Photo © Jason Lugo

Fly fishing the “pay-hole” at Buhl’s Clear Lake Country Club is an ancient tradition among Magic Valley anglers. Nevertheless, some of the region’s more experienced fishermen often sneer at those frequenting the place. Conversely, less experienced fishermen too often boast about their angling prowess following an outing at the pond. In my view, both are extremes to be avoided. To the area’s self-proclaimed experts, I would argue Clear Lake provides a wonderful place to enjoy a winter’s day and of course, catch a few fish. To the boasting type, I would remind them that the 20-acre lake is liberally stocked with 10,000 pounds of trout per year.

Photo © Jason LugoClear Lake is an especially enjoyable place to visit during cold months as the water is warm and the drive is short. There is a $10 fee to fish the lake and fishermen are required to sign in and pay at the clubhouse before fishing. However, considering that gas is $3 a gallon, it is a lot cheaper (and warmer) than an ice fishing outing to Magic Reservoir.

The lake provides plenty of room for float tubers, but there is fishing to be had from shore as well. Unlike most stillwaters, Clear Lake offers two distinct varieties of fly fishing. If preferred, it can be fished in the orthodox method of fly fishing any lake. This traditional method employs the use of sinking fly lines or weighted flies either trolled or retrieved from a float tube or pontoon boat. Common fly patterns for this style of fishing include leeches, streamers (Wooly Buggers), and a variety of nymph patterns.

Photo © Jason Lugo

To the far east of the lake is the main stream where you can fish from the grassy banks.

However, if traditional float tube fishing is not your cup-of-tea, nymph-and-indicator fishing is also available to the Clear Lake angler, a rare option among stillwaters. This is so, as there is a stream flowing into the upper lake, which can be fished like any small river. Also, at the lake’s head end, numerous flumes create what amounts to a series of riffles. Accordingly, a standard river style nymph rig can be exceptionally productive on Clear Lake (and its tributary as well). Good nymph choices range from large San Juan Worms to small Zebra midges and nearly everything in-between. Bring along a variety of sizes and patterns, and fish a tandem large/small nymph combination. Experiment with tippet sizes, but 3X, 4X, and 5X will be used most frequently. Vary the distance between nymphs and indicator as deemed necessary, and change flies if action stalls.

Photo © Jason Lugo

Clear Lakes Rainbow Trout

Weekends can be a little crowded, so venture down during the week if possible. Clear Lake is also a great spot to introduce kids to fly fishing as the well-stocked lake nearly guarantees success. Further, hot lunches and bathrooms are available at the clubhouse, a short walk from the lake. This is important, as a comfortable first experience is vital for encouraging a youngster’s future angling habit. As a boy, I routinely frequented the lake and have many fond memories of wrestling with those big Clear Lake trout.

If you plan to fish the lake itself, you will probably want a float tube or pontoon boat and will definitely need waders and fins. However, when fishing the creek section, just waders will suffice. For any further questions or to get directions, contact the Buhl Country Club Pro Shop at 208-543-4849.  Remember to check the weather before heading out and good luck. Oh, and one other thing: If you plan on float tubing, don’t drink too much coffee beforehand.

About the author

Pete Wood - Pete Wood has been a guide at Silver Creek in Ketchum, Idaho, for eight years. A native of Gooding, the 30-year-old began working at a fly shop in Twin Falls when he was 14. Since then, he’s traveled and fished in Argentina, Belize, Mexico, Bahamas, New Zealand and much of the United States. He has a bachelor’s degree in U.S. history from Boise State University.

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