South Fork & Henry's Fork Fishing Reports

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January 2013

Shoshone Lake

Shoshone Lake


It’s the largest roadless lake in the lower forty-eight states. That is thanks to being in Yellowstone National Park.  At a bit over twelve square miles it is a distant second in size of Park lakes to Yellowstone Lake.  Historically barren of salmonids until the late nineteenth century, it was stocked with lake trout from the Great Lakes and with brown and brook trout.  So well did these adapt that for a while a commercial fishery operated on the lake to supply Park hotels with table fare.  This activity was stopped when fish stocks in the lake diminished early in the twentieth century.  Later, power boats were eliminated from the lake  in an effort to maintain its pristine character. That restriction, thankfully, remains to this day.

Because Shoshone is roadless, trails and a river trip up its outlet Lewis River are the only means of approach. The water trip requires crossing Lewis Lake and traveling up the river in a non-motorized manner.  Several trails go to the lake,  the longest being from Bechler Ranger Station or even Old Faithful,  trips of over twenty-five  miles to Shoshone’s west end.  To the east end and outlet, a trail begins just north of  Lewis Lake, follows along a ridge above the river and ends near the Shoshone Lake Ranger Station, a distance of about five miles.  The shortest trail to the lake begins off the Old Faithful-West Thumb Junction road and follows Delacey Creek to the lake, a distance of three miles.  This is the easily traversed Delacey Creek Trail which leads close to one of the best fishing spots ( see the above picture) on the lake. Only problem is the angler needs to pack a float tube  or similar floatation device to get out in the lake to realize the superb fishing  at this location. Shoreline fishing is also possible at this location, but a good day doing so might result in on one or two fish. Out in the lake here, especially about one hundred yards, along the eastern shoreline,  are weed beds which host food forms such as leeches, scuds, aquatic insect life cycle forms, and forage minnows. These weed beds therefore attract numerous foraging  juvenile lake trout, brown trout and relatively rare brook trout.  All the visiting fly-fisher must do is paddle out to these and use a full-sinking line and moderately strong (2X) nine foot leader to get down to these beds, usually around fifteen feet below, with patterns that imitate these food forms, and action will come.  Action comes from juvenile lake trout, usually measuring between seventeen and twenty-two inches, and some of the most beautiful brown trout alive.  These range up to twenty-five inches and fight as well as their lower elevation brothers and sisters.  When usual wind is not roughening the lake surface, fish can be seen around the weed beds in the ultra-clear water.

There is also another “must” for fishing the lake in this manner: insulated waders or enough layers of clothing underneath waders to keep body parts in the forty-five degree water warm enough to function.  A good shielding hat for sunlight protection and a raincoat in case of afternoon thundershowers should be packed.  While on the lake mosquitoes are not pesty,  but they can be on the trail.  So a repellent high in DEET content is recommended.  If one packs food, this must be hung in trees to keep away from bears.  Better yet, take  food items out onto the lake.  Bringing potable water is not required, but is recommended.  A current Park fishing license is required, and so is a non-motorized  ($10 in 2012) boat permit for using a float tube or similar device.  Both permits can be obtained at Park ranger stations and at the West Yellowstone Visitor’s Center.  Fishing Shoshone Lake in this manner makes for a full day, and plenty of excellent restaurants  in the Park at such as Old Faithful and Grant Village, outside the Park in West Yellowstone, along the highway to Jackson, or in Jackson itself will beckon.  There is also the option of reserving one of a few primitive  campsite near this part of the lake for an overnight stay. Either way; day trip or overnight,  Shoshone Lake offers a true wilderness experience with the only motorized sound coming from an occasional overhead airplane.


Today at Jimmy’s 1-14

We just got done updated our fly tying class schedule. This year we have asked John Stenersen from Clackacraft Drift Boats to help teach the beginning fly tying classes. John is an excellent fly tier and has taught many classes for our shop. This is going to be a great winter for tying flies. We also offer private lessons for individuals interested. I highly recommend all of our special topics classes, they very good and packed with lots of information.

For a full list of upcoming classes click here or call the shop. To sign up, drop by the shop!


Today at Jimmy’s 1-11

Guys I have really good news if you have been looking to upgrade your fly tying vise. Renzetti has made some changes to the Traveler series and that means we are offering the Traveller 2200 series on sale for $149.95! Renzetti is a great vise and I personally have been tying on one for many years…I just love it! This is a rare opportunity to get a good deal on a great vise. We have a selection of base and clamp models while supplies last.


Today at Jimmy’s 1-10

We got a few more fly tying materials/tools in that I want to share with you all.

Jungle Cock has been somewhat hard for us to get our hands on the last few years. We now have a good supply of loose feathers from Spirit River and we are more than happy to special order a full cape for you.







The Light Saber which is a UV curing light from Spirit River is rugged and seems to be a much higher quality that what we have been seen or sold in the past. Its also under $10, which is crazy because the Clear Goo curing light from Hareline is $60.

Looking for something specific? We always do special orders on material we can get. Also we are very close on getting Krelix flash for tying the Krelix minnow. More to come on that topic later.


