It's that time of year! And once again water issues are the main topic of conversation—continuing an unsettling and continuing trend the last few years of runoff, snowpack, water content and cool springs. Right now, only the farmers are looking at a good scenario. With each passing day, everybody else is looking at a dicey, "no-win" situation. Heavy snowpack (129%) is still in the mountains. When the weather finally begins to warm, serious flooding that damages property and the rivers is a distinct probability. On the other hand, if it stays cool and rainy (remember last year?), it's anybody's guess when we can wade and fish our waters effectively. And these conditions exist statewide. To make room for the waters to come, our normally reliable, early, tailwater fisheries below dams are now surging, making these waters dubious as well. Are we having fun yet? Fortunately, there's a glimmer of hope for some fishing on the Memorial Day opening, but even those conditions could change. Let's a look at what we have.
SILVER CREEK—"Mr. Reliable" continues to reign for the holiday weekend opening. Unfortunately, the poor spring weather has kept it at less than prime conditions. Water levels are low and weed growth is sparse but not as bad as I anticipated. A few fish can be found feeding on a few Pale Morning Duns, some infrequent Beatis duns and some tiny adult black Midges. Fly patterns should be simple. P.M.D. Parachutes #16, Lt. Olive Parachutes #18-20 and a Black Midge Parachute #20-22. In addition, nymphs will be very effective and a P.M.D. Nymph #14-16, Flashback and Regular Pheasant Tail Nymphs #14-16 and a Hare's Ear Nymph #14-16 should do the trick. Also, small Olive or Brown Wooly Buggers #12-14 can also be deadly this time of year. At least for the first week or so, the fish can be very unselective so take advantage for this will never last. Let's just hope the wind doesn't blow and if it does, it does so with restraint.
BIG WOOD RIVER—Forget it. 1200 cfs is too much water.
WARM SPRINGS/TRAIL CREEK—Warm Springs is high and off-color but through last weekend, Trail Creek was still clear, low and fishable. So go figure. With the amount of snow still on Trail Creek Summit, this won't last long and in fact, will give us Big Wood River problems through half the summer.
BIG LOST— There is 500 cfs going into the reservoir meaning some runoff has started in the upper river. It's what's going on below the reservoir that makes for a perplexing prediction. Early in the month, they bumped the river up to 425 cfs making it tough to wade and fish. Last week they brought it down to a respectible 250 cfs and a few fishermen took advantage. The only question remaining is whether the irrigators hold it there for the opening. Your guess is as good as mine but they don't have a great track record in doing so. It will be nymph fishing and you will have to go through Arco to get there so it's a good idea to double check on conditions before you leave.
PENNY LAKE/LAKE CREEK—Both should have enough fish for good success using bait and flies.
SOUTH FORK OF THE BOISE—Getting rid of Anderson Ranch water, it has been running at nearly 3000 cfs for some time making it very tough to wade let alone fish. It will probably go much higher.
SOUTH FORK OF THE SNAKE—Running at 18,000 cfs. Years ago, I floated it at 15,000 and it was no picnic.
HENRY'S FORK—Only report is that water is spilling freely over the Island Park spillway making for boating only in the Box. With more snow than most in the state, high water could be an issue for some time.