Big Lost Redux

6 April 2006 By Dan Bachman • Day-Spent-Fishing • Comments (2)

With the winter fishing season winding down last week I had committed myself to take one last trip with a fishing buddy. After he heard my report on The Big Lost from a couple weeks earlier there was no question where we were going. Imagine our disappointment when we found out the flow from Mackay Reservoir had been raised from 106 CFS to 288 only 5 days earlier.

I spoke with a someone that had fished the Big Lost only 2 days earlier and they had got blanked on the river. Even though a nice hatch came off the fish weren’t rising or biting and the redds he came upon were empty.

As we left Wednesday morning we hoped that 5 days was enough time for the fish to settle down after being freaked out by the change. Our backup plan was the Big Wood if the Big Lost didn’t produce for us.

The water was a little off-color when we arrived and the first good sign was a couple fish sitting at the top of the first redd we happened upon. The weather wasn’t as biting cold this time around and we spent the morning hours nymphing with minimal success.

Nice cabin on the Big Lost The Big Lost in March

We worked our way downstream until around 12:30 when we noticed a midge hatch that began to come off. I sat across the water from a promising hole waiting for the fish to respond. Just when I was about to give up and move upstream I saw the rise of a trout snout near the far bank.

I moved into position across the river wondering how I would send a drag free fly into the water. Riffles ran tightly next to a calm stretch of water where the trout was sitting. On cast after cast I would land the fly in the placid lane where it would sit for just a second and then get pulled out by the attached line. Mending quickly after a cast would only add another second or two to the proper drift.

This is the part of dry fly fishing that I really enjoy—working a tricky fish on top. What’s he eating? What is the best way to approach? How often is he rising? When and where to I put the fly to put it in a feeding lane or avoid drag?

Nearly 15 minutes went by and a gentle breeze was pelting me with midges. The hatch was now quite spectacular and 4 or 5 more fish were rising within 15 feet of the one I was working. Adding another foot of 6X tippet to my leader and I finally prevailed a couple casts later when my fly was taken. The fiesty rainbow ran up and down the pool a couple times before tiring. The fly came loose just as I netted the 16 inch rainbow.

Author with a Big Lost Rainbow Big Lost Bow Jim with a nice Rainbow

The hatch lasted less than a hour more but I was able to catch 4 more along the bank. Oddly enough the run of the first rainbow through the pool had not put the other rising trout down.

The fish of the day was caught by my friend Jim when he landed a thick 18 inch rainbow with very nice coloration. For winter fishing we had a great day and the Big Lost is already on my calendar for next March.



  1. 7 April 2006 Jim Batsel


    Am I reading my regs correctly? No protection for trout on the Big Lost and it has a good population of wild rainbows? Must have supplemental planting. Any Browns?

  2. 8 April 2006 Dan Bachman

    Jim-The river both above and below the reservoir doesn’t contain browns. And according to Idaho Fish & Game the Trout population is self-sustaining.

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