Fall River


Fall River in Isolation


That picture above looks like Box Canyon on the Henry’s Fork,  doesn’t it?  It is taken on Fall River just a few miles below the Idaho-Wyoming border.  To be exact, it was taken between the Boone Creek confluence and the Yellowstone Canal Diversion, the farthest upstream  irrigation take-out on the river.   Fall River in its reach from Cave Falls to the Kelly Bridge,  the furthest upstream crossing a few miles below this diversion, is mostly isolated.  You will not see drift boats here.  There are no developed launch sites upstream of the picture location, there are at least two waterfalls above that would make a portage necessary, stretches of dangerous water, and no developed boat access points in the area of the bridge.   Once in a while a kayak or raft launched at Cave Falls Campground or at the end of the Steele Lake Road may go through this part of the river, but there are some walk-in access points.   Most are off the Cave Falls Road, but one of the most convenient on public land is off the Ashton-Flagg Road, and it brings one to the Boone Creek confluence.  Look for it after passing on the west end of the road through the extensive quaking aspen grove straddling the Targhee-Caribou National Forest boundary.  It will be the first gated road on the left (north) side after passing the  Squirrel Creek Vista.  Park without blocking the gate and walk the road, a bit more than a mile, to its end near the confluence. The last few yards are a scramble down a steep, but negotiable slope to the river edge.  You will be in Idaho here, but much of the river above is  in Wyoming.  Most folks think of the river here as one long set of rapids holding only small fish.  Not true: within this reach of the river are a number of  large, deep holes that host cutthroat-rainbow trout in sizes that would honor any regional river.  There is one at the Boone Creek confluence, and another about a half mile below.  That one is pictured at the base of the rock outcrop in the picture above.  Walk upstream above the confluence, and you will see more such holes.

The problem with fishing here is the treacherous nature of Fall River. It is notorious for a slippery, rocky bottom. In the early season, about mid June when large stoneflies are emerging, the river likely holds a  high volume of run off.  Safe wading the river then is only for the strong, vigorous angler.  Crossing the river is not recommended for anyone during this time, but if one can approach the water around these big holes, a dry adult stonefly pattern or a deeply presented nymph has a chance of bringing up residents ranging to well over twenty inches.    By mid summer run off is gone from the river (so are mosquitoes!) making it safer to wade the uneven and tricky sub surface. Rely on felt soles and a wading staff.  At this time, and well into September, terrestrial patterns, especially large grasshopper or attractor patterns are the best way to get the interest of the larger trout holding in the big holes.  Large stonefly nymphs and streamer patterns or fly rod jigs will work sub surface.  Because of the isolated nature of the river here and that cell phone service may not get into the canyon, it is a good idea to inform someone that you will be fishing here.  Carry potable water, and be aware that bears are in the area, especially during the August berry season.  If you seek seclusion, wonderful scenery,  a good chance for seeing wildlife, and are in good physical shape, this part of Fall River could end up as a destination for you.


Today at Jimmy’s 1-3

I wanted to give you all a heads up on a few new items we have got in the shop.

Bug Bond UV Cure Resin. We have this in the Original clear and the Original Lite formula. This glue requires a UV Lamp to cure the glue when used while tying flies.

Another tying item we now have is the Spirit River UV2 Super Schlappen. We have all the colors for steelhead flies. The feathers are dyed through a process called Ultravision. This is a process that enhances the material by adding visibility and natural color spectrum.

The last item is the book Sunlit Riffles and Shadowed Runs by Kent Cowgill. This book is a collection of stories based in the United States about fly fishing. You can guarantee that there will be some funny and inspirational tales within the pages of this book.


Today at Jimmys 1-2-12

I was fortunate enough to do a little saltwater fishing over the Christmas break down in California and had a blast. My family goes down to California quite a bit and My favorite thing to do is fly fish for sharks out of San Diego. In the summer months you are fishing for Mako and Blue Sharks. The Makos are nuts, they can easily get 10-15′ out of the water on their jumps. My First trip was in September 2010 when we hooked, leadered, and released a monster Mako  around 12 feet long and around 1,000lbs on a sage Xi3 16wt. Check out the video link below, make sure you watch the whole thing!


Needless to say after that trip I was obsessed and I try to get after them a few times each year. Our most recent trip was on 12/21/12 and yes I did plan to be shark fishing when the Mayans said the world would end! In the winter you are targeting Blue Sharks as the Makos leave looking for warmer water. We had a great trip, it took a while before any sharks showed up in the slick, but once they did we were mugged. There were times when we had 4 sharks around the boat at the same time looking for something to munch on. I took a bunch of video of the day that you can watch by copying and pasting the link below.



I had a blast and I will be down there again for sure this summer!



Fishing Report 1/2/12

It is Cold!!! With all this cold weather, it is making fishing pretty tough. There is warmer weather in the forecast though, and with that better fishing will follow. Once things do warm up, nymphing area rivers with zebra midges, small pheasant tails, and your other favorite nymphs will be most productive. Springfield Reservoir should start fishing better too once things warm up. There, very small midges under an indicator will be your best bet.