Photos by Scott and Ashlee O’Malley of The O’Malleys.
I once had a fishing guide tell me, “trout don’t live in ugly places.” Nowhere is that more true than Central Idaho’s Big Wood and Sawtooth Valleys. My dad and I have been fly-fishing these waters together for more than 15 years. It’s where I learned to fish and where I love fishing most. As my love of fly-fishing has grown over the years, together we’ve explored the endless waters of these valleys; the freestone rivers, spring creeks and high mountain lakes.
While one of my favorite challenges has always been match-the-hatch dry fly fishing on spring creeks my other has been winter fishing. With no hatch to match and a river to yourself the winter presents it’s own challenges and beauty. On this trip we headed out to the freestones of the Salmon and the Big Wood Rivers. In the winter, the trout are largely podded up and slow to move. It takes patience, persistence and a slow approach to be rewarded with fish. While the mornings were slow starting, once the water warmed a bit the patience paid off with many beautiful rainbows.