The Henry’s Fork could be the most famed trout stream in our country. That being the case it is a huge destination, and for good reason. It is one of my favorite rivers, but with its reputation I tend to seek out the the less visited reaches. My favorite part of this great river is in Cardiac Canyon which begins just below Riverside Campground and ends at the Warm River confluence. Within this reach are a number of places to access the river, and the best of these from an overall fishing experience require some physical effort. Two locations, in particular are my favorites: Bear Gulch and Hatchery Ford. Let’s look at the Hatchery Ford access for now and talk of the Bear Gulch later.
A boat ramp is present on the east side of the river here. It is the last place a boat from the Riverside Campground access can leave the river before entering the perilous waters beginning not far below. Because of relatively easy access, the boat launch is increasingly used by walk-in anglers. I prefer to access the Hatchery Ford area from the West Hatchery Ford Road off Highway 20. It’s a bit tricky to zero in on getting to the river, but if you travel down the road almost exactly a mile you come on your left to some boulders placed to discourage motorized access down the dugway to the river. Once you access the river after a quarter mile walk downward the river comes in view making a big bend. Below it drops swiftly to the Sheep Falls area. Above, for about a mile the gradient eases and becomes more hospitable for fishing, but either direction on the river will get you into great fishing. Walking upstream you skirt a cliff at the bottom of which is a long, deep run which hosts trout that rival in size those in Box Canyon. These large fish reside here until an event such as the giant and golden stonefly hatches bring them out. That event is happening at the time I’m writing this and it is an excellent time to fish here. That means right now for the next few days fish with big dry patterns that imitate the big stoneflies. If you cannot try it at this time try it in about a week to ten days depending on weather conditions. Fish will have digested eaten bugs and be looking for more. If you cannot try the river during this time, come back during the terrestrial season with hopper patterns. Try at the head of the long, deep run or go to the broad flat water above and try the same strategy you might choose for the earlier stone fly hatch. That means concentrate presentations around overhangs, rocky or vegetated banks, and boulders out in the stream. If you cannot fish here during the terrestrial season, come back in October and November (weather permitting) and present streamer patterns in the same manner you would use in the Box Canyon. In any of these time periods you have a chance at those famous big Henry’s Fork rainbows. And in the fast water they are sure to test your skill at handling large trout.
The fishing is pretty good on the South Fork right now. It’s all nymphing and streamer fishing. No dry flies yet. Look for fish on the seam lines and in the tailouts of riffles. The water is still pretty cold so a moderately slow retrieve is effective for streamer fishing. Stonefly nymphs, San Juan worms, and pheasant tails have been working well. Go deep on those nymph rigs 7-8 feet should get you on the bottom.
Flows have been dropped down to 11,400 cfs today. We were informed it would hold steady at 13,000 cfs however the demand for irrigation must not be there to warrant the higher flows. Once flows level out we will report it here. As for now if you want to get away from the crowds chasing dry flies on the Henry’s Fork, Rollin says he and a friend were the only boats on the river yesterday.
Lots to talk about for the Henry’s Fork. The Salmon flies are still hatching. There are really good numbers above Warm River through the Canyon. Walking into Hatchery Ford or Riverside is a great idea for wade fishing. The Box Canyon has very few Salmon flies as of yesterday. Nymphs are all over the banks and that section is literally going to explode any day now.
As far as the lower river goes the majority of the hatch has moved through. Warm River to Ashton still seems to have more Salmon flies that below Ashton dam. However fish are still feeding on them. I was between Ora and Vernon yesterday from 2-6pm and we caught fish on Dries and I saw many fish rise while floating with my family. Other insects flying were lots of caddis, some Yellow Sallies, and a few PMD’s. These bugs will continue to hatch during the next few weeks and expect the fish to key into those hatches.
If your looking for a shuttle on the Henry’s Fork Idaho Irresistible in Ashton does a great job.
This time last year Henry’s Lake Outlet was full of escapee trout from the lake. Flows as high as 300 cfs had flushed these into the outlet, and good fishing resulted down into the Flat Ranch well into the summer. Fewer fish are in the Outlet this year because flows out of the lake have not exceeded 80 cfs. Unless there is a flush out of the lake equal to that of last year, fishing will be slower here this year. If a significant increase if flow out of the lake happens, we will report it here because such an event would have a good impact on fishing.
Best days are ahead on almost all still waters, but try them before irrigation demands set in. Both Chesterfield and Daniels reservoirs are several feet low. This is not the best situation for going into the irrigation season. Twenty-Four Mile, Springfield, and Hawkins reservoirs appear to have full pools, so these should remain in good shape well into the irrigation season. For now try midge life cycle and damselfly nymph patterns on all these. When fishing on these reservoirs picks up, we will report such here.
