Harriman Fish Pond
Not only is this a pond of legend, it is also among the safest of public still waters to be found in the Island Park area. It was created by the Harriman family in the early twentieth century as a place to take Railroad Ranch guests fishing. The family dammed Osborn Creek and a couple of smaller intermittent creeks to form it. IDF&G has used it on an experimental basis to test trout suitability. It is not very deep, but rich in nutrients, so over the years it has gained a reputation for producing huge rainbows and trophy-sized brook trout. It has endured misuse from dewatering and bank erosion, yet properly maintained and kept at full pool year round, it is a superb fishery. If you are familiar with fishing the Henry’s Fork from Wood Road 16 access, you go by the pond to the south a few hundred yards. That creek entering the Henry’s Fork just above the access is the outlet from the Fish Pond. I’m not going to say anything about the fish in that creek below the pond! You can get to the Fish Pond from the Mesa Falls Scenic Route. Drive down the Route from Highway 20 just above the Osborn Bridge. A bit more than a mile on the right the access road to river near “Pine Point” goes to the right. Turn off here and take the immediate left, a primitive road that takes one to the north end of the Fish Pond, and on to the west end dam. You can fish from the dam without needing wading gear. To fish effectively anywhere else here you will need to get out on the pond with a non-motorized craft because the pond bottom is mostly deep silt. But the pond is ideal for float tubing or pontoon boating, and launching such from the north end is easy.
Fly-fishing season on the pond begins as soon as ice comes off and the primitive access road to its north end is passable. I have fished it as early as the end of April after a winter of scanty snowfall. During the early season any pattern resembling a leech or dragonfly nymph works. When midges begin emerging in number, life cycle patterns for them work until resident fish become filled. When that happens, go elsewhere. After the fish are over this “midge binge” try speckled dun life cycle patterns. By then, however, you may need to fish mostly on or near the surface because weed growth clogs so much of the pond that fishing wet is mainly good for dredging up weeds. Any time you fish here a floating line is best because for the most part the pond is so shallow. There is some deeper water in front of the dam on the west end and along the creek channel in its middle. I usually avoid the pond as July approaches because fishing there slows. But I come back very late, as late as the first of November when weeds are dispersing, and I present midge life cycle patterns or a small (size 12-14) bead head peacock leech. This is when I have caught my largest fish, but one can certainly encounter large fish here any time during the season. These big ones are a bit tougher to encounter in recent years because hatchery catchables are now present, but one benefit of those hatchery catchables is that if they hold over, they can become big guys. So if you are looking for a chance for a fish of the season under safe conditions compared to a wind-blown Henry’s Lake or Island Park Reservoir, or you have youngsters or have physically challenged folks wishing for the same, put this spot near the top of your destination list.