Big Wood River Fishing

The Big Wood River is a nice area to fish. It gets its name from the numerous cottonwood trees along the edges of its riverbanks. Rainbow trout thrive in the freestone stream waters here. To get to the river, you’ll need to locate the access points just off of Utah Highway 75. This highway runs along most of the length of the river. Some anglers fly fish because of the ease and convenience, but they don’t tend to land many fish. The rainbow and brown trout living in the river are picky when it comes to fishing with bait because there’s an ample supply of baitfish and sculpin. Aquatic insects are also plentiful, which include caddisflies, mayflies, and stoneflies. To be successful, you’ll need to time your fishing near a hatch; otherwise, you may not get much.

driving directions

Anglers of all skill levels will find opportunities on this river, where there are plenty of broken surfaces, swift water, and structures.  Local anglers recommend the river section between the towns of Ketchum and Hailey for landing browns and rainbows.

Big Wood River has three distinct sections. From Big Wood River’s headwaters to the North Fork confluence, the river is hatchery-supported. There, the rainbow trout average 9-12 inches, but a lucky angler might get a catch up to 20 inches.

Below the North Fork confluence to the Magic Reservoir, wild trout populate the river. Rainbows are more common above Bellevue, and browns are more common below Bellevue.

Finally, the tailwater section below Magic Reservoir is a great location to land some larger trout. Note that the water levels can get low in this area when irrigation is in progress.

Fishing season begins at the end of May. After the river clears, use dry flies (Mayflies, Western Green Drake, and Yellowstone Flies). Terrestrials work well in summertime because of the cottonwoods and other vegetation. In summer months, the rainbow trout gather at mayfly hatches in the daytime and caddis hatches in the evening. Fall is considered the best season on Big Wood, when red quills and BWOs are thick. Finally in winter, midge hatches provide a challenge for experienced anglers. Nymphs and streamers are productive year-round.

Big Wood River has catch-and-release regulations.

Big Wood River Fish:

Big Wood River boat ramps:

The following boat ramps provide access to Big Wood River.

Johnny’s Country Store Boat Ramp
421 N HWY 75 Shoshone, ID 208-886-7504
Directions