.14 ft. You will just have to
keep a close check on it.
04/21/16 The flows are at 3630 cfs and 8.17 feet
in town and that's too high to consider fishing.
You will just have to watch the stream levels.
05/05/16 The stream levels are all high and off
color. There is rain in the forecast about every day
for the next week, so unlikely to change much.
05/19/16 Remember, the South Fork Boise is
closed until the 28th of the month, but it isn't too
late to get a list of the flies you will need when
the season opens again.
06/02/16 The flows are at 3000 cfs at 7.67 ft.,
and all sections too high to fish at this time.
North and Middle high, stained; South Fork high
but okay to fish - Salmonflies, Goldens, more.
06/09/16 The South Fork discharges are up
and the stream too high for good fishing. The
others are still high as well.
06/23/16 The South Fork discharges, as well as
downtown and the North and Middle forks are
still high. Salmonflies are hatching in the SF and
it can be fished from a drift boat but it is high.
06/30/16 The stream levels in town are high and
strong, East and Middle, better but high and
strong and Anderson Ranch dam high and
strong but all sections can be fished from drift
boats. There are a lot of hatching insects.
07/07/16 The river is running about normal or
below normal in all sections. There are lots of
hatches taking place with conditions very good.
Lots of trout are being caught.
07/21/16 The in town section is having PMD
hatches along with Spotted sedge caddis. The
South Fork has lots of Golden stoneflies, little
Yellow stones, PMDs, and two species of
caddisflies hatching. We are getting good reports.
07/28/16 Low flows exist in some sections but
we are still getting good reports from all
sections. The hatches are slowing done some.
08/04/16 There are plenty of Yellow Quills (Pink
Alberts) and Spotted and Green sedges
hatching in the South fork. Lots of trout being
caught. Trout are also being caught in town.
08/18/16 Anglers are continuing to catch trout
in town and on the South Fork. The flows are
okay in the tailwater. They are a little low in
town but providing good wading opportunity.
09/15/16 The South Fork below Anderson is
producing some big trout. The discharges are
usually low enough you can wade. In town,
anglers are catching trout as well. BWO nymphs,
Mahogany dun nymphs, Sculpin streamers, and
more. Shoot us an email.
09/22/16 Stream levels and discharges are at
good levels in all sections. October caddis are
hathing good along with several others.
10/06//16 There are some big brown trout being
caught in the South Fork. Our customers are
using the Brown sculpin streamer. There are
plenty of BWOs as well.
10/20/16 The South Fork at below Anderson is
flowing normal and lots of big trout are being
caught. The downtown section is in good shape.