In the town that Hemingway made famous for his purely manly pursuits, some of it has apparently worn off on those that appreciate his connection to nature but don’t necessarily need to smell like the animals he stalked. After all, a true western woman can shoot a duck, clean a trout, rip a powder lap and beat you in a game of five card stud in a single day.
It’s no secret that the chicks in this town will step up to any number of outdoor challenges day after day. They live here for the same reasons as the dudes. In fact you might be surprised to know that Sun Valley is blessed with a better dude to chic ratio than most mountain towns (just don’t tell anyone). What might be more unusual is how many of them can string up their rod, lay down a “River Runs Through It” reach cast and show you the size of trout that can be caught in the dead of winter.
On Saturday afternoon I met up with some of the area’s more deft anglers, Rachel, Kendall, and Laura. Yep, those western women I mentioned above were headed for the river which produces right in town. Constant thawing snow and ice infused with geo thermal heat bubbling out the earth’s depths produces one of Sun Valley’s greatest natural resources, the Big Wood River and its resident Gold Medal trout population.
It’s about 1500 paces from the deck at Lefty’s to the bend in the river. With warm air and an elusive sun peeking through the clouds, the Big Wood was in prime winter condition. We sauntered down and sized up the competition. Before long the sing of lines in the air was overcome by whoops of success and the splash of water with slippery heads turning the #20 nymphs piercing their lips.
The fish should consider hibernating when these gals roll through.
Rachel, Kendall and Laura were putting the hurt on a passel of beautiful winter rainbows lurking beneath the surface. If you’re lucky and you catch a warmer day, you may find yourself amidst a top water midge hatch. Judging by today’s action however, all it takes is a little skill and technique and the willingness to lose contact with your fingers.
Rachel’s healthy, 16in rainbow is probably twice the size of the one you told your buddies you caught..
With the gleam of success and the warmth of camaraderie filling conversation, cans of cold beer came out and toasts went around. Today, like many, was another day blessed to be alive in Sun Valley. The secluded banks of the forgotten-for-winter Big Wood River had brought friends together and offered an experience that for many would punctuate a lifetime. Not to mention turned a few fellow angler heads that realized who it was ripping lips in the icy current.
Ready to interject a little diversity in to your winter portfolio and prove that you hang with these gals? Stop in to one these great fly shops to get everything you need from gear and flies to fishing location tips.
- Sun Valley Outfitters: 415 Sun Valley Road E., Ketchum
- Lost River Outfitters: 171 N. Main St., Ketchum
- Silver Creek Outfitters: 500 N. Main St., Ketchum
Note: The Big Wood River is closed to fishing for a short window between March 31st and May 25th. Look forward to seeing you out on the water!e.