The big attention getter right now is the giant stonefly “hatch.” Folks come from far and wide to try for that big fish through using a big dry fly. So some locations can become quite crowded. Knowing this, I seek out locations sure to be less crowded. Yesterday I walked into Hatchery Ford from Highway 20 to fish the west side of the river. Two fly-fishers had walked in from the east side boat access, but they left early. Only three boats came by ( that won’t happen at Box Canyon, Warm River to Ashton or Ora to Chester!) during the time I fished. Action began just after 2PM when big bugs were warmed enough to fly and deposit eggs. Some olive duns, BWOs, midges and a number of caddis species were also active, but only small fish responding to them. I did not catch a big number of fish, but had two “hogs.” All fish I caught appeared to be in early stages of keying on the big bugs. None were “full of bugs.” Based on this experience I recommend that during the next few days Riverside Campground to Hatchery Ford will offer some terrific fishing with adult stonefly patterns whether you fish from a boat or by wading.
Yellowstone Park’s fishing season opens today, so it is time to pass on some information on fishing there this time of year. The Firehole River will be the stream drawing the most attention for a while with legendary BWO and caddis activity (Don’t overlook presenting dragonfly and damselfly nymph patterns on slower reaches). Gibbon River, Duck and Cougar creeks are in fishing condition. The Madison River will host a few Hebgen Lake rainbows heading home, but better fishing days there are around the corner. The Ashton-Flagg Road will not open until the end of June, so those great fisheries east of Calf Creek Hill along the Park’s south boundary are not accessible until then. You can walk into Bechler Meadows and even fish some of Fall River Meadows, but high water will limit you big time. The best days fishing in the Park are ahead, and we will keep you well informed of their arrival and progress on this web site.
If you are a warmwater fly fisherman now is the time to get out and really start chasing bass, bluegill, carp, etc….. We have been hearing good reports on the warmwater fishing from all over the area.
Bluegill– Although the water is a little lower then what we would typically like to see at Twin Lakes, we have heard of fisherman doing well on bluegill this past week. Any shallow structure you can find in the lake is likely to have bluegill on it. Fish to these fish either under an indicator with small nymph patterns or even try a popper if the fish are aggressive. The Bluegill fishing should continue to get better in the coming week in all of the Preston area reservoirs containing Bluegill.
Carp– Any shallow bay on blackfoot reservoir or on the lower Snake is fishing great for carp right now. If you can choose a day to fish, pick a day in which the weather has been consistent a day or two prior. Any of the carp flies we carry in the shop paired with a full floating line will work great on both places.
Bass– Smallmouth in Ririe and the lower Snake are active right now and this is a great time of year to get into a bigger fish. I like fishing crayfish or clouser minnow/baitfish type patterns on an intermediate line. Fishing out of a boat is nice, but not necessary. Right now and the next couple weeks is peak Smallmouth time, so if this is something you like doing or wanna try get out there and do it! The Largemouth fishing really turned on this past week down around Preston. I visited a couple lakes down there and found the bass had moved into very shallow water and for the most part, were very willing to eat. Any bigger leech pattern will work on the largemouth right now. Switch up your retrieve to see what kind of mood they are in. The largemouth fishing will be good all the way through the summer and as it warms up poppers can be a great way to take these bass as well.
So if you haven’t heard yet Idylwilde who is a major supplier of flies for our shop is having some issues getting their spring orders from their manufacturer overseas. We don’t know what the problem is but we do know that the majority of our spring order of flies will not be coming this season. This effects you as a customer because we will be all out of Idylwilde’s very popular dry fly, the Chubby Chernobyl. We have already begun to sell out of the carryover stock from last year. With this news we are encouraging people to tie their own Chubby Chernobyl’s. It’s a super easy fly to tie and we just received a wing material that is perfect for tying these flies. The Para Post Wing from Hareline is a synthetic material that is very visible and will float well. We also recommend it for parachute flies. It is available in the 4 colors that we have displayed in the photograph above.
The Salmon flies are continuing to hatch in good numbers. This cold weather might slow things down a little. The hatch has started to move up the Canyon and bugs can be found at Hatchery Ford. The main portion of the hatch is still below Warm River. Caddis are still present on the river and make a great alternative fly when the trout are not keyed in on the Salmon Flies. We have some awesome patterns here at the shop for imitating both insects.
The water below Ashton Dam to Vernon bridge opens on Saturday morning. This is going to be a great section to float if you one of the first boats down the section. Lots of fish have not seen any flies all winter and they will be eager to eat some Salmon Flies on the surface.