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FLY FISHING IDAHO'S BIG WOOD RIVER

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The Big Wood River, located in central Idaho near Ketchum, is a quality fishery with an excellent population of rainbow trout. Averaging seventy five feet in width, the Big Wood also holds a good number of brown and a few brook trout. Since it is a freestone stream it depends mainly on run-off from mountain snows or rain. High water usually exists through early June and subsides leaving the river at good fishing levels from mid-late June through the Fall.

The Big Wood's headwaters are found just west of Galena Peak which is over 11,000 feet high. From there it flows southeast and then south when it reaches Sun Valley. From Sun Valley the river flows past Ketchum, Hailey, and Bellevue before reaching Magic Reservoir. Almost its entire length is traversed by Route 75. Access along Route 75 is easy providing many places to pull off and fish. Below Magic reservoir is a tail-water section that also produces some quality fishing as well.

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From its headwaters to the confluence of the North Fork of the Big Wood, it is a tumbling rocky stream. The North Fork flows in approximately ten miles north of Ketchum and Sun Valley. From this junction the river gains volume and begins to slow down in pace over a beautiful stream bed littered with small rocks characteristic of a classic freestone river. Beautiful pools, riffles, and runs are to be found throughout its entire length. The most popular stretch of the Big Wood is from the junction of the North Fork down to Bellevue which is approximately twenty five miles. Rainbows are the most populated trout in this area. Check all the Special Regulations before going out.
Hatch Chart
A few miles below Bellevue a diversion dam often diverts water for the use of irrigation. This leaves the river from below Bellevue to Magic Reservoir very dry during years of heavy irrigation use. Although this does occur and the river is not as popular here it can be an exceptional stretch of river when the flows are appropriate. Browns also become more abundant below Bellevue where as in the stretch of river to the north they are more scarce.

Hatches on the Big Wood are very prolific. A good supply of mayflies, stoneflies, and caddis exist providing exceptional dry fly fishing from June till late Fall and even through the winter with midges on many years. Mayflies include Blue-winged Olives, Pale Morning Duns, Western Green Drakes, Tricos, and Mahogany Duns along with a few other less significant ones. Stoneflies are made up of Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies, and a less significant hatch of Salmon Flies. Caddis include a variety of species and fish well during the summer months. Terrestrials also fish well in the summer and midges in the winter.

Nymphs and streamers also fish effectively throughout the season. They can be exceptional during the end of run-off when water levels are still a little high and off-color. A sink tip line will sometimes keep your streamers in the "zone."

The Big Wood River is an outstanding freestone fishery. It flows through scenic terrain on its way to Magic Reservoir and eventually the Snake River. Tough rainbows and browns provide anglers with great seasonal fishing. If your coming to the area be sure to bring along a camera and a nine foot four to six weight rod. A nine foot five weight is generally the most popular for this river and the many others in the area.