Silver Creek Fishing: A Guide's Perspective

By Greg Loomis

Editor's note: From the start of The Nature Conservancy's involvement at Silver Creek near Picabo, fly fishers, guides and outfitters have been leaders in conservation. They have worked as partners to ensure that Silver Creek remains one of the finest spring creeks in the world. Here, long-time guide Greg Loomis takes a look at what makes Silver Creek special--and offers a few tips for your next Silver Creek visit.

Get any group of fly-fishermen together and eventually the conversation turns to Silver Creek.

Why? What makes this river so special? Are not most all rivers the same? Moving water, rocks, bugs and fish?

Not Silver Creek: It is special. Silver Creek is a spring creek, a true spring-fed river in every way. Slow moving, gin-clear water rising up through the ground at a constant temperature year round with a variety of plants, insects and fish. A spring creek is a well-balanced blend of all these conditions. Silver Creek is unique in the fact that it has very little influence from snow run-off and other river systems; its only real source of water is from the Big Wood River Valley aquifer system.
Silver Creek rises up through the ground in dozens of separate locations throughout the lower Wood River Valley and gathers all of the sources in one location, The Nature Conservancy property at the very south end of the Big Wood River Valley.

This property is the “heart” of Silver Creek. It is easy to find the history of the Conservancy’s involvement with Silver Creek, but the bottom line is that if the Conservancy had not purchased the first parcel of land in the mid 70s, Silver Creek would not be the quality stream it is today.

Anglers from all corners of the globe travel to Silver Creek to sample its beauty and highly educated trout. The “creek” also hosts a large, diverse assortment of bird and other wildlife such as deer, elk, moose, coyotes, ducks, geese and other migratory wildlife. On more than one occasion I have watched a moose walk towards me while playing a fish and wondered if I should land the fish or run for my life! The fish usually wins.

A Special Fly Fishing Experience

Fly-fishing on Silver Creek is special in every sense. For those of us who routinely hunt the fish in its waters it demands your attention, patience and persistence. The trout in Silver Creek will require the best from you; the fish will not tolerate a poor presentation or improper fly selection.

The whole fishing package on Silver Creek will force you to become a better angler. Many people who fish Silver Creek the first time will hire a knowledgeable local guide. This is a very good idea--a good guide will save you a lot of frustration and shorten the learning curve. 

As for the season at hand, I expect the hatches on Silver Creek to start with the brown drake in the middle section of the creek around Point of Rocks around the first week of June. Bring a flashlight and an assortment of your favorite Brown Drake patterns in sizes 8 and 10.

The pale morning duns will start to crank up in the first part of June and continue for about 2 months. This bug is about a size 16, 18 or 20 with most PMD’s in the size 18 range.

Baetis will be in force throughout the summer; be prepared with a variety of imitations in sizes 18, 20 and 22.

These are the most prevalent dry flies you will need, but you will also want to carry an assortment of very small nymphs for those times the hatches are slow.

And as any good angler will know, you better have a few ants and beetles in your box. This is also the time of year that one should not overlook the evening-into-night action on the Creek. Some of the year’s best fishing is into dark in the month of